Yesterday, as we were waiting to schedule an appointment at the Dr., there were two elderly ladies speaking with the receptionist. One was frail looking, bent over holding a walker. The other was trying to find a nurse to answer a question. Having come back past us, the hale one said to us, "are you twins?" Smiling at them, I replied, "no, I have a twin, but this isn't she".
They were white haired, easily in their late 70's and I asked if they lived together. They smiled and said no, that they just take care of each other. I mentioned that my twin lived with me and that wasn't it a blessing to be so close. Holding the door open for her sister, the healthy one smiled a good bye. Seconds later, she popped her head back in and said to me, "It's a good thing". What a succinct summary of being a twin. Bless their hearts.
I find myself thinking of those two women. However they have lived, whatever their story, there they are, together, helping the other with love. It called for reflection.
I have been blessed beyond measure with two sisters I adore. But no one can question, I think, the special relationship that exists between identical twins. Very young, we were inseparable, dressed alike, spoke alike, looked alike. Every good and special time in my life was shared by my twin. Those few years we were not physically close we still always knew when something was wrong and phone calls would be made. An uneasy feeling I couldn't shake usually meant Elaine was not ok somehow.
Growing up, we often shared the same room, the same hobbies and the same clothes. Brownies, Girl Scouts, Drama Club, Concert Choir. Sometimes things were easy to do because we never had to do it alone. Like try out for plays and sing in the choir. We spent many a happy hour putting on our own musicals in the playroom at Twin Acres or re-staging The Sound of Music or West Side Story. We both read voraciously. Our little sister called us "bookends" once. In high school we used to get ready for school, come out in the hallway and realize we had dressed alike and fought over who had to change clothes. We still do it now, but we don't care anymore. Drives my niece nuts. :) More than once, if my children called home and I wasn't in, Elaine took my place on the phone and soothed them or said goodnight to them. They never knew it wasn't me.
Almost every childhood experience was a shared one. Very few were otherwise.
Strangely enough, if you ask us about our childhoods, Elaine has an utterly different perspective than mine. I call it the "raised by wolves theory". It baffles me. She had a completely different childhood and was raised by completely different people than I was. Never ceases to amaze me.
We have "twin" things that amuse us. Like switching dates when we were in high school. Like going to the grocery store together. Like speaking at warp speed and not finishing most of our sentences. We don't need to. Like laughing hysterically over shared thoughts communicated by a glance. Like when our husbands almost slip up and goose the wrong wife. You wouldn't understand, it's a twin thing.
We have been through some rough times in our lives both separately and together. It only made us closer.
She moved in with us almost 5 years ago. We never have arguments, we never fight, we pretty much always get along. I think the strongest feeling I would go with would be exasperation or frustration. Like when I borrow something from her kitchen and don't replace it I know it makes her bonkers. And it makes me bonkers when she will put greasy disgusting dishes on the counter and say, "leave them, I will do them later", when she knows I am utterly incapable of leaving dirty dishes on the counter.
I love having her here. I love sharing her life. And know that when we too are old and gray, that it will still be, "a good thing"
She has moved out now, 17 miles, 11 minutes away without traffic. She and her husband are very happy and I am happy for them too. It's a good thing. But I miss her.