August 09, 2017
Twinning

Growing up a twin at Hi Little One

I love being a twin. My sister, Christine (Christy) and I could not be more different, but we share the same fierce loyalty to each other, no matter if we like each other at any given moment.

We were born during a snow storm on December 29th, our beautiful, gentle mother, Helen, delivered us shortly before and then after midnight. (Our doctor edited out birth certificates, so that we shared the same birthday.) He actually didn’t know my mother was carrying twins, so after he delivered the first baby, he left to attend to another patient. After about 45 minutes, our sweet mother alerted the nurse that something didn’t feel quite right. The doctor returned and baby number two was born.

In all the confusion the first born baby (colicky and needy) and the second born (chubby and content) birth order was accidentally switched. A mere hour difference may not seem like a lot, but our sibling roles were cemented. I was the oldest sibling and Christy was my baby sister. We found out the truth some thirty-one years later when we stumbled upon the record of our birth. (FYI- our roles didn’t change with this new information.)

Being a twin

As the older twin, I took care of Christy, my "baby" sister. She was (and still is) book smart, while I had (still have) the street smarts. When Mom and Dad went out, I was given the job of taking care of Christy. They would give me the car keys, money and told me I was in charge. I cooked, cleaned and cared for her, while she ate and played. I was by no means Cinderella, it was normal to us and I didn’t feel the least bit taken advantage of.

We are very different people, but identical is so many ways. We are both strong women, who took our own paths, married incredibly wonderful men, suffered their loss, and have each lived, and continue to live, wonderful lives. I was blessed with eight wonderful children and Christy was blessed with a wonderful career. She is my children’s second mom (like Auntie Mame). The beauty of being different is what we have and continue to learn from each other. We have the same taste in music, décor, and a LOVE of shoes. While I am practical, literal and feisty, Christine is creative, artistic and feisty.

Twins on Hi Little One

I asked Christy her thoughts on being a twin and the following is the unedited letter of her response.

 To My Twin,

When people say they are having twins I always tell them how lucky they are and how fortunate I feel to have been born a twin. Now I know you may not have always felt so fortunate to have me in your life.

Although we were born just 45 minutes apart (not even on the same day really) it is amazing how those 45 minutes defined our personalities growing up. I was the silly one… you took responsibility. I was indulged…you took care of me. Do you see it like that? ANYWAY Whether we remember the same name for our first pet or whether we remember the same name of the street where we were born, one thing can’t be denied. We have been in each other’s lives always. We have always had company…always had the unflagging support of another person and that is an incredible gift. No matter what, we have never been alone. We both have experienced this very painfully with the passing of Jim and Pete. Then with my recent illness, you have been there for me in a way no other person could be. You can tell me the truth and I accept it because we REALLY know each other. I hope you feel the same.

I think being twins made both of us bolder…more confident. We always had someone close and I remember that no matter how mad I would be at you (for some ridiculous thing) if anyone ever said anything about you I would defend you to the end…remember when I got hit in the head by a rock and you hit the kid who threw the rock with our metal stove? When you had Molly I was coming home from Europe and I knew when you went into labor…I told Noreen…Colleen is having the baby and you were. I remember calling you one time when I was depressed and you answered the phone crying. How about when I was getting ready to go away to college and you and I would sit up and cry because I was leaving and putting myself in a prison (or so we thought). I remember being at school and the most difficult part to get used to was not seeing you…very difficult for me. When we got older you and I would always have one big fight during every holiday trip. When Mom got sick and Dad too we put this to rest…I think we both realized that there was more to life than fighting with each other especially when neither one of us was going to change. Then as your children got older you always included Pete and I in family holidays…partly to show the kids that there are alternative lifestyles that can make you happy and partly because, as you always said, we were the only people who would go.

Colleen Ryan and Christine Ralphs growing up twins

We were also lucky because Mom and Dad made a conscious effort to try not to compare us. Thankfully they did this because we were always so different. I have often thought that being identical twins would have been very very hard indeed. Hard to have your own persona.

Mom used to tell the story about you and I discovering each other for the first time when our hands brushed each other’s in our crib. How happy Mom would be today to see us having dinner with Rajiv, shopping for shoes, and planning a trip to see Dan this fall. How lucky and how sweet that after all these years we still like to hang out together…it’s direct, it’s easy, no agenda…we know and accept and love each other…maybe that’s the biggest gift of being a twin. 

I love you,

Your twin

Just a thought…what is the difference between a twin and a normal sister relationship? It must be the fact that you are exposed to the same things and each other BEFORE you’re born…what a bond.

And now you see why Christine is so great. Just a few facts, Christy is going thru a health issue—she will beat this, it is in her nature. For me to access her records, I needed a few passwords. She said “easy, you know all the answers”. I did know all the answers, the problem she is she did not. I was amazed that she didn’t know our first pet’s name or the street we grew up on! 

Mom and AC on Hi Little One

N.B: I did not hit the boy who threw that rock, with the toy metal stove. I hit him—a good one—with my fist. He told his mom, she told the nuns, and I was asked to stay home for a day from school.

Bullet Points

  • Love and respect are at the heart of being a family; no matter Twin or Not
  • If one twin is chubby and the other lean, do not dress them the same. What is cute on lean is NOT cute or comfortable on chubby.
  • If being a "Weather Girl" was your childhood dream and password – you need to remember or share it. (Impossible to guess that one)
  • No matter how you are connected with another person enjoy it, relish the time you have together.
Colleen Ryan