Greta S. Olsen


April 06, 1920
- May 23, 2008

BOWERBANK - Hi Mum,

May 23, 2008, was a beautiful day and you chose it as your own. The sun was bright, the grasses were lush and green and the sky was true blue. You had been outside a few days previously so you could actually feel the sunshine on your face, see the tulips bobbing in the wind and notice leaves unfurling on all the trees. They had mown the lawn that day and the aroma of fresh cut grass was in the air. You had lost so much strength the past few weeks, but seemed to enjoy getting outside to enjoy the pleasant spring day.

You were born April 6, 1920, in Braintree, MA, to Stanley R. and Greta I. (Locke) Sulis. Grandparents were Helen (Sanborn) and Frederick Sulis as well as Florence (Ross) and Robert Locke. Your many aunts and uncles consisted of Florence, Helen and George Sulis, as well as Florence, Edith, Maude, Louise, Jenny , Elizabeth and Robert Locke .Born on May 6, 1924 was Stanley R. Sulis Jr. Weymouth, MA was where you received your early education, and the two pets you had while growing up were "Patchie" the dog and "Beanie" the cat. Oh, the stories you would tell about Uncle Stan! You always had great stuff to relate regarding the trouble he got into! While you, on the other hand, were always well-behaved and stayed out of trouble!
Early on you mentioned that you and your family had made it through the Depression with patience and perseverance and sticking together. Your younger brother Stan and yourself would take the little wagon to the perimeter fence at Bethlehem Steel and gather up odd pieces of coal that had spilled out beyond the fence. Those precious wagon loads were brought back to your own home where your folks burned them in the family furnace. Sundays were spent at Aunt Edieís for the big meal of the week. It was a desperate time but you made it, and were proud to have done so.

In 1938 you graduated from Weymouth High School. Two of your favorite classes were English and French. Your closest friends and classmates were Frannie Quinn, the Johnson twins, Roth Noreen and Evelyn Wright. Steadfast and true were your ties with them, with only death severing those bonds. Tennis and swimming kept you trim; reading and movies you enjoyed always.

After graduating from high school you went to work as a dental assistant for Dr. John W. Gourley in East Weymouth. Itís a good thing you were pleasant and courteous, for sometimes the job got very demanding ! Children werenít always agreeable in the chair, nor were they quiet and still. But for many years you stayed on and were well-suited to your work.

And then along came the boyfriends....until you married your handsome young sailor, John A. Olsen on Oct. 9, 1943. You followed him willingly wherever he was stationed, even Key West in Florida. You always made the best of everything, even when the snakes and scorpions there in the Florida climate made you uncomfortable. While Dad was stationed on the U.S.S. Borie and the U.S.S. Wyoming, your home was with your folks and you worked there in Weymouth.

Your younger brother Stan Jr. married Audrey (Pike) and they had 3 girls, Carol, Gretchen, and Heidi. You often teased that your nieces may have gotten Stanís intelligence, but YOUR good looks ! Quick to tell of their accomplishments, your pride in their deeds was obvious.

Your first home with John was on Summer Street in Weymouth, and that is the town in which Cherylee (Olsen) Brown and Karen (Olsen) Smith were born. You both did so many things for us. It seemed as if we were always camping, tromping through the woods, going to firing ranges (Dad-Navy), fishing, hunting, raising vegetables or going to the beaches. Oh, the times at the salt water beaches! Picnics on the beach with the blankets, the deviled eggs, the big umbrella stuck in the hot sand and swimming Ďtil we dropped. Back then the family was a unit and we did things together.

Remember, Mum, when you were the leader for the Camp Fire Girls in our area ? Everything was in place for a group -- except the volunteer leader. You did it, Mum, and it was the best ! You used our own big kitchen table for the girls snacks, then their crafts, then the work was planned there to earn our beads for our vests. Your arrangements for visits to museums, theaters, businesses (Huntís Potato Chip Factory, Lukemanís Florist) field trips to the police station, Camp Fire Girls Jamborees, cook-outs, swimming at Carolyn and Ziggyís pool....I remember to this day. You encourages us to complete our projects then, and all throughout our lives.
In 1960 we moved to Maine when Dad retired from the Navy. What a beautiful spot you and Dad found for us in Bowerbank. The lake could be seen then from the house, and the wildlife roaming out in the woods and past the front windows was plentiful. Do you remember the time you borrowed George Gloverís Willys Jeep and took us up to the Dow Farm to pick blueberries ? We ate more than we brought home and were bug-bitten, hot and sweaty, but still had a ball. How you knew to lock the Jeep in 4-wheel drive and shift your way in and out of the woods Iíll never know. But you were up for anything and afraid of nothing.

Granddaughter Kim was born in 1965 and grandson Dan in 1967. What a fuss you both made over them and they were brought up respecting the woods and the creatures in them, with many more of the same virtues you tried to instill in us - be patient, be tolerant, donít be wasteful, be honest, be clean, do well, and then some (If you canít say anything nice - donít say anything at all !)

By 1974 Dad passed away and you sure put on a brave front. You were left a widow with a house to maintain and bills to pay, You never complained. You never asked for help. You kept your loss and your grief to yourself. How did you manage to be so strong, MA ! You hinted that making it through the Depression had prepared you for rough times...but being alone so much...and still you moved forward.

You got work at the Sebec Post Office and the Sebec Station post Office filling in when others needed the time off. That was how you got to know so many folks and where they lived, where their camps were, where the wintered. You made friends everywhere you went.

