I said to my son I love you Jack and he says I love you more. No Jack just a different love. The saying’s go: There is nothing more precious then the love of a child – there is nothing so powerful as the love of a mothers for her children – there is nothing as strong as a mans love for his wife – there is nothing sweeter than a grandmothers love. All these forms of love, not more or less, just different and how wonderful.
On Dec. 4, 1925 Pauline Speed opened her eyes to the world and gave Lloyd and Velma Speed that precious gift of a child’s love. She attended Mattawamkeag schools and even became the star basketball player for the high school team. I have been trying to picture Grammy going in for a lay-up but I just can seem to bring it in focus.
Her parents moved to Old Orchard Beach but decided to move back to Mattawamkeag. Polly decided to stay. In 1943 there was a war going on and she became our very own version of Rosy the Riveter in a Portland factory. After the war Polly worked at the local Grocery Stores. First Kennett’s, then 17 years at Radley's on Main Street, then finally Zahare’s IGA for 27 years.
A friend of Polly’s, Pat Markey, introduced her to Donald Gillis. During their courtship they would venture to the dance hall at the end of the pier and dance to the big band music of the day. In 1944 they were married and Polly felt the strength of Don’s love for her.
They had their first child Shirley (the Sunbeam bread girl look alike) in 1945. This was her first experience of the power of a mothers love. It happened again 14 years later with the “planned” birth of Kevin in 1959. But it was OK because it was the only way Don could get another Yankee fan in New England.
I was born in 1964 and my sister 3 years after. Our favorite night was Monday’s because it was the night my Grandparents came to visit. They always had our favorite Ice Cream. On Sunday’s we would play scat for pennies or when Little Grammy Gillis was down from Bangor we would play Pokeno. My Grand father would take me to Radley’s to get his and Polly’s beer. They liked Shafer and Radley’s was about the only place within a 100-mile radius you could get the stuff. Grampy would tease her every now and then and call her a Limey. It took me a while before I understood it was a term given to the English.
Don Passed away in 1982 after they had been married for 38 years. I lived next to Grammy for a several years in the apartment on Washington Ave. She moved to Exeter for a few years with her life long friend Pat Markey after his wife had passed on.
She moved back to Old Orchard when Pat passed away and she brought her beloved dog Skipper with her. Now skipper feared only one thing and that was Polly! He was feisty and quick to show his teeth if you were foolish enough to think you could pet him! Polly would try to give him a good swat when he misbehaved but he was just a little faster than she and always managed to stay clear of her hands! When living in a two-story cottage became too much for Polly she moved to Orchard Terrace and was as independent as ever. She enjoyed going to the store with Meme and walking Skipper. She would join us for the Holiday meals and make her famous Cranberry Sauce with whole berries. We will certainly miss them.
My family went to visit Grammy over the last couple of years. I am sorry now that it was not more often. I do know that when Jack came to see her and talk with her I saw what I had felt for so many years, the sweetness of a Grandmothers love. But one other thing almost escaped me, the precious love of Jack for Polly. The precious love of a child. From beginning to end the love in Polly’s life had come full circle. May all of us have their life and love so fulfilled.
There is so much we will miss until we meet again. Although I know that at the end she was in pain and God decided to take her, I cannot help but feel selfish. Grammy I will miss you, all my love your Grandson Jimmy