BUXTON – It was a wish that would not get fulfilled: to see her daughter give birth to twins.

Gayle Marie Page died Sunday after a brief struggle with cancer, about a month before her daughter’s due date.

Mrs. Page, who lived in Buxton for more than 30 years, was 63.

“We thought she could make it,” said her daughter, Heather Cabading of Limington, whose due date is April 21. “My mother fought (the cancer) really hard and well for quite a while.”

Cabading said that having her mother there for the birth of the twins — their names will be Abigayle and Elijah — would have been fitting, given Mrs. Page’s long history of teaching and mentoring young children.

Born in Westbrook, Mrs. Page grew up in Buxton and graduated in 1964 from Bonny Eagle High School.

After graduation, she worked for a short time as a stockbroker in Boston. When she returned to Maine, she worked as a secretary at S.D. Warren in Westbrook and at an office supply store in Gorham.

Her love of children led her to teach Sunday school at churches in Gorham and Buxton. During those years she organized children’s Christmas pageants and created living Nativity scenes.

Her daughter said Mrs. Page went so far as to make costumes for the children’s pageants.

“She just loved children. They would flock to her like a pied piper,” said her brother, Herb Short of Cumberland.

Short said his sister had a knack for bringing people, especially children, together.

When Mrs. Page’s children were growing up, Short said, she would invite children who needed a place to stay into her home. The kids might stay for a couple of nights on makeshift beds laid out on the living room floor. They raided Mrs. Page’s refrigerator, and they never forgot her kindness.

About two weeks ago, Mrs. Page’s son, Troy Haskell of Lovell, rounded up about 20 former house guests for a reunion at Mrs. Page’s home in Buxton. She was delighted to see them.

“It’s amazing. Troy kept in touch with all those kids,” Short said. “They were all grown up. They said they treasured their moments with Gayle. They still call her Mom.”

Cabading said her mother’s most remarkable achievement may have been her decision to pursue a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education. She returned to college at age 58 and graduated from the University of Southern Maine in 2008.

Cabading said her mother fit right in with her fellow students, despite the age differences.

“She was a typical college student, studying hard and pulling all-nighters,” her daughter said.

After graduation, Mrs. Page taught briefly in the Head Start program at Portland’s Sagamore Village and at the Congin Elementary School in Westbrook.

“She was already a surrogate mother and teacher to so many children. If she had lived longer, she would have been one of the best teachers ever,” Cabading said.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]