“I’m as crazy about her now as I was then,” Ken blurts out as his wife, Polly, describes the circumstances in which the two met. Polly’s aunt worked at a dry cleaning facility, and asked her one day “Would you like to meet a cute boy?” That cute boy was Ken, a Korean War veteran who drove a truck transporting the clothes for the dry cleaning facility. A few days after Polly told her aunt that she’d be interested in meeting him, Ken called her to
ask her out, and later that year, when he was 26 and she was just 19, the two were married. Their 50-year anniversary has long since come and gone.
After marriage, Ken and Polly’s lives were dedicated to raising their 5 children. Ken continued to drive truck, and Polly stayed at home and later became a nurse’s aide to help pay the bills. After retirement, they tried various living arrangements. While living on their own in a trailer, Polly felt an acute pain in her chest in the middle of the night. She
waited to see if the pain would go away, but at 3am she called her daughter. Upon arriving at the ER their daughter cried “I need two wheelchairs! My dad can’t walk, and my mom’s having a heart attack!” Both Polly and Ken laugh about the night now, but they remember the fear that struck them that day.
The incident prompted them to try living with their daughter, but lifestyles clashed and they applied for affordable housing at Avesta’s Little Falls Landing in Windham. Three months later they moved in. With their new security, Ken and Polly took up square dancing at a few local churches. They took lessons, and Polly even made her own skirts and Ken’s ties for the dances.
Taking advantage of the wonderful comunity space Little Falls Landing offers, last year they were able to host a Christmas gathering for their entire family. It brougt presents, food and holiday cheer. Most importantly though, Ken and Polly’s new home provides them with the comfort they both need to take care of each other. Once a nurse’s aide, now Polly nurses Ken. She makes his meals, and administers his medication, and helps him stay healthy as he has now gone 25 years without a drink and 15 without a cigarette. Ken enlivens the room with self-deprecating humor, and never misses a moment to tell anyone who will listen how lucky he is to have such a lovely, giving wife. Their apartment overlooks the water, and Ken shows off his impressive movie collection. Before the interview is over, we ask Polly and Ken if there’s anything else they would want people to know about their lives. Polly shrugs. “We stay very close with our children. They visit us and they take us out. We don’t need other people to take care of us, not yet anyway. We’re able to take care of each other, and that’s what feels right to us.”
Ken and Polly Conant
Residents, Little Falls Landing