In a Graveyard

Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Of all the places to experience a pivotal moment in life, a graveyard was mine. After a week of research, my grandmother and I stepped through the old, rusty cemetery gate and were surprised to see the headstone of Moses Short a few feet from the entrance. This name had intrigued me for as long as I could remember. I had seen it almost daily as a child -- painted on a plaque, along with the title "Pharmacist" -- nailed next to the front door of my family's 1780s-era house in my former hometown just north of Boston. Ever since I was a kid, I had always wondered who Moses Short was. Did he live in this house alone, or with a large family? Did he fight in the Revolutionary War? Did he simply operate a primitive colonial pharmacy, or was he another 18th-century virtuoso, a second Ben Franklin? It wasn't until that summer, long after we'd moved out of the house, that I began searching for answers.

Since moving to Nashville, I have had a yearly tradition of visiting my grandparents, who live just a few blocks away from the Moses Short house. Walking by that old plaque one evening, I suddenly remembered all those questions I had about Moses Short. The next day, my grandmother and I set out for the genealogy section of the local...

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