I woke very early on February 22, 1971 just four days shy of my sixth birthday. I lay awake in my twin bed in my own room on Maple Drive. I slept with my bedroom door open so I could look directly across the hall at my parents’ bedroom. I don’t know why I woke so early but I opened my eyes and my dad was pulling some clothes on, I thought perhaps he was going jogging which he did for a week or so back then. (Anyone who ever met my dad knows how funny the idea of him jogging is.) The lamp on my mother’s night stand was on and she was still in bed, sort of crying.
“Dad? What are you doing?” I asked.
“The babies are coming.”
Oh wow! Not many months previous, my father had taken the opportunity during dinner to draw on the chalkboard easel a general idea of a baby in my mom’s stomach. No explanation of how it got there or how it was getting out but a fairly good rendering of a baby in utero. Not long after that very educational dinner, the doctor took an x-ray of my mother’s pregnant tummy and Voyla! Two babies.
On February 22, 1971 my sisters Katie and Molly were born, just a couple of minutes apart. John was not happy. “If God was going to send two, he could have sent one boy.” Too bad for John but he and I each got our own baby. Katie was mine and Molly was his. We would taunt each other through our babies.
Life with twins was interesting. Katie was the mastermind and Molly was a good soldier. Toddler twins have incredible powers of destruction. They are happy to clean fireplaces all by themselves. Load up the toilet with whatever they can find, they don’t use toilet paper so why should anyone else? May as well flush it all. The twins had their Terrible Twos back in the day of floors that needed waxing and phones that were not portable. One day my mother was stuck on the phone in her bedroom talking to a good friend of my Dad’s who was very chatty. She couldn’t catch a break but could hear little girls laughing down the hall. When she finally got off the phone she ran down to the kitchen and the babies were “skating” on the newly waxed floor which they had coated in flour. Another favorite O’Connor story took place before the backyard was fenced. My parents built a chicken wire enclosure to keep the babies in in the backyard so they wouldn’t go anywhere and my mom could
put her feet up and watch soap operas for an hour wash the dishes while staring out the kitchen window to make sure the girls were okay. Katie had the great escape idea: Molly laid against the chicken wire till she was flat out on the ground and Katie crawled over her, helped her up and they were free! For like a minute.
The all time best twins story is this one.
It was summer time. I was eight years old. I’m guessing it was a Thursday because Thursday was mens day at Oswego Lake Country Club. My dad had come home from work at lunch time, grabbed a bite to eat, changed his clothes and was ready to head to the links.
My mother had just put the babies down for a nap.
“Can I just look in on them? I won’t wake them up.” asked my Dad.
“No! leave them alone, I finally got them to sleep!” answered my Mom.
My Dad goes into the twins’ bedroom at the end of the hall anyway. He thinks he has gotten away without her catching him but I see my mother roll her eyes. Quickly my Dad closes the bedroom door, waves goodbye and he is out the door. Done. Out. Gone.
Then we hear the laughing. My mother is annoyed. Dad woke up the babies. I follow her down the hall because they were really cute, when they weren’t bugging me. I am right behind my mother as she opens the door and the smell hit us. I still remember how horrified I was by the tsunami wave of dirty diaper smell. It was pervasive and overwhelming. It was summer. The drapes were closed, the room was dim, warm and in my memory, had a split pea yellow glow.
And there were the twins. Katie had swung herself out of her crib and over into Molly’s. They had removed their dirty diapers and proceeded to rub them all over everything, the crib, the walls, I remember the pale green textured cloth drapes in their room, the lining of those drapes never recovered. I backed away in horror. I can’t remember if my mother swore or cried…probably both.
Happy Birthday Girls! I hope 2013 holds many blessings for both of you.