Being an old fashioned kind of guy, Hershell Ostrepeller set aside Sunday mornings to read newspapers. It was not considered very cool because everything was online, but he enjoyed the feel of the pages. He would sip a cup of green tea and read articles that were about all kinds of different situations taking place.

One of the articles in his hometown paper was about a laundromat that was working on creating a special sanitizer that could be applied to clothes after they were dried. It would offer a layer of protection against bacteria or germs, or at least that’s what the laundromat’s owner Mike Millar was hoping. He said in the article that he was no scientist but being in the dirty clothes business for twenty years made him feel like an expert in “washables.’’ He said if anybody could clean things up regarding Covid-19 it would be him. He then mentioned he was looking for investors.

Herschell was reading an international business publication about the impact of Covid-19 on small businesses and the questions about the long term effects on the economy. A spokesperson for a Dairy in Wisconsin owned by a Hedge Fund was quoted as saying that it was true small farmers were going out of business on a daily basis but there was no reason to panic. There was no loss in milk production because factory farms would continue to grow exponentially and increase production. Wayne Rutherford was also quoted as saying that his company would soon start controlling the planting and harvesting of crops.

The theory that people shouldn’t worry about small farms disappearing from the agricultural landscape made Herschell want to throw up. The family farm would soon be a thing of the past. Another not so great change in the fabric of American life. Plus food growth and supply was heading into the hands of corporations and if history proved one thing, that never worked out well.

As Herschell was reading the World Business View, he saw an image that made him do a double take. The guy looked very familiar. It took a minute but then he realized it was his second cousin Jacob and he was being written up because he had married the heir to the Wadsworth Jones conglomerate, Elizabeth Wadsworth Jones.

Staring at the picture and reading the article made Herschell feel both sad and distant. In the past family Weddings would bring everyone together to celebrate. During the time of Covid-19 the couple had married in an intimate ceremony at the Wadsworth Jones Estate in the Hamptons. Due to restrictions caused by the pandemic, it had been a very exclusive ceremony.

A quick google of the name Wadsworth Jones showed that they were among the elite of the United States. Mr. Rance Wadsworth Jones was on the Forbe’s wealthiest list with an estimated worth of six billion dollars. Rance had inherited most of his money from his Father, Bartlett Wadsworth who had been a Sugar baron in Florida. Elizabeth was a daughter from his first wife, Ingrid. Rance had married twice but Elizabeth was his only legitimate child. Mr Wadsworth Jones who was now seventy four was currently married to Greta Moore, of England’s Moore Family.

Herschell studied the picture of the Wedding. He used to be in touch with his cousins and they would share news good and bad, but for some reason the contact between cousins had stopped. It was surprising that his cousin Marcie hadn’t shared the news about Jacob’s marriage. She used to be in touch about everything including her husband Marvin’s sciatica.

Herschell immediately turned on his computer (breaking his Sunday oath of not checking or writing emails)and sent a letter to Marcie and Marvin congratulating them on Jacob’s nuptials.

Herschell went back to reading his papers and was just digesting the fact that North Korea had a massive rocket that could carry multiple nuclear warheads that could easily hit the United States when his computer beeped announcing a new email had arrived. He looked and it was from Marcie.

‘’Hi Herschell, I’m surprised you found out about Jacob getting married. He didn’t tell us till it was over. He went with Elizabeth to the Hamptons, and the next thing we knew he called to tell us he had married her. It was sad because we’ve always been close, but Jacob has been changing. Money can do strange things to people. Look I don’t want to complain because I love my son, but his values have changed. He is going to work for Elizabeth’s Dad (which Marvin and I think is a bad idea) and our family doesn’t seem very important to him. I haven’t written anybody about his marriage, because we don’t really know what to say. We’ve only met Elizabeth for a few minutes. She attended Jacob’s graduation with us. When Jacob told us he was getting serious with Elizabeth and was thinking about proposing to her, we asked if she would be converting so he could have Jewish kids. He became very upset, told us to mind our own business and left the house and we didn’t see him for weeks. We want him to be happy Herschell, but we are worried. If you forget where you come from you forget who you are. Anyways, I send my love, thanks for the nice note and when I’m ready to talk I’ll give you a call. Right now Marvin and I are feeling kind of lost.’’

The email made Herschell feel despondent. If Jacob could get married without his parents around, it said everything. Herschell knew Marcie and Marvin, they were decent, good people, who loved their only son with their hearts and souls. It was sad that they had been treated as persona non-gratis. Marvin wasn’t a Wall Street wonder but he was a hard working guy who had made an honest living with his two shoe stores. He was a Mensch and was always giving to charity. He was a proud past President of his Synagogue. Marvin was a good role model and Marcie was a lovely woman who wouldn’t say a bad word about anybody. How could Jacob have treated them like shmattes. Shouldn’t his fiancee or her parents have felt a little bit bad that his parents weren’t there to watch their only son tie the knot.

As Herschell finished reading the email, he thought about other cousins and how he had lost touch with many of them. What had caused it? How could a family that had once been close become strangers?

The last article Herschell read before throwing his newspapers into the recycle bin was about the amazing advancements in technology. A research paper out of Harvard claimed that the inter connectivity of people around the world was at an all time high. Herschell thought long and hard about what he had just read. Technology was bringing people around the world together, but it couldn’t keep families close. There was something wrong with the whole scene and he would never figure it out. The only thing he knew was that he felt very bad for Marvin and Marcie, and he was confident there were many more people like them. He wondered if cousins would even know cousins in the future. He was fooling himself, he knew the answer. It was kind of like newspapers, they were still around if you looked for them, but the truth was they really weren’t very important anymore.

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.

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