Today is my twin brothers’ 45th birthday.
I think it’s safe to say that David and John were the greatest surprise of my parents’ life. Mom went into the hospital to have one baby. She came home with two.
She had no idea that she was carrying twins, although friends of hers tell me that she was as big as an aircraft carrier. Baby Boy A (David) arrived at 2:37am, weighing 6 pounds 10 ounces. Baby Boy B (John) arrived at 2:52am, topping off at 7 pounds 5 ounces. Imagine the shock in the delivery room. When my Dad heard the news over the speaker in the waiting room, he simply laughed.
We have all been laughing since July 28, 1975.
I once asked my mother what it was like to raise David and John. She said it was like trying to control lightning. It’s an apt description. Lightning is full of energy, strikes wherever it pleases, and can be destructive. But it can light up even the darkest night sky.
The Twins. David and John. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. They are, and always have been, inseparable. My mom had a repeat family in some ways. She is 13 months older than her identical twin brothers. I am 16 months older than mine. Supposedly identical twins are not genetic. Fiddlesticks. As George Strait sings, “I got some ocean front property in Arizona.”
When I was in 3rd grade, I was summoned over the school’s PA system to go talk with Sr. Elena. Sitting in the principal’s office, legs dangling from the chairs, were the twins, an unmistakable look of guilt across their faces. I had no idea what they had done but it wouldn’t take much imagination to come up with a couple scenarios. Sr. Elena briskly walked into the room, white veil fluttering behind her. She stood in front of us, rapidly tapping one of her sensible black sandals. Her eyes narrowed as she crossed her arms in front of the king-size crucifix dangling from her neck. She meant business.
Sister spoke to me, directly and slowly. “Tell me which one is David. And which one is John.”
Apparently, the twins had decided to switch classes since David didn’t really like math. I don’t recall what the punishment was for impersonating a sibling. But I remember thinking that Sr. Elena should be more concerned that the teachers didn’t notice the offending twins writing with different hands. That should have been the giveaway clue. The twins are mirror-imaged, David being right-sided and John being left-sided.
They were always the stars of the team, baseball being their sport of choice. They played baseball together though college. One fall, their university struggled to field a cross country team. Due to Title IX constraints, they were low on scholarship athletes. David and John were conscripted to race for several weeks to help field a full team.
Now, my brothers are great athletes and have uncanny hand/eye coordination. But running is what they do to take a baseball field. Or to grab dinner at Taco Bueno. The image of them in booty shorts competing against lithe, swift runners illustrates a story for the ages.
Inside those athletic bodies, they have such tender hearts. I was teaching an evening water fitness class in July 1996 when I noticed John walk into the pool area. He sat and watched my entire class, no doubt bemoaning the terrible Gloria Estefan music mix. I had a hunch something was wrong. After class he told me that our Gramps had died.
John was worried that I had heard and might be too upset to drive home. My parents’ home is about 1 mile from our YMCA. I think I would have made it. But how precious that John followed me all the way home just to be sure.
Just last week, as I drove to meet with Baby Ocho’s heart surgeon (a full report to be posted soon), David called. Knowing I was alone, he asked if I wanted some company. Or if I wanted him to tell stories to make me laugh. Although we live far apart, he was right there with me along for the drive. The boys have always been with me.
David and John are both incredible fathers, fantastic brothers, and the most loyal of friends. Not to mention fabulous additions to the company softball team or family kick ball squad. They are full of life and energy. Their antics will bend you double with laughter. It is simply impossible to lack for joy in their presence.
Happy birthday, boys!