Baby George was my uncle on my mother’s side, although he died of pneumonia in 1931 when he was only 3, so it is difficult for me to think of him as my uncle. Uncles are adults, not babies.
He died so young our lives did not overlap, and I never knew him, but I often heard of him. He was the youngest of my mother’s family by 7 years and clearly a “mistake,” but was the baby of the family and doted on by everyone, especially his adult sisters. I have a photo taken shortly after he died of the rest of the family in an unidentified park with a note on the back saying they were all on a vacation to help get over his death. When I visited my grandparents, I often played with a stuffed dog my grandmother kept in a closet. It had been Baby George’s.
He is buried in Arlington Cemetery along with my grandparents and their unmarried children. His is the earliest name on the headstone. A photo similar to the photo above was always displayed as an 8 x 12 enlargement in a silver frame in my grandmother’s living room.
I was reminded of him as I was touching up the editing of this old photo. I could not help thinking that death, however painful, can also be a blessing. There are about six photos of him, and in all of them he has this same sullen, unsmiling expression. Perhaps the best part of his life was already over. His only brother and next-to-youngest did not turn out well—spoiled, my mother used to say. Baby George would have been even more spoiled. We always assume a baby’s future life will be one of happiness and success, a continuing joy to their friends and family, but experience reminds us this is often not true.
We will never know the path his life would have taken.