Today two of my favorite women in the whole world celebrate their birthdays. My Momma and her twin have shared this day since the day the country doctor, Doctor Colvin came to my great grandmother’s home to help Ms Lillie in her childbirth efforts. I don’t know many details about that day except that they only expected to deliver one baby. My aunt was “Twin A”, next into the world was my Momma.They have shared most of their lives since that day. They are identical twins and are still devoted to each other.
My grandmother told me that they didn’t have a crib so the babies slept on pillows. The house was heated only by a wood burning stove. The house was drafty and they all depended on handmade quilts and that stove for warmth. MawMaw said my PawPaw nearly worked himself to death cutting wood to keep that house warm that winter. Dr Colvin estimated the babies weight at around 3 lbs. These days those babies would be in intensive care and certainly not allow to go home until they reached about 6 lbs. It is a wonder that they survived! My grandmother was always a “skinny” lady. I can only imagine how thin she must have been feeding her babies. She really didn’t like to eat that much anyway.
Since they lived with my widowed great-grandmother, Granny Parker, MawMaw did have some help. My great-grandmother had raised, and I think, adopted her sister’s son at his birth. I’m pretty sure he still lived at Granny’s at the time of their birth. I know that when he married, he moved his wife in as well. I don’t know about you, but that sounds a little tight. I’m guessing it was only a two bedroom home with no indoor plumbing, and probably no running water.Think about that. Water had to be brought in from a well. Have to go to the bathroom? Watch out for the chickens on the way! Middle of the night? Pull out the “slop jar”! What do you think laundry day was like? They pulled out the washboard, heated the water(after they hauled it from the well). Soap? Probably made it themselves. I think they only had a few sets of clothes each. Time for breakfast? Go milk the cows. Feel like eggs ? G-o see if the chickens will share. Oh, better, put the biscuits on first. As soon as the men folk left for work, plans for the mid day and evening meals began. The ladies would need to pick any vegetables from the garden. There was no car to run to the store, and no money any way. Keep in mind that dish washing followed the same water hauling and heating as laundry and bathing. Oh wait, I didn’t mention bathing. They pulled out the “washtub”. Once. A. Week. Everyone shared the same water. I’m guessing you wanted to be the first in!
About the time the twins were old enough to go to school, PawPaw decided it was time to move his family out to a place of their own. I don’t know if he built that house or just moved in. I have seen pictures of that house. Let’s just say it didn’t look like it would pass any energy efficiency tests today. By that time, the twins had gained 2 sisters. Sue is 2 years younger. Sandra is 5 years younger than them. Sybil joined them when the twins were about 12. When all was said and done, Ms Lillie had 5 girls. I have heard stories about scratchy “ouden” nightgowns. I don’t even know what that means. I guess it was their summer sleepwear because I know they wore flannel nightgowns when it turned cold. I have heard stories about starching the laundry. I think just about everything got sprinkled with starch, even my PawPaws underwear. Everything got ironed too, sheets and hankerchiefs included!
At some point, PawPaw decided his mother shouldn’t live alone. So he moved her in with them. In another tiny house. My grandmother lived with her mother in law most of her married life. Holy crap. Expectations were different back then. My Momma and her twin married their high school sweethearts right out of high school. They both had babies just about right away at a tender age of 19. I can’t even imagine that!
The twins eventually had two more children each. I will tell you that those two women spoke to their daughters frequently and fervently about education and independence. They instilled a sense of family that we cherish. They instilled a sense of loyalty. They taught us to go to church and to go visit our grandparents. We went to MawMaw and PawPaw’s house just about EVERY Sunday in my childhood. Now, that is loyalty! I’ll tell you right now these ladies have worked hard since their first breath in that little country home. I love them fiercely and am so grateful for everything they are. I apologize to each of them that they share this post. I’m guessing they are used to it. You see, they have shared so much!