Pauline Furman turned 89 in October this past year, and has lived in her Birch Lane apartment managed by Avesta Housing for the better part of a decade. An interior decorating enthusiast, she has adorned her walls with beautifully framed Victorian sketches and shelves of antique china she inherited from relatives. Modestly and gracefully, Pauline has made a home for herself in Gorham one way or another for a very long time. She and her husband built their house in Gorham in 1955, and her family has even deeper roots in western Maine. Over the years Pauline cared for her grandmother, then took care of her mother, and now she has two daughters (whom she refers to as her two angels) who help take care of her.
"I'm an awful lucky old woman," she says with a smile after listing all her family and friends who shop for her groceries, help balance her check book, and call or stop in every day. But Pauline's life has suffered its fair share of tragedy as well. In 1998 she and her husband, Merritt, had moved into a trailer park in their new mobile home on a Saturday, and on Sunday he passed away. "I miss him more and more every day." Pauline says, but is also careful to note how lucky she was that she and Merritt were able to travel to every state in the continental USA. She still has the photo albums from their various adventures. Pauline didn't feel she could stay in that trailer without Merritt but she did as she waited four years before receiving a call telling her she could move into one of the apartments at Birch Lane.
"The people here are wonderful." Pauline proclaims of her neighbors and of Sara Forgione, the resident service coordinator at Birch Lane apartments who confirms that the residents here have formed a community where everyone looks out for everyone else. This is absolutely invaluable to someone like Pauline who, as she approaches the 90-year-mark, has come to rely on a support system of people to help her with the things that she cannot do for herself anymore; although Pauline hasn’t given up her passions easily. She golfed until the age of 83 and still completes puzzles on a small work space in her living room. And she remains ever grateful to those who help her.
"I don't know why they all want to help me. I'm no different than anyone else." Pauline states this after remarking that she's not sure her life is interesting enough to write about. Of course after meeting her, it's easy to see that her selflessness, sense of humor, and understated warm amiability make her as compelling a subject as anyone.