Most of you know our dear old cornmudgeon brother, Walt, died just about a year ago. There was another stroke a year ago last Memorial Day, he spent the next several weeks slipping away, and he was gone. He left behind six children, one a complete surprise who came to the funeral.
He left behind a little money and the large mess of being intestate. Two of his sons slogged through getting an executor named, getting power of attorney to open the storage lockers to his two vintage automobiles, getting them sold, etcetcetc. Some other sons and wannabes elbowed to the head of the line, demanding their share until Mark simply announced he would put the signed titles on the front seats of the vehicles and quit paying rent on the storage lockers. Then everyone would get the same—nothing. Mark is one sensible fellow.
But, I digress. Walt also left behind the barn he and Tom shared, to the rafters with Walt’s “stuff,” as Walt parted with almost nothing. Perhaps even nothing, as Tom has come to believe as he has slogged through sorting, pitching, saving. There even were baby pictures of the surprise daughter, although we knew her when we saw her; her face used to belong to our Aunt Ruth.
The two bottles of mercury were a real surprise. There was a tiny bottle of mercury in the house when I was a child. I think it contained the remains of some broken thermometers. I don’t know; my brothers found it far more interesting to roll around the dining room table than I did.
Walt alluded to the bottle on occasion, along the lines of the EPA was simply out of line banning mercury, it was just another government plot to take over the lives of honest citizens. Perhaps even a conspiracy, who knows. I only know Walt seemed to have dad’s little bottle of mercury around and thought no more of it.
Two bottles! I told Tom, just don’t fool with it, I’ll find out what to do. I asked the road guys the next day. They know everything! “Should I call the EPA?” Don’t do that, one immediately advised. They’re liable to tent your barn. He thought for a bit and then advised I call the fire chief.
Charlie’s phone number is still in my phone from my old fire clerk days. I told him it probably amounted to a quarter cup (Tom’s estimate), and could I give it to the fire department to dispose of? Just sit tight and he’d find a legal way. So, I could no longer leave it on the fire station doorstep in the dead of night.
A few days later Charlie called. It could go to the Household Hazardous Waste Center if it were clear double bagged. Our HHWC is only open a couple hours a week in the summer, beginning in June. All my sleuthing was done in April. At the supper table tonight something jogged my memory—it’s June and I need to get rid of that mercury.