How many people show up at a memorial service, say, 160 years after the person's death when it's a Sunday in the middle of July and the temperature is 95? In the case of Margaret Fuller, a chapel-full, as per yesterday at Mount Auburn's Bigelow Chapel, perhaps as many as 75 (sorry, I failed to count).
The Rev. Rosemarie Smurzynski led the service, giving the eulogy (please publish it, Rosemarie), which was followed by Jessa Piaia, portraying Margaret and reading a sampling of Margaret's premonitions about her death (there were many; Jessa read from a letter Margaret had written to her mother), and original "rememberances" written by her contemporaries: Emerson (Wendell Refior), Thoreau (Richard Smith), James Freeman Clarke (Rob Velella), Elizabeth Peabody (Dorothy Emerson), and Julia Ward Howe (Deb Goss).
From the chapel, we walked to the Fuller Family Plot at the cemetery, where I made brief remarks,* read the cenotaph, and encouraged people to step forward, take a snapdragon, bouquets of which my husband, Jeff Stamps, and I had carried from the chapel in baskets, to say a few words about Margaret. Many came forward, including one of Margaret's descendants and her namesake, Margaret Fuller. Rob Velella placed a wreath at the cenotaph that Fuller's family had erected in her memory in 1854.
Jeff and I took two snapdragons and placed them on the marker for Bucky and Anne Fuller's graves, about twenty feet away.
Many snapped pictures during the service and at the plot. Please post them, friends, or send some to me and I'll post them here.
*I can't recall exactly what I said but here's the gist:
Margaret liked to walk and she also liked to push people to their limits so the long walk from the chapel to the plot in the terrible heat was fitting. (I then read the text of the cenotaph--above). After people had placed the flowers, I noted that it's customary among her biographers and admirers to say that Margaret's life was cut too short, that she should have lived longer than to 40. But, perhaps, she had lived just the right number of years because here we were, 200 years after her birth, dozens of us, still celebrating her life and works. And perhaps 200 years from now, when she will be 400, there will be a similar number gathered to honor her remarkable spirit which fills the sky.