Last Time for Judy and Joe

Last Time for Judy and Joe

When I went down to the docks to drop my bags off at my boat, there were Judy and Joe, sitting on what passes for a bench at the marina, the sun squinting down on their hatless heads, Joe in his familiar worn green sweater, Judy in dirty blue polyester sweats with pockets. They both looked forlorn and haggard. She was worrying over her mobile, while he was cry-smiling as I stopped to say good-bye. I’d only just met them this summer, these elegant nonagenarians at the end of our cove—former prominent psychiatrists, always a whiskey in hand at 5 PM and cheese on a board to slice. Hunched and gray, proud and tough, Judy’d shuffle around the house refusing help. Joe, going deaf, and I was told, demented, would manage at 98 to get through his days. Judy has said for weeks this is their last summer up here, the last time they’ll look out from their screened porch at their view of the mountains beyond the lake as the boats pass by, the last time they’ll spend their summer away from New York.

summer people
a boating life

Each has a black valise in front of them, as if a whole half lifetime could pack into a case as small as that. The shock of finality setting in—their last boat ride from the island to the marina, the last time Judy would boss the one person on the island she could hire, and the last limo ride in the black Lincoln back to New York. Once the leaves begin their tint, we islanders usually say good-bye for the season and close up. We say Have a good winter, or Until ice out, and mean it, but this time, I couldn’t, so when Judy and Joe drove away, I was certain at least something of them wouldn’t leave that car.

grasped farewells
papery skin
scattered leaves

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