An Open Letter To My Twin Sister
The egg split and two little miracles spent nine months in very close quarters feeling the love of their mother. I was one of those little miracles and you were the other. Our 4 ½ year old big brother was not that happy about this. When asked if he was going to thank the doctor, he said “My mama will thank you”.
We were very blessed to be born into a beautiful, warm, loving family. We looked so much alike that our dad would have fun putting the same one back in the high chair to be fed, just to hear our mom say, “Something is wrong Jim, this child won’t eat.” Our mom told us when we got older that anyone who says two aren’t more trouble than one is crazy. You feed one, then you feed the other, you change one, then you have to change the other, etc., etc., etc.
We started singing and dancing at a very early age and continued all through school. We won the talent show at Gulfport High and at Ole Miss.
I remember one High School prom when we were sitting at the same table and decided to go to the restroom. When we came back to the table, we sat in each other’s chair so we could dance with each other’s date. We switched back a little while later. Your date told you on the way home that he didn’t know if you were the same one he came with, but he sure had a good time. Mine never suspected anything. I also remember one of us getting a call at our dorm in college and being asked to a dance and when the guy was told we already had a date, him saying, “In that case, may I talk to your sister?” We were both upset about that because we wanted to be individuals and not just the True Twins.
In our early twenties, I received a phone call saying I needed to come right away, that you were very sick. My heart sank. I had never considered that I might lose you. When I got to New Orleans, they had tried to put you in an iron lung, but you were too short for it, so they borrowed a Byrd respirator from NASA for you and had done a tracheotomy. You were paralyzed from the neck down including your vocal cords and for the first time ever, I couldn’t communicate with you.
When you became unconscious for the third time, the doctors told us if you survived you would have heart or brain damage. I went to the Chapel to pray. I remember kneeling down when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up and an elderly little man handed me a novena to St Teresa and he said, “This will help”. I looked at the novena and when I turned to thank him, no one was there. I said the novena every hour, day and night.
While this was taking place, you were having a “near death experience.” You told me later, that you learned two valuable things…how precious life is and where we go after we die. I know it was tempting to stay, but you came back to us without heart or brain damage. You were written up in all the medical journals, and our family was blessed with a true miracle! I moved into your home in order to take care of your beautiful little Julie, who was 22 months and my three little ones while you were hospitalized for 75 days. She was so adorable, but had a hard time adjusting to her life changes and was into everything. One day she poured detergent into the hot dryer, of course it melted. So while I was cleaning it, I put her in time out for two minutes on her bed. When I walked back in the room, she was sitting in the middle of her bed with Kleenex all around her. She had pulled them out, one by one, it had snowed Kleenex. I grabbed her and hugged her and we rolled around the bed in laughter!
I remember when she was three years old and you were visiting, I was standing by the sink and felt a little tug on my jeans. Looking down at her, I heard her say, “Are you my mama or are you my aunt Tone, Tone?” She just couldn’t tell. I also remember labor pains, not only for our own babies but for each other’s too.
We have had some wonderful times and of course, some fusses, but they didn’t last long…we just couldn’t stay mad at each other. We’ve also had losses…our husbands six months apart and our Jill (who I felt was mine too) and Ray’s Mel, but we were there for each other.
And so my Pati, I give you this writing because you are so special and we are not just sisters…we are twins… and I believe that twins have double the love for each other!
Toni True-Wills, Ph.D.