September has seen many birthdays in my family this month, including that of my two sisters, Ursula and Lydia. Twins are very common in my family in that I have twin sisters, twin cousins, twin uncles, my grandfather was one of a twin and I, sadly, lost twins shortly before they were born. And, of course, contrary to popular belief, twins don’t always skip a generation. It has always been the youngest and oldest who have produced them – my father was the oldest son of my grandfather, the youngest son produced twins – my cousins. My grandfather had twin sons (my uncles Mick and Mike) and himself the oldest of his siblings. I was the youngest child of my father (produced twins) and if my brother had have children, we are certain he would have produced twins too.
My sisters break the family mould in that they are identical twins. My father always had difficulty in telling them apart, especially as he got older, often having to wait to see which their respective husbands or children arrived with them before he could be certain who was who. As they’ve grown older, they have changed slightly in size, hair styles and life’s ups and downs taking their toll but for two dears now in their sixties, they haven’t done so bad and whilst they may look less identical now, when they are asleep, it is awfully hard telling them apart.
As a child, being their younger sister was always difficult as they had little time for me, their sickly baby sister because they had each other for company. Cries of “Oh Mum, do we have to take her/look after her?” still reverberate in my head. The three of us had to share the same bedroom too as our house wasn’t large enough to each have our own room. I had their outgrown clothes – two of everything (which I hated), their discarded toys and whilst they had new bicycles one Christmas, I had to make do with a secondhand one. It was no wonder I was a jealous and that we always fought. But those days are long gone. Now we are adults we are very close indeed. The best of friends.
So, you might wonder, is it really true that identical twins think and feel the same as each other. Well, over the years there have been examples to qualify this and also to disprove. Ursula has two sons and two grandsons, Lydia two daughters and two granddaughters. Character-wise, my sisters are very different; Ursula is a tough cookie, very much the leader who doesn’t take fools gladly, has strong opinions and certainly isn’t shy to voice them. Lydia, conversely, is easy going and soft, a bit like me, and they often have very differing opinions on things.
It’s difficult with twins when buying cards and gifts as one doesn’t want to buy them the same thing, but many is the time I can find a card to suit one but then cannot find something equally suitable for the other. The same with gifts. And there’s another thing… It has happened on numerous occasions that I or others in my family have received identical birthday or Christmas cards from them despite their buying and choosing totally independently of the other. They have even been known to buy each other the same present. Likewise with clothes. I’ve known them go out shopping separately, to different towns, and then come home having each bought the same dress. And it’s happened on many occasions that at family gatherings, they’ve arrived wearing almost identical outfits.
I also know that if one telephones me for whatever reason, the other will be calling me within the next half-hour. It’s spooky sometimes, has caused a lot of mirth and fun (yes, they did used to swap places etc at school to trick the teachers) and I wouldn’t swop them for the all the world.