Friday, July 2, 2010

Helen and Betty

My mom, Helen (on the right in photo), and her sister Betty were best friends.  They were twins born two years apart.  The last two of twelve children in a his-kids-her-kids-our-kids family, they were Grampa's favorites.

When they were young they helped in the logging camp where their mom cooked and their stern-looking, softhearted dad handled an ax and saw.  Among their many chores at home, they tended Grampa's strawberries.  On Saturdays they would work hard and fast so that they could do what they really loved to do -- play.

They rode their horse mile and miles without leaving home as they straddled a strong branch growing out of a tree in the front yard.  Thy were self-contained and happy together.  They loved sports, especially soccer, and even the boys were afraid of this fearless duo in their wooden shoes.  All through grade school they played on the same team.  Before the recess bell stopped ringing, there they were on the ball field, teaming up together.  The other side never stood a chance when Helen and Betty were playing.

As adults they played horseshoes and softball whenever they got the chance.  For her sixtieth birthday, Betty received a basketball hoop, the kind you see in cul de sacs outside the homes of teenage boys.  Well into her 70s she could still make 95 shots out of 100.

Mom had to miss her sister's wedding.  Auntie Bet and Uncle Paul were married on August 17 and she had asked Mom to be her matron of honor.  I was due the end of July but early on exercised my preference for being fashionably late.  My overdue mother had to witness the wedding from the church foyer, and then go to the hospital to deliver her baby on the 18th.

Between the two couples, eight children were born in nine years.  We lived 40 miles apart but grew up thinking we were one family with four parents.  Their last name was Cross, ours was Fosket; we called ourselves the Croskets.  Despite the distance, we spent innumerable Sunday afternoons together and as many summer days as we could.  We kids played baseball at the schoolyard near our home or explored the gully across from their house.  We often went camping, and for years we set up tents at Warm Beach Family Camp, creating a small homestead complete with a carpet over the ground between the tents, a food pantry and a centerpiece on the picnic table.  Long into the night the parents would play caroms as the fire died down and we kids fell asleep to the happy laughter of the grown-ups.

When Mom and Auntie Bet were winning at a table game against Dad and Uncle Paul, they were winning; when they weren't winning they said they were because they were actually playing give-away!  Always winners, these two, always finding some way through their difficulties.

Their love and friendship was a model for us in how to be family.  Their commitment to both work and play taught us to give ourselves to our work and incorporate plenty of time for recreation.  Their faith in Christ and living out of that faith led us to love Him too.  Thanks, you two, for being our moms.

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