‘So lucky to have each other’

Brooksby couple savors every day together

Created date

January 7th, 2019
John Murphy (left) and Joan Pappalardo in costume for their recent performance in Brooksby Village’s Haunted Holiday Hotel.

For John Murphy and Joan Pappalardo, this season of life is infinitely sweeter than they could have imagined.

“Our relationship has enriched my life in countless ways,” says Joan. “It’s a gift to have someone who loves you and cares for you.”

John and Joan met at Brooksby Village, the Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass., when they were both cast in the community’s Theatre at the Pond production of Love Rides the Rails.

“I played the villain, Simon Darkway, and Joan was the dance hall queen, Carlotta Cortez,” says John. “That’s how we got to know each other.”

It was the first foray into acting for John and Joan, who each discovered a full complement of social and creative opportunities waiting for them at the Peabody community.

First impressions

Joan moved to Brooksby Village in 2003 from Medford, Mass., two years after her husband passed away. She founded Brooksby’s twice-monthly karaoke night and is a regular on-air personality for Brooksby TV, the community’s in-house television station.

John moved to Brooksby from Melrose in 2004 with his wife Janice, who suffered a series of strokes and passed away in 2006. Following his loss, John began to re-engage at Brooksby, finding his niche with the Brooksby Singers, the Theatre at the Pond acting troupe, and as emcee of the community’s special events.

“Joan and I were friends first, but then it became something more,” says John. “I realized my feelings for her were changing when I found myself always wanting to talk with her.”

Joan says John made a big impression, literally. Standing 6-foot, 5 inches tall, John dwarfs Joan’s 5-foot, 1-inch frame.

“He’s so thoughtful and caring,” says Joan, a former nurse who worked at Massachusetts General Hospital for 38 years. “Life brightens whenever he’s around.”

Shared experiences

The couple’s relationship deepened as they began to experience life together.

“We like to attend shows at the North Shore Music Theatre,” says John. “We were at one particularly good performance, and it hit me how happy I was to be there with Joan. There’s a certain exhilaration that comes when you’re sharing a great experience with someone you care about.”

The couple is up for adventure, whether at home or abroad. At Brooksby, John and Joan continue their theatrical antics, most recently appearing in the community’s Theatre at the Pond production of Haunted Holiday Hotel.

“We’re not afraid to put on a costume and act silly,” says John.

They’ve also traveled the globe, taking trips to Europe, Bermuda, and the Canadian Rockies. Joan wears John’s college ring around her neck on a gold chain he bought for her in Italy.

Reasons to love

Both agree there’s a different quality to love the second time around.

“When you’re young, love has a lot to do with physical attraction,” says John. “Now that we’re older, there are certain qualities I appreciate in a person—supportive, honest, loving, fun. Joan has all of those attributes.”

Joan, for her part, appreciates John’s steady presence.

“It’s nice to end each day with someone you love,” says Joan. “We’re so lucky to have each other.”