« I Can See Clearly Now | Main | Landlady »

Wednesday, 07 September 2011


By Jackie Harrison

Unlike today, twins during my childhood in a small town in Georgia were rare. Our mother's doctor did not realize until the time of birth that she was carrying 14-1/2 pounds of two baby girls. My sister, eager to be first, decided to be born breach, blocking my way for 15 minutes.

I had a small, red-spotted birthmark on my back which my mother called a tonsil. During her pregnancy the doctor performed a tonsillectomy with her sitting upright in his office chair. She was convinced that my birthmark was the result of this ordeal.

Mother insisted on dressing us alike. We looked like twins in spite of my straight blonde hair and blue eyes and her curly brown hair and brown eyes. I wanted curly hair and she wanted straight hair.

My first curls came as a teenager with a Tony home permanent for my now darker hair. The big commercial at the time was, Which twin has the Tony? The boys loved to yell this out to us as we walked down the street.

When we were barely four years old, we sang a difficult duet on the stage of our local theater. Afterward, we had requests to sing everywhere. We continued singing through high school and even had our own weekly radio show. We opened and closed it in this Irish town with our theme song, When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.

I never experienced the trauma of cliques at school. We had each other. There were occasional little spats between us and sometimes my mischievous suggestions got us into trouble. But when my mother tried to find the guilty one, we both became closed-mouth. She would say, "I guess I will have to whip both of you to get the right one."

My sister was stricken with scarlet fever at a young age before the use of penicillin and streptomycin. The health officials marked our front door with a large black "X" to denote a quarantine. The only family member allowed to enter my sister's room was mother, who had to cover herself inside the room and sterilize her hands upon departure.

I gave my sister my favorite doll and watched with tears through the cracked door as she held it and looked longingly at me. Our prayers lifted her from death's bed. After her recovery, everything she touched had to be burned.

Mother believed if one of us had an accident or became ill, the other would soon follow. This was true most of the time. Using this reasoning, she admitted us together for tonsillectomies. My sister needed surgery but my tonsils were normal.

My sister recovered well but the ether they gave me caused cyanosis and dyspnea, forcing me to remain in the operating room for several hours. At home three days later, blood starting pouring from my nose and mouth. Though panicked by the blood soaked towels, my mother drove me to the hospital in the nick of time.

My sister's grades were not good like mine. A teacher said to her, "Why don't you get your sister to help you?" I saw the hurt on her face so I decided to make lower grades, but only as low as my ego would allow.

I never regretted lowering my grades but one incident still lingers with me, making me question the decision I made.

I was competing for the top history grade in my school. One student was slightly behind me. A few days before the contest was to end, my teacher called me aside and said, "Why don't you let Jason have this award? It will make your sister feel better."

I wanted the award that I had worked so hard to achieve but I gave it up. I never told my sister about lowering my grades or this incident.

When we were 16, we were coerced into performing together for our county beauty/talent contest. My sister won second place. One of her prizes was a 15 x 20, hand-painted photograph portrait. When the photo arrived, it was a picture of me with brown eyes.

People ask if we have mental telepathy with each other. We instinctively know when something is wrong with one another, she more than I. I will get a call from my sister saying such as, "Do you have a sore ankle?"

I say, “Yes, I have tendonitis," and she says, "I knew it because my ankle has been hurting."

She lives in Georgia and I live in Florida. I tell her she has become very bossy. When she tries to boss me at her house, I salute her and say, "Yes, General." She ignores me. We have always been this way.

Twins Harrison

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Jackie - Wonderful story.

Finally, in my mid-70's you have enlightened me on the reason for my poor grades in grammar school. I must have had an imaginary twin! - Sandy

I was married to a twin, fraternal, and only years later did I discover he and his brother were much closer than he and I could ever be, thus our divorce for I felt he listened to him, not me.

I can tell you are the one on the left, since I know you. Very good story, being a twin must hold both good and bad but always interesting. Love those socks and bows!!


It was very interesting to read what it is like to be a twin.

The picture is so cute and I just love your footwear...

The comments to this entry are closed.