Happy Birthday “Twin”

I woke up this morning and thought that it’s not really just All About Me today. How could I ever think like that? How could I forget?

My father had twin sisters, my mother had twin brothers, and I was born under the sign of Gemini the Twins. My second sibling was not born until I was four years old, yet I always felt I had a twin sister.

Biologically speaking, Gail was not my twin since she was born two years after me and was the daughter of my other mother—Aunt Marian—Mom’s sister and my godmother. For her first three birthdays, we celebrated together.

I looked at my baby book since I admit that those birthdays are lost in my memory bank, so I needed my mother’s words to beam me back to that time.

On my third birthday, Gail and I celebrated together—her first and my third. She was not very happy and had to be taken for a walk. I guess that enabled me to be queen of the party instead of one of the two princesses.

Gail and I celebrated my 4th birthday at my house. All my cousins attended. There were fifteen of us by then. I wanted a swimming party, but it was too chilly, so we had cake and ice cream and played Bingo for nickels.

I celebrated my 5th with Gail at her house. We had all our cousins and Gail’s neighbors—the DeVite’s, Terry Lanza, and the Onorati children. I received swimsuits and money.

Then I went off to kindergarten, and like any sophisticated big sister, I threw Gail aside and celebrated my 6th birthday with my new friends. Sorry, Gail!

I have no pictures of us alone together, just this one from a party—our last? Cheers to you, Gail. Happy Birthday.

Cousin birthday celebration- 1959-ish?

Birthday with my “twin”

Twins

Twins were not unusual in our family. Both of my grandmothers had twins. Grandpa’s oldest sisters were twins as were Grandma’s youngest brothers. Grandma’s great Uncle Jim had twin boys, and her great Aunt Johanna had three set of twins. (Oy and Ouch!) As a Gemini, I was convinced history would repeat itself with me, but fortunately that did not happen. At one time, prior to having any children, I thought it would be fun. After the birth of one, I saw the light.

When my Grandma’s mother was expecting her boys—Uncle Bob and Uncle Don—their birth was a secret. Back in those days, I guess you just didn’t talk about those kind of things with your children. In fact, my grandmother did not prepare Grandma for growing up, so when she got her period, she was convinced she was dying.

Aunt Marian did not learn she had two more brothers until a neighbor informed her. Apparently it was very touch and go after they were born, and my grandmother almost died. She went into kidney failure and was given the last rites by a priest named Father William Palazzo. At the time, Aunt Marian did not know that she would one day marry the nephew of that priest.

Having twins during the Depression years was very difficult for my grandparents. They were very poor but too proud to accept money from anyone. Her friend Mae, who married a very successful businessman, gave my grandmother the gift of home delivery of milk, which was a present she could not refuse.

My twin uncles led parallel lives. They both were married in 1956, just seven weeks apart. They each had two boys and one girl born during the same years—1957, 1960, and 1963. Both Uncle Bob and Uncle Don even worked for the same company.

They did everything together, including having heart attacks at the same time. Uncle Don went first, going to St. Clare’s in Denville before being transferred to a hospital in Newark.  Uncle Bob awoke with chest pains after visiting his brother in Denville, and when he was admitted, some of the nurses believed Uncle Don had returned. Talk about being close!

My research has found no other twins in the family for sixty years, when the great-great granddaughter of Grandma’s Uncle Jim Carey gave birth to twin girls in 2006. Fraternal twins, which is what Grandpa’s sisters and Grandma’s brothers were, is a genetic trait, which is more likely to occur in women in their early thirties. So although it has not happened very often, I am just warning you all of this.

Uncle Don and Uncle Bob

Uncle Don and Uncle Bob