The twins at five
Well, the Gold Dust Twins have made it to five. The drinks are on me.
Patricia and Sarah Brooks Gaylord, our gifts from an absolute higher power, will be five years old in early February. Their ability to charm, inspire, fluster and frustrate increases geometrically with each passing year. I have decided, on my own, to live long enough to see them as young women. I must replace sugar and nicotine with more healthy chemicals and, already in my late 60’s, the time to start my new regimen was probably about 40 years ago.
With only one child of my own, I knew very little about birthing babies when the twins arrived, only a month premature. I remember seeing them for the first time in a crowded nursery in an Asheville hospital. When I walked in the room, I overheard a nurse, say, “Well, we won’t have any problem identifying the grandfather.” My heart soared and sank at the same time, thankful for the family resemblance but hopeful that they did not have the protruding ears and the fly away hair of their maternal pater.
As twins, they are identical and they are fascinating to watch. I notice when we take them to church or a shopping mall, people will stop and take notice. In the opinion of everyone in our family, they are achingly beautiful, with flashing eyes and luxurious, long hair that only occasionally gets in the way. I was having that conversation recently with my beloved Patricia, commenting how pretty she is. “No Pop,” she said. “I don’t like pretty. I am awesome.” Point taken.
While their physical similarities are striking, their personalities are very different. Patricia is the more mechanical of the two. She cuts and prunes endless pieces of paper and draws incessantly. Her favorite position is on the floor, pencil, pen or crayon in hand drawing some abstract work of art for her grandmother.
Our kitchen is filling rapidly with her art work and her favorite subject of the moment is the Eifel Tower. On a trip to Paris last spring, we purchased two models of that Parisian icon for the girls. I believe Patricia sees the tower in everything more than 50 feet high, including utility poles and water tanks. Patricia is infinitely patient but I have compared her occasional mood swings to a sudden, turbulent summer storm. When her eyes flash and her perpetual smile turns upside down, it really is time for her doting grandfather to leave her alone.
Sarah Brooks, the oldest by one hour, has a bemused, world-weary view on occasion. I believe sometimes she is five going on 30. She is a little less emotional than her sister and I think she looks at the world with a slightly cynical eye.
I agree with her mother that Sarah Brooks is so smart and processes information so quickly that her confidence belies her years. Once, when her grandparents were on an extended trip, Sarah Brooks told her mother, “You know Gram and Pop have been away from the village for a long time.” I was probably in my 20’s before I could even write a sentence so profound.
Despite my fascination with their diversity and development, they are still little girls, only five years old. They attend a pre-school in Spartanburg where they are loved and tutored. They can count to 20 in Spanish and they take dance classes and have piano lessons.
Last spring, their father signed them up for T-ball at the local YMCA and I did not miss a game. The batting helmets were too big, the bats too heavy and Patricia had a tendency to run to third base rather than first, but they stuck it out. They got trophies at the end of the season that are proudly displayed on the dresser in their room.
The most gratifying and heart-warming thing to me is their kindness and humanity to each other. If one twin is away or out of the room, the other will immediately begin searching for her sibling. They do argue on occasion, but the tiff is never very long or serious.
I have stayed in one place for an hour and watched with fascination and pride as they talk to each other. I am sure that relationship will only strengthen as they grow older. After all, if you have the same DNA, you also have a ready-made best friend who will be there for a life-time.
I retired in the spring of 2016 from a job that I loved. Friends and family expressed concerns that a period of inactivity would be difficult for me after a career filled with challenges and hard-work. I have tried to fill my days with a little golf, a little writing and some volunteer work.
But my three grandchildren (including our grandson Paul) have made all the difference in that transition. In a world gone mad, they provide stability and a real reason to get up in the morning.
Happy Birthday, my lovelies. Long may you run.
(Ernie Segars is a former associate editor of The Chronicle and retired as the Laurens County Administrator.)