I learned from you! You were the free spirit in this human life that was forever consistent in your beliefs,?you were and always will be that one and only true free spirit I’ll ever know and I am both so very sad and having delayed thoughts now surfacing about how you never ever stopped being there for others and I’m also angry your gone from here now, and I wonder how you are? Rock solid Betty Jo!
How lucky I was to have a cousin who was born the same month & year as me, and who always seemed like a sister. I have a treasure chest of memories and a mental photo album filled to the brim. We had so many parallel experiences growing up in Clintonville. We lived four streets away from one another.
When we were preschool age, we would be excited when we got to stay overnight at our grandmother’s house. We would draw pictures on each other's back with our finger and try to figure out what was in the picture to get to sleep. We thought it was great fun to use little tonged to get sugar cubes out of the silver sugar bowl on the tea cart. We would hide under the dining room table and eat the sugar cubes. We were great playmates. We played Ginny dolls, jump rope, hopscotch, softball and anything else we could think of-even jumped on pogo sticks together. We joined Bluebirds, Campfire Girls, and went to Camp Wyandot as partners. We hiked, rowed boats, went swimming, and sang camp songs together morning, noon and overnight, even around the campfire. We went ice skating at the casting pond at Whetstone Park. There were slumber parties that were so much fun with mutual friends from the neighborhood.
We played together at Sunday school at North Broadway United Methodist Church, sang in the children’s choir and attended the Methodist Youth Fellowship. We went to all of the same schools and shared a myriad of school memories.
I was one of her first guinea pigs for hair styling. She spent hours doing my hair when we were kids and it always ended up looking just perfect-and that was before beauty school.
I’ll never forget our joint “Sweet 16” birthday party. It was a sit-down dinner at Howard Johnson’s party house. We had a dance afterward. We shared all of the wonder, excitement, and angst of “young love.”
We graduated from Whetstone High School in 1966. We were grateful to each receive identical brand new cars from our grandmother as graduation presents. I will never forget taking delivery of our cars and driving out of the dealership together. We were bridesmaids in one another’s wedding and our oldest daughters were born the same year.
I truly believe that we were one another’s touchstone throughout our lives. Whether living close by or across the country, we maintained strong bonds of family and friendship. It is a rare thing to feel unconditional support and love for a lifetime. We were so much alike, but so different. I will always celebrate the richness of that difference.
Helen Keller said, “What we have once enjoyed deeply, we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” I will always be with Betty Jo and she will always be deep in my heart, completely irreplaceable.