Ingrid Malone

Dear Harold and Tom, Susan, and Hal;

Words are never enough to provide comfort at a time like this and like you all I too am suffering the loss of Polly. My heart goes out to all of you and please know that I think of you and I think of Polly and all she meant to so many.

I feel very fortunate that I was able to see her about a year ago. Even though she was not feeling her best, we had a very good visit and I was able to tell her how much she meant to me, all the strength and good she had provided in my life and how very much I loved her. Polly was the mother that I wanted to have.

We first met when I was a scared kid of 19 and newly married. She took me under her wing. I know you all know the story of how we met in the Irondequoit Tennis Club tournament and I was lucky enough to win the final match walking away with the first prize of her turkey that she had been winning for the past number of years. Thanksgiving morning I added more insult (without realizing it or meaning to — I was simply clueless) by calling her to then ask how to cook her turkey. Polly told me to chop up 1 cup each of celery and onion to stuff the bird and to add to it 1 cup of UNPOPPED popcorn. She asked if I knew how to tell when the bird was done and of course I said no. She said “the bird is done when you open the oven door and the popcorn blows the ass off the bird”. I think at this point I realized this was not a serious recipe but we would definitely be friends.

Polly was both my mother and my best friend. She generously shared her tennis friends with me and through her I learned where the courts were to play on and I had a ready-made group of players. Over the years we played a lot of singles and the results seesawed back and forth over who would win. It was always great fun and competitive. We partnered together to win countless matches both serious and fun together. She was the best! It finally got to the point where people wouldn’t let us play together against them for fun. She was the best partner who made me look so good!

Polly shared her family with me and she and Harold taught me to sail — my husband Jay who is an avid sailor himself will be eternally grateful for that! We would go out on Radiant and Harold patiently coached me as to where the wind was and how to tack and what the proper terms were for coming about. A good time was had by all.
When I started to relax with Polly and Hal I realized they were not exactly like my parents. My parents never took me skinny-dipping. We went out for a few night sails and dinner. It was a warm calm evening with little wind and Hal offered the opportunity to swim. More than once I was out sailing with friends of Polly & Hal’s whom I had just met for the first time. Oh well. When in Rome.... So off into the water we would go. And I thought Hal was so conservative when we first met.

Polly could be impulsive and she was adventurous. She enjoyed her life and loved to do things to shake people up and have fun doing it. At the time, I always had a cool car to drive — a Jaguar XKE or a Lotus. Polly always wanted me to pick her up and drive us to tennis — she liked tooling around in these cars and she liked making her other friends notice her. One winter day when no one had any business being out driving around, she came over to my house and we went tooling about in the Lotus (we put a tennis ball on the antenna for safety — her idea) slip sliding about the snowy roads.

She and Hal were there for me when my marriage fell apart and I thought my world was ending and didn’t know what to do. She got me through so much. After I moved away from Rochester, I guess I finally started to grow up and become the person Polly told me she was proud of. She was always so proud of her family. She bragged about her son who was so smart and became a doctor. Unfortunately for me, I never really had the chance to get to know Hal (the son). She talked about what a talented musician and wonderful cook Susan was and what a devoted mother she was. Polly told me many stories about Tommy — he was just in high school when I came into Polly’s life so I heard about the usual teen year’s angst. Tommy is the one I knew the best. She talked about how he could grow anything and how good he was with animals. There were lots of Reggie & Tommy stories.

Polly was so proud of her family and how important each one was to her. She loved all of you so very much. While being a great mother was very important to her being, she absolutely doted on Harold. Her eyes lit up and she talked about what she was going to fix for his dinner or how excited she was to be going off sailing with him. He was her partner and soul mate. How I longed to have someone like that in my life. Fortunately, I finally found Jay and got it right.

In recent years our letters dealt with what was going on in our families and with our kids. Polly was so very proud of her kids and grandkids and what
good people they had grown to be. She told me she was proud of how I straightened out my life and how I was a good mother to Kevin having endured all the difficulties we did. She led by example. I wanted to be like her. Polly taught me so many things — how to cook (the men in my life thank her!) and keep an organized house and all the things that make your house your home. Those are the wonderful things she gave to Harold each and every day.

She was fun and somewhat brash but always respectful of others. There is no doubt that that this wonderful lady had more to do than perhaps any other person in making me who I am. She is the mother I always wanted. Her passing leaves a huge hole in my heart. I hope her spirit is at peace and that she is on that big grass tennis court in the sky banging away backhands or diving off some sailboat to take a quick swim.

Having babbled on long enough, I hope all of you take comfort in how many wonderful things Polly will be remembered for. Tennis in Friday Harbor is quite limited but this spring the high school tennis courts will be the recipient of a new bench for spectators with a small plaque to commemorate Polly. While the people here may not recognize her name, her good intentions and the ideals she stood for are universal. She was all about our children and teaching them.

Polly and I had many good long talks during my visit last year and we discussed several heavy duty topics including her passing. I hope all of you will understand that I choose to honor Polly and her memory in my own way here and you are not offended that I did not come east to attend her memorial. This was one of a few things we talked about. Polly and I agreed that there would not be a reason for me to come to the service. She and I already said our good byes and I was lucky to be able to tell her how much I loved her and respected her and how very much she meant to me. We also had recently spoken on the phone and only a few short weeks ago I had written her a letter. I know she knew how much I cared for her. I would have come back to honor her and to offer my support to all of you. I hope you know that you have that even though I am not physically there with you. If ever I could do anything for any member of Polly’s family, know that I would do whatever needed no questions asked just because of Polly.

I was not lucky enough to be a blood relative but she meant the world to me and I truly share your loss.

Forty Love Polly.
Ingrid Malone