Back in the days when age was important, my younger sister (I have never been inclined to refer to her as my little sister) was quick to correct me whenever I said we were a year apart. “Eleven-and-a-half months,” she’d say while thrusting out her lower jaw and standing a little taller. “Yes, eleven-and-a-half months,” I’d cede. I simply had to give her rightful ownership to those two weeks qualifying us as Irish Twins.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with what it means to be Irish Twins, it’s when siblings are born into a family in less than a year’s time. It’s not essential that the offspring be of Irish descent, however, where we came from in Irish-Catholicville, it was a fairly common occurrence. Unlike biological twins born minutes or hours apart, the nearest in age Irish Twins can be is about nine months and the far end of that scale is, well, about eleven-and-a-half months.
My sister and I share common genes as well as stories about jeans. I often refer to the times when she stole my favorite blue jeans and used a stapler to hem them to an acceptable length for her shorter legs. Having experienced the same life, at least for the first seventeen years, we regularly call each other to help fill in the blank spaces of our memories. We both still think it was our own pinkie finger that was smashed inside the door of the tow-truck on the day our mother’s car broke down. And the most traumatic experience I had in nursery school was the day my sister spilled soap bubbles on her arm and was sent home.
We have always been able to feel one another’s pains and humiliations, as well as each other’s triumphs and joys. Whenever something important happens in my life, it’s almost like it isn’t true until I get to share it with my Irish Twin. That’s why each day I send her an email entitled, “Today’s Blog.”
We’re thinking about writing a book together about leading parallel lives and how two people who are incredibly similar can choose very divergent paths. My sister is currently a divorced mother of three boys (including a pair of Identical-Irish Twins) and lives in the rainy Pacific Northwest. I’m in the arid Southwest, the married mother of two girls. Sometimes while watching them play together, I squint my eyes and imagine them as my sister and myself experiencing childhood together, and it is my strongest wish that this pair of sisters will grow up and have the same level of love and respect that I share with my Irish Twin, my sweet sister, Gayle.
Happy birthday, kiddo.