One day in 1956 I was visiting my aunt and uncle at the farm. Auntie had picked me up earlier when she made her usual Saturday afternoon visit to my grandparents’ house. I was the only kid in my house, but I had three cousins at the farm. That visit, though, I didn’t really go to see my cousins so much as to see the baby raccoon. Aunt Catherine loved and fostered dogs, cats, birds, and when the Game Warden brought one by, orphaned baby raccoons.
The living room was the center of the Brungots’ rambling farmhouse. That’s where the TV lived and it was the beating heart of their home. Auntie wasn’t much of a cook but she was one hellava TV watcher.
I always parked myself on the flowered velour couch between the two biggest and plushest teddy bears in Auntie’s extensive collection. She sat in the Boston rocker with the big dog on the floor beside her. Uncle reclined in his corduroy Lazy Boy, the little dog in his lap.
Angled toward the TV in my teddy bear nest, I cradled the baby raccoon. He lay on his back, his bright eyes staring up at me, the tiny fingers of his perfect black hands wrapped around my arm. My teenage cousins were out on dates, my younger cousin put to bed.
Uncle Clarence snored. The TV rumbled. Auntie yelled at the television, “Don’t go into that cellar for crying out loud, the killer’s down there.” I reached for a chip from the bag Auntie had put within reach and snuggled the baby raccoon.