Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea change
Into something rich and strange.
- The Tempest – Act II
With this song of Ariel from Shakespeare, Mary Lee Fowler began her Weblog, Full Fathom Five, in January 2004, by dedicating it to her father who was lost at sea in World War II. That war takes up a lot of space in Mary Lee’s blog, most recently with a touching entry about her visit to the new World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“The lines for hot dogs and soda were so long we had to wait forty-five minutes in the hot sun. The pilot had diabetes and a yellow tinge to his skin; another vet near us had oxygen tubes coming out his nose. Both of them refused to go ahead of me and my friend; we tried again and again, but they'd take no favors. And although they loved telling us about their service, they didn't want any praise. It embarrassed them, because they truly believe that the friends they saw die did most of the work. That's who they'd come for. ‘I still wake up in the middle of the night," one vet told me, "and wonder where they are.’”
Mary Lee, who turned 60 this spring, lives in rural Maine with her husband. She is a writer and teacher who is also an ardent tennis fan, an activist in local community affairs and a yoga practitioner. She is a careful observer who draws sharp, smart conclusions as in this post following her stint as a delegate to the Maine state Democratic convention earlier this year:
- if you're too skeptical to be swept away by political fervor, don't go to one of these things.
- if you distrust appeals to emotion and sentiment, ditto.
- if you're a born observer, and tend to stand outside events looking in, ditto.
- if you've always been more effective at the local level than at national or global politics, ditto.
- if you need fully developed ideas rather than phrases to understand things, ditto.
- if you don't like speeches interrupted every two minutes by standing ovations, ditto.
- if you're any of the above, no matter how hard you're recruited for one of these things, just say no.
Mary Lee writes with a grace and clarity you expect but rarely find in English teachers these days, and she is a joy to read whether it’s a short, funny comment and photo on the mating habits of ladybugs or her account last week of her father-in-law’s final illness - a hymn that is both a tribute and a cri de coeur:
“It wasn't right that we had to watch this man with the perennial spring in his step, flat on his back and struggling for every breath. It wasn't right that we had to stand or sit there at his bedside looking down on him, he who was the true head of our family. It was unseemly to witness him as a passive victim, so antithetical to his true nature. The tales of elderly from other cultures being put out on ice floes, and of animals crawling off into the woods to die alone, all make sudden sense now.”
I so enjoy Mary Lee, whatever she writes, that if I don’t stop now, I’ll quote the whole damned blog. Better you should click on over to Full Fathom Five and read it for yourself. You will thank me for the link, I promise.