“PILGRIM MOTHERS”

PERSONAL HISTORY | Pilgrim Mothers | “The Ladies Four O’Clock Club” | The New Yorker magazine | by Sarah Payne Stewart | May 5th 2014 issue.

Concord, Massachusetts

Many will read this wonderful piece with mild bemusement and some will laugh out loud at the absurd currents, contradictions and hypocricies percolating timelessly beneath Protestant culture in New England.  This is a daughter’s story of her beloved mother, their family and their community.

En route to the mother’s eventual death during a pre-op procedure for a heart condition,  we learn about the mother’s frugality, her dutiful habits in housekeeping, her kindness, her devotion to appearances, her elitism, her chronic anxiety, and her unabating and severe foot pain.  These are mentioned in passing as personality traits.

Those of us in Connecticut and Massachusetts recognize them, however, as the telltale signs of a chronic, decades-latent Lyme Disease infection of the nervous system.  Have the unnoticed, accepted disabilities of Lyme Disease become a tribal characteristic?  Have they contributed to culture these several centuries?

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