Aunt Grace was Dad's mother's sister and very special to Dad. I loved (Great) Aunt Grace. There was such an innate kindness in her that was only exceeded by her unconditional love.
Her "get" left something wanting. Her son, Glen, was referred to in hushed tones around me. He may have liked the bottle and other illegal actions a little too much. He always made me feel uncomfortable. I would never sit in his lap which seemed to be his life's mission and personal challenge. I had nothing to do with him!
Glen's son was just the worst of Glen with some other s**t mixed in. His name was Louie and was married to "poor" Betty. Betty was a quiet mouse of a woman that served Louie in whatever way needed serving.They had a string of children I did not count and it seemed Betty was always in the "family way".
I was required only to address Aunt Grace as aunt and the others I avoided.
We were invited or compelled to visit Aunt Grace one evening. The whole gang was there. I think it may have been the Fourth of July because there were fireworks later but beyond that, as a two-year-old plus I guess I just didn't remember what I deemed unimportant.
Mom, Dad and I arrived (I don't remember if my sisters came, again, not in my memory). Mom, Dad and Aunt Grace huddled in conversation as adults do. I was left on my own in the same (only) room of the house. The children, Stevie and Gracie, gathered around me. They were the only ones not in diapers and the only ones brave enough to try and talk to me.
In my hands, clutched tightly, was my most favorite possession, a velveteen bulldog. He was brown with a white chest, bright button eyes and wore a red collar. He was filled with sawdust, had no moving parts and remained in a sitting position. He had no name that I recall. The only thing I remember was I adored that dog and carried him everywhere. He was small enough to carry in one hand.
Stevie and Gracie were fascinated with the bulldog. I allowed them to hold it. They had no toys that I could see and they brought none to show me. They politely took turns holding my bulldog gently almost reverently. Their eyes were alight with some emotion I could not name. I was keeping an eye on my bulldog. He was precious and I was taking no chances with him becoming lost in the crowd.
Daylight waned and it was time for fireworks. The children lined up in a row to watch. The fireworks were something of a treat for all of us but the night was soon over.
I whispered a question to Mom as we were getting ready to leave. She asked, What? in disbelief. I asked again. She said, If you really want to...
I handed my much loved bulldog to Stevie and Gracie as I said, Take good care of him. He's yours.
Sherry, Stevie and Gracie