West Tisbury: Sue Kennedy's memorial service


I hope the turnout of so many friends for Sue Kennedy’s memorial service brought some comfort to Brian and Drew and their family. The Ag Hall was beyond full Sunday afternoon. Every bench was full; people were standing all around the room and outside the door. Sue touched everyone in that room, some literally as the most wonderful nurse who cared for so many of us, and a dear friend besides.

I met Sue when Mike and I went for blood tests to get our marriage license. That was 1984. She, Mary Alley, and Ethel Sherman ran Dr. Gerry Westover’s office in downtown Edgartown. The office eventually moved out to Katama, and Mike and I moved with it. We moved, too, when they took an office in the hospital. Gerry left the Island and his practice to Bill Tsikitas, then to John Lamb, then to Beth Donnelly and Ellen McMahon. Through all the changes, Sue was constant and in charge. She was the one who knew everyone, who got us in for an unscheduled appointment on a busy day, who knew us for so many years that our medical charts were memorized in her head. She gave shots and drew blood painlessly. Her hand on your wrist made your pulse slow to normal. Just looking at Sue made you feel better. You knew you were in the best hands.

We all worried about her when she began having her own medical journey. She wanted to continue working, and that’s what she did. However bad she felt, she always smiled and hugged, carried on in her competent way, caring for everyone else.

At home she carried on, too. She wanted to cook, to keep her home and garden, to care for her husband and son. It seems only days ago that Sue and her son, Drew, had Saturday-morning breakfast dates at the Plane View, that Drew was a little boy, not the grown man he is now. Only days ago, too, that Sue and Brian had plans and projects. Only days ago that Sue was strong and healthy, that we looked at gardens and laughed together over sillinesses and town politics, talked about books and recipes, husbands and pets, that we were younger and life was forever.

Memories of Sue’s zest for living will stay with me forever. I will especially remember her on my down days when I want to give up, that she never did, and that she believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself.

It’s hard to go on to everyday news, to cherry trees and blooming pear trees that I watch carefully every spring, reveling in their bounty. The cherry tree at Polly Hill Arboretum is called ‘Abundance’: aptly named. Rhubarb and asparagus tips are poking through the soil. Peas, onions, leeks, lettuce, spinach, and potatoes are going in. My ‘Elizabeth’ magnolia has swelling yellow buds; I hope the weather will stay warm so they open and I can enjoy them for a good, long time.

I visited with Nancy Cramer last week to see what was new in her studio. She has been making jewelry this winter, in addition to the beautifully styled coats, tunics, and scarves, and the weaving she wanted time for after closing her gallery. We spent a good part of our time looking out her back windows, watching a parade of swans, ducks, geese, and turtles vying for dominance and ownership of what Nancy and Dick Burt call “Turtle Rock,” a good-size spot in their pond, perfect for sunbathing. Watching wildlife is one of those mesmerising activities. It’s easy to lose an afternoon just seeing what happens next.

If you haven’t seen Jack Ryan’s exhibition of drawings at the West Tisbury library yet, make sure you do before the end of this month. They are amazingly beautiful, well-designed, intricately detailed drawings of structures in his native New York City. They are done in pen and ink and have the softness and richness of tone of an aquatint or engraving, all with tiny marks and dashes that your eye brings together into images of the Chrysler Building or the Brooklyn Bridge. It is a powerful show.

Another exhibition to see is Max Skjoldebrand’s, on view at the Playhouse Art Space in Vineyard Haven. It’s called “Distant Voices: An Exhibition of Black-and-White Photographs of Forlorn Buildings on Martha’s Vineyard.” The opening reception is Saturday, April 30, 4 to 6 pm, and will be on display through May 26.

Several events are planned for next Saturday, May 7. I’m listing them here now so you have time to sign up or plan ahead to attend.

The 37th Women’s Symposium will be held at the Chilmark Community Center from 9 to noon. The topic is “Dancing Around.” The symposiums are always worth attending, filled with interesting women and ideas. There is no charge, but donations are always welcome.

The Mini Maker Faire will be held at the Ag Hall on May 7 from 10 to 4. They are still looking for presenters, performers, makers, and volunteers. If interested, call Jennifer Rapuano at 508-696-4211, ext. 112, or email mvminimakerfaire@gmail.com.

Sign up for a training session to participate in a statewide effort to monitor the breeding habits of horseshoe crabs. The training session, from 1 to 3 pm, includes classroom time and a walk on the beach, so bring waterproof boots. Sign up by calling Felix Neck: 508-627-4850.

The Vineyard Montessori School is hosting A Big Night Out at Lola’s in Oak Bluffs, on Saturday, May 7, from 7 to 11 pm. There will be music, dancing, drinks, small plates, live and silent auctions. Tickets are $30, available at the door or from any Montessori School parents.

It’s the annual Pink and Green Weekend in Edgartown, so there will be festivities and events to attend Friday through Sunday. The schedule is online: edgartownboardoftrade.com.

And it’s the running of the Kentucky Derby. So gather your friends and supplies for making the perfect mint juleps and pick your horse. Settle down in time to watch all the stories about the horses and trainers, to look at the ladies in their grand hats, and to watch those glorious Thoroughbreds run for the roses.