I write about her a lot, maybe too much, but she’s such an important presence in my life and work, it’s hard to set her aside.

First of all, we’re a very visible team now, because some years ago I started referring to her as “She,” as in: “She always says,” or, “She’s listening to this, so I can’t say much.”

Eventually, even my daughters, when they call, will ask, “Is She home?”

J.P. and Kay Devine are seen in their younger years. Photo courtesy of J.P. Devine

In our years in the theater in New York and up and down the East Coast, we would always get cast together as young late teens, young married couples, even brothers and sisters. We never accepted jobs unless we both were cast.

She’s been part of my life since we fell in love on an escalator in Manhattan. As a poor actor, I knew that she came from money — not big money, just comfort money.

It was the way she carried herself, the clothes she wore, and how she put the pieces together.

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I learned to do that as an actor. She was born with it.

On stage, older actors always stood close to her in scenes, even when they weren’t supposed to, because they knew she was always line-perfect from day one, and that she even knew their lines.

So when they forgot a line, or even a paragraph, she would find a way to whisper it to them.

Even today, wherever we go, I stay close to her, because she knows all my “lines” and remembers people’s names and their backstories, and it’s for sure that here in Waterville, she taught their kids and knows their grades and problems.

On these occasions, I just find a drink and go sit down somewhere.

There was a famous night back in 1957, when we were drying dishes together in her apartment. I blurted out, “Will you marry me?” and without a pause or taking a breath, she shot back, “Yes.”

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And then we danced, in the kitchen.

It was as if she had been ready with the answer from that first day on the escalator, that on the third date, I would ask that question. So she started practicing. And then, we danced through the years together.

Kay Joly Devine looks at her husband, J.P. Devine, on March 26, 2019. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

I still stand close to her even when we’re alone, because I know that sooner or later there will come a day when I don’t know where something is in the house, my keys, my cellphone, anything. And she’ll tell me where they are.

I think now that one day, on the stage we share each moment, before our final curtain falls, a time may come when I may forget my “lines,” maybe even my name, who I am, or worse, who She is.

I still stay close to her, so if, God forbid, that happens, she’ll lean over, and without taking a breath, without a pause, she’ll whisper in my ear.

“You’re Jerry Devine, the handsome guy on the escalator. I’m the girl you touched, and I’ll love you to the day I die.”

And then we’ll dance.

Happy birthday, Kay.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 


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