1999—The Permanent Contagion:
Family History
The Big Bang: Since that day, now twenty-plus years ago, I haven’t read a book of fiction. If I’ve gone to a movie theater, it has been for family/social reasons, not because I’ve chosen to participate for my personal entertainment. Valerie and I deep-sixed our satellite TV connection, some years ago, when it became clear that we were paying but not partaking. Entertainment, as such, seems pretty much a waste of time, now that I’ve contracted the family history contagion. Not boasting, nor prescribing: just observing and reporting.
The next Memorial Day, I set out to find Granny Hepzibah’s1 grave. Paused in Billerica2 and purchased roses for her. Found her resting place in Hillsborough Center, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire. Stood in the drizzle for an hour, delivering my report to Granny. While it’s not quite true that she had reached out of the grave, grabbed me by the throat, and called me a turkey for neglecting my heritage, the effect was much as if she had.

1By the bye, have you ever encountered the meaning of “Hepzibah,” in its original Hebrew? It’s “she is my delight.” Check out Isaiah 62, if you’re an onomast like me and therefore rejoice in such things.

2 Why Billerica? Well, the records say she was born there. Which makes one wonder how she came to marry “Oliver Wheeler of Acton,” a couple of towns away. It’s a fun story, which I treat in my Section on Carlisle.
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