Saturday, November 19, 2011

In Galway Bay: A Love Story

There are, the Greeks thought, five rivers in Hades.  The most interesting was surely Lethe, the river of oblivion or forgetfulness.  The dead, it was thought, were to drink from the river Lethe to forget their prior earthly existence.
Because water purifies.  
And so, Peter Pringle asked Sunny Jacobs to go for a swim in Galway Bay.
The sea has such a cleansing power about it.
She needed to be cleansed not of her memories, and surely not of her sins, but of her torment.
For Sunny spent nearly 17 years in Florida prisons, several of those years on death row there, for the murders of a couple of cops.  Murders committed by one Walter Norman Rhodes Jr., a key witness against Sunny and her husband.  Her husband was Jesse Tafero, and the good people of the state of Florida murdered him in retaliation for the crimes Rhodes committed.  But they didn't murder Sunny.  Eventually they set her free. After, as I said, nearly 17 years.
So when Peter Pringle asked Sunny to go for a swim in the Bay, when he told her about the cleansing power of the sea, she agreed.
Peter knew, first hand, about the cleansing power of the sea - or at least of Galway Bay.  It's where he went for a swim after he was released from prison in Ireland.  15 years he served, several on death row there, for a couple of cop killings.
Because water heals.
It was 1998 when Peter urged Sunny to take that dip.  That was some 6 years after Sunny was freed, 3 after Pringle's release.  She was in Ireland to speak at a program put on by Amnesty International.  He was in the audience.
Which is how these things begin.
Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle were married last week in New York.  
The guests included Brooke Shields, Marlo Thomas, and Amy Irving.  They are among the actresses who've portrayed Sunny Jacobs in The Exonerated, a play telling, in words taken from the public record and from interviews, the true stories of Sunny and of five men (Delbert Tibbs, Gary Gauger, Kerry Max Cook, David Keaton, Robert Earl Hayes) who spent years on death row before being exonerated because, well, because they didn't do it.
Vincent M. Mallozzi, who covered the wedding for the Times describes what happened.
As Ms. Jacobs and Mr. Pringle exchanged wedding vows and Irish Claddagh rings before Robin E. Cofer, a Hindu priest, the three actresses, all holding hands, inched closer to Ms. Jacobs.
When Ms. Jacobs was asked, “Will thou love, honor and cherish him, do thou so declare?” the actresses replied on cue: “We do.” 
It's OK.  Go ahead.  Tears are water.
They cleanse and heal, too.
And we can all use it.


  1. I love this post. I look at these things with reason, and sometimes humor. Or attempt to, anyway.

    You turn them into poetry.

  2. Nice. They were on Democracy Now today -