I knew it was coming for years, well before she ever announced her intention to return to school. I had thought most recently that her fame as a blues artist would take her away.
How could this day not come? If there is nothing else that everybody close to her knows, it’s that Polly doesn’t gather moss.
If you are a regular reader, you know this, too. Her columns were full of musical tours throughout the U.S., U.S.O. tours to Africa, philanthropic trips to Nicaragua.
Polly took trip after trip throughout her 10 year tenure here, never once relinquishing the paper to another person. She had as much technology as she could possibly use on every trip she took. She would cuss the lack of signal when driving across remote regions of the U.S. She would hunt, and then hunker down in some hokey bar or diner once she found the faintest of signals in order to transmit and receive what the Monitor’s next edition needed.
Sometimes Polly would tell me she was feeling a little cranky because she couldn’t sleep. The question in my head was always, “Did you try lying down?”
What was less obvious about Polly’s busy life was her sponsorship of those in alcohol/drug recovery; her mentorship of high school students aspiring to be writers and so much more. In the years I have known her, without a doubt, she has inspired me to be a more tolerant and giving human being. She exudes goodness.
And now Polly embarks again on an adventure. After she comes back from the Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method maiden American voyage, she’s going to follow another dream, that of earning a doctorate in Communications.
Polly knows better than most that dreams seldom fall into one’s lap, so she’s reaching onward and upward again. Everything she touches isn’t golden; she’s just constantly mining. Amazing, amazing woman. I am, as always, very excited to see what comes next in Polly’s life.
I’m not worried about the Monitor. It will continue to be nurtured well, as it has been for 115 years. Every person who worked in the Monitor office when I was hired is now gone. I’m okay with that. Everything changes.
I know that Polly hasn’t completely left my life. She’s my friend; we’ll be in touch, even if she never writes another story for the Monitor (she does plan to contribute from time to time, thank goodness. In fact, she left us one for this issue).
But I will miss the joy that was brought into the office every day that Polly was here – the colorful stories of blues tours from Eastern Washington to East Africa; the bursts of song coming from her office; the passion when she spoke of the stories she wrote, whether it be about a new business or a terminally ill child.
At the time of this writing, the Monitor is without an editor. Between me, reporter/Godsend Chris Hendrickson and managing editor Stephen Miller, we’ve got you covered. Bear with us; as soon as we know who is taking the helm, we’ll let you know. It’s a minor hiccup, and I’m sure not the first in the Monitor’s long, long history. We are fortunate that Polly left some pretty powerful footsteps for us to follow, or we might get lost.
Polly left the Monroe Monitor a far better paper than it was before. She wrote our history well. The Valley was so lucky to have Polly for as long as we did. And I, for one, can’t begin to express how grateful I am for what she’s taught me, how grateful I am for her friendship, and how much I will miss her.