While you werenít much on baking, you volunteered endless hours selling tickets to the Sebec Village Community Church Fairs and ham suppers. While your fingers just couldnít grasp knitting and your hands didnít masterfully fit together the small pieces of cloth for the handmade quilts, if anyone needed a hand up, you offered. Working behind the scenes was more your way; no recognition required. How many times did those hands cradle a stunned song bird on the ground after it had flung itself into the big front window ? How many Thanksgiving and Christmas meals did you prepare single-handedly ? for all of us ? By the way, Mum, "Whatís for supper ?"

When the boys came down from the Buttermilks cold and hungry on their 4-wheelers, hot coffee and sandwiches were always put together for the. When the Sheriffís Office Deputy would stop looking for a particular camp road or certain camp, you always managed to point them in the right direction. When folks were lost and turning around in your yard or looking to use the phone, you never refused. You were kind, MA, even when folks were not so kind to you.

For 28 years you held the post of registrar for voters for the Town of Bowerbank: for 25 of those years you were town treasurer, and for 24 of those years you were town clerk. From your many years as a military wife, it was not unusual for you to be up as early as 4:00A.M. doing bookwork for the town. You passed many a morning at your table by the window with your "coffee and a smoke" running figures longhand, no calculator involved. Your best correspondence and bookkeeping were one in the wee hours of the day. Many folks got handwritten notes from you that began with "Greetings from Balmy Bowerbank - itís 4:30 A.M. and the sun is up !"

You were so pleased with the great grandchildren...What an athlete Brad was, how much Cooper looks like Danny, donít Bonnie & Danny have a beautiful home, do you know Becky graduated from Fort Kent ? Sheís a teacher !...all their accomplishments made you smile.

In 1999 you rode on the back of a 4-wheeler with Becky for Bowerbank Days. In 2004 you held the position of Longest Bowerbank Resident and traveled Bowerbank "boulevard" in a sporty convertible roadster. You were "styliní" !

Over the years you had such a soft spot in your heart for stray animals, birds and family pets. Your last 3 cats were "Weird-O", "Mitty-Kitty" and "Yellow Kitty" and they all found warmth, security and love with you in Bowerbank. And how about: "Star", "Lady" "Scratch" and "Shadow" ? All great dog companions, but Shadow was your loyal protector, and her loss hit you hard. Your failing eyesight, diminished hearing and loss of good health slowed you down greatly, but losing Shadow seemed to hurt the most. It seemed as if the wheels were in motion, then, and your independence was shattered.

Thanks to Louisa, Eric and Rosa, you spent the summer of 2005 at home and happy. They cooked and cleaned for you so your dear summer friends like Eva Reynolds could visit you at the house where you had spent the last 45 years. Thanks to Scott and Kathie, you got to tour Sebec Lake in September 2005, from a "party boat". What a time !

In 2006, Becky and Kim got you on a jet-ski and took you for a ride on Sebec lake on a gorgeous July afternoon. Where did you get the strength, Ma ? Pure grit ?
The year 2007 brought more health issues and April 6, 2008, you turned 88 years old. By Friday, May 23, you were beginning to turn away. Karen knew before I did, that you had already pushed away from shore, while I was still saying goodbye. I hope your journey..... (across the silveríd lake, the moonlit ripples break...the path a magic highway seems..") was not too arduous to the garden. Perhaps while you rested there, the scent of the Lily-of-the-Valley all about, Beulah and Grammie Sadie got you caught up with the doinís in Sebec - and I bet Lucy D. had a quick story to tell !!!

Go ahead and walk through the salt water, if you wish, on the beaches with Dad - be it Nantasket, Buzzardís Bay, or the Florida Keys. And I bet George and Alice challenge you to a scrabble game at "Frenchmanís Flat" for the afternoon. Take a moment and put those good-looking legs of yours in the water and Dot and Owenís - itís been a long while. Youíve done all this hard work...worrying about all of us...now itís time for you to rest. While away the afternoon with that smoke and coffee on the front porch with Heather, as you watch the sun gently set. You both have earned it; you both deserve it.

Many thanks to Patti McGuire for the oft-sent kitten cards and bouquets delivered to Greta...they helped brighten her room. All the notes, cards and red roses from Will and Jennie Russick kept that line from Bowerbank to Greta open. She so enjoyed the news and we were grateful to read it to her.

We miss you now and we always will...as long as memory serves us. Every brilliant sunrise that catches our eye, the happy song of the chickadee, glorious arrays of colorful leaves in the Fall - will make us think of you. When lilacs come in bloom again, spilling fragrance in the air, weíll remember. You were a part of everything in us.

Someday we will meet with you again when our work is done, perhaps down at the lake. Danny will come with his cold beer and a fresh rainbow trout for you, Karen will have her salmon pie with egg sauce, Kim will bring a bottle of Grey Goose (Itís SO SMOOTH") and Becky will greet you with "Hi, Wild Woman!" And me - Iíll be at the fire pit keeping the smudge going to light the way.

The family would like to recognize the health care givers and professionals who kept Greta comfortable and pain-free for as long as possible. At this time, there are no scheduled services.

For years this poem hung by Gretaís front door. She read it often and lived it daily:

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain
- Emily Dickinson

Because of her love for all things furred and feathered, donations in Gretaís memory may be made to the preferred animal shelter or humane society of your choice. It would tickle her to no end to know that she had helped provide food, shelter and comfort to some of Godís defenseless creatures.

Weíll see you, Dad, and little John Jr., round the fire, Mum. (and thatís all I know....)


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