The Dodo Lady by Mildred Grant

            Eleanor’s was bright sky blue. Mine was fire engine red, but the hand knit tams had the added feature of being incredibly soft and fuzzy.Angora? Perhaps, though I remembered Aunt Mary’s recent comment that Angora yarn was prohibitively expensive to knit Christmas gifts for two pre-teen age girls.

            “A what kind of brush?” Mom asked my Grandmother.

            “Sh-sh!” Grandma cautioned. “I’ll explain later. For now we’ll just let her think we believe it’s angora.”

            Later Grandma told us about a special metal-tined brush that pulled strands from the knitted yarn in the two tams into all over soft Angora-like fluff.

            Uncle Forest and Aunt Mary, both gainfully employed, felt quite overwhelmed by his brother’s large family especially at gift giving time. Aunt Mary expressed the opinion that having five living children was quite indecent. Yet, Aunt Mary was born Mary Catherine O’Leary, as Irish and Catholic as anyone could be. She had one sibling that I know about. Her strong, liberally expressed opinions effectively isolated them from the rest of our family of Protestant Baptists. Her advice was always supposed to be taken as constructive criticism and she felt qualified to judge my parents child-rearing capabilities though she never had a child of her own. Her closed-minded views on religion were soon considered outside normal conversational limits. They sometimes joined the rest of the family for holidays and the two family reunions that I remember, but we were never invited to their home. I have no memories of having them visit in our home. We usually gathered at my Grand parents’ home.   In later years there are pictures showing the three Dimond boys and their sister gathered at my parent’s summer home in New Hampshire. The family reunions were held at a park.

            With their accumulated assets they built a lovely home, drove a newer car, and made many life-long friends. All with minimal participation of blood relatives.

            Aunt Mary wasn’t a gardener, though she was very fond of flowers. One day I picked the choicest blooms from among my garden’s generous supply, put them in an appropriate vase half filled with water and took them to my Uncle and Aunt’s home. It was early afternoon and I thought to stay for a short visit. I wondered why they seemed pre-occupied and just barely appreciative, so I cut my planned visit short, only to learn later from my Grandmother that I had interrupted their “sacred” afternoon “soaps” routine.

            At the time of their 50th wedding anniversary I was running a small catering business from my home, so I volunteered to cater a buffet meal and donate the decorated anniversary cake. Aunt Mary’s niece, from Texas, thought we should hire a large hall with a fully equipped kitchen and at least a seven piece band, as well have an open bar. We did hire a perfectly sized and equipped venue for the party, but not the orchestra nor did we opt for an open bar. Deleting the last two items brought the costs into line with the budget with which we had to work.

            Twice, my husband and I took Uncle Forest up to Dartmouth-Hitchcock to visit his gravely ill brother, my Father. Aunt Mary didn’t go with us.

            Aunt Mary went to a nursing home first, leaving Uncle Forest to get along in their home by himself. He had a kind neighbor who kept an eye on him and often helped with grocery shopping.UncleForestbecame quite forgetful and needed supervision, so he joined Aunt Mary in the nursing home after the house was sold. Aunt Mary died first. Where her personal belongings, keepsakes, and heirlooms were distributed, I have no knowledge, but some of their glassware and china Uncle Forest made sure were given to me. I, in turn, made sure that each of my brothers and sisters had a memento of their Uncle and Aunt. I do know that a silver-plated hand mirror that had belonged to Aunt Mary’s Mother and two ten inch brass-plated crosses were among the items Uncle Forest left at the nursing home when he died. These items were given to me. However, I felt all three items would hold more meaning for Aunt Mary’s niece in Texas than for me. I sent them to her.

           Uncle Forest gave Aunt Mary the nickname “Dodo”. And so she was called until she went to live in the nursing home. From then on, she insisted on being called Mary.

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