One hundred years ago today, on March 8, 1914, my Mother was born.
Avis Louise was the first born of the six children of George P. and Stella (Libby) Foss. Growing up in Center Strafford, New Hampshire, Avis went to high school at Austin Cate Academy. She played cello in the school orchestra and center for the girl’s basketball team. Avis graduated from Austin Cate in 1932.
Avis had been accepted to next attend Plymouth (N.H.) State College where she hoped to major in Physical Education, but for some reason her parents could not afford the tuition and she had to turn down her acceptance. Instead, Avis attended the Exeter (N.H.) Hospital Training School for Nurses. Nursing students paid for their room, board and tuition by working shifts at Exeter Hospital between their classes and study hours. Somehow and somewhere along the way, she also learned to play the piano.
Avis graduated from the Exeter Hospital Training School in 1936. Not long after, she moved to Orlando, Florida, where she worked for about a year, living with her half-sister, Marion Brown and Marion’s husband, Harley. Eventually, Avis returned to Exeter, where she met my Father.
In May of 1941, Avis Louise Foss married Francis Matthew Sinclair. Because Avis was not a Roman Catholic (as Francis was), the small wedding ceremony was held in the living room of the priest’s house, next door to St. Michael’s Church, in Exeter.
Professionally, Avis loved being a nurse. She was justifiably proud to have passed the state board exams and earned the distinction of being a Registered Nurse. She was employed as an RN at Exeter Hospital for many years and was honored to be among the small group of nurses chosen to work in the hospital’s first Recovery Room.
Personally, Avis and Francis were trying to start a family. After much heartbreak and with thanks to one of the doctors that she worked with at Exeter Hospital who suggested that she get her thyroid checked, Avis finally became a mother in August of 1953.
Avis Louise Foss Sinclair was thirty-nine years old. I would be her only child.
My Mother really loved her family and being a mother.
From the earliest times that I can remember, my Mother supported and encouraged me in whatever I wanted to do. When, at the age of ten, I first expressed an interest in playing music, she gave me my first snare drum and cymbal and arranged for me to take drum lessons. When my seriousness in this endeavor was firmly established, she helped me in purchasing my first complete drum set.
When I was in high school, my Mother was quite pleased when I took up the guitar. I soon started writing my own songs and eventually doing some performing. As supportive as they both were, neither of my parents were quite sure what to say when I told them that this performing thing was what I wanted to study in college and eventually do for a living. But when I ultimately announced during my sophomore year at the University of New Hampshire that I had decided that I wanted to be a music teacher and do my singing, guitar playing, songwriting and performing “on the side,” both of my parents, though my Mother especially, were thrilled and quite relieved.
All throughout those years however, from seventh grade through college, my Mother frequently allowed me to turn her living room into a rehearsal space for whatever band or ensemble I was playing with at the time. The bass guitarist in my college trio (who is still a good friend and occasional bandmate) has many fond memories of the dinners my mother served up on the evenings we’d rehearse at the house on Newfields Road.
In the years ahead, my Mother found that she also loved being a mother-in-law. And then, when the time arrived, she absolutely reveled in being “Nana” to her granddaughter and grandson. My Mother gifted her grandchildren with many precious memories and experiences that they cherish to this day.
My Mother suffered a slow and tragic decline of her health over the last six years of her life. With a mere shadow remaining of the woman we all loved so much, Avis Louise Foss Sinclair passed away on Sunday, August 5, 2001. She was eighty-seven years old.
As my Mother would always say, “God love you!”
Happy 100th Birthday, Mom! You’d have been a great centenarian.