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Twin Smiles?

Maedelle Gailey Carlyle on left
Born September 25, 1921 - Died October 13, 2005
Vernelle Gailey Rowbury on right
Born September 25, 1921 - Died August 19, 1998

When asked to participate in the GeneaBloggers "Smile for the Camera!" Carnival by the footnoteMaven, I immediately thought of one of my favorite photos of my mother and aunt. They were twins and even though they were identical, there were little things about them that let you know exactly which twin you were talking to, or in this case, looking at.

Mother is on the right and Maedelle is the baby on the left. Although both are looking at the photographer, Mother seems to be enjoying the moment while Maedelle seems a little bit irritated with the entire process!

When the twins were born my grandparents must have thought they were being persecuted. The labor was hard and it came way too early. The doctor in town told them to make arrangements for their burial. “They will never live through the night,” he said. My aunt Maedelle weighed 2 pounds and Mother weighed only 2 ½ pounds. There was a midwife, an old grandmother whom everyone called Granny Simpson, who lived down the road from my grandparents. She said, “I’ll feed ‘em buttermilk and honey and they’ll be alright.”

With the help of my grandpa’s mother, she dressed the girls in tiny flannel gowns and fed them with a medicine dropper, holding them up over a steaming kettle of hot water in order to keep them warm. They slept in a shoebox, with one tiny head at each end.

I often contemplate the reasons for Mother’s physical, and I suppose you could say, psychological problems, and I am drawn back to that cold, cold day in September of 1921 when a country doctor didn’t know how to keep a premature infant alive but a mid-wife persevered. If the medical technology that we have today had been available they probably would have been able to delay their birth until their little bodies were ready.

Mother had a large malformation in the veins on the left side of her brain. Because of this she developed an aneurysm that occasionally bled and caused scar tissue to form. The doctors told me that they were amazed she was walking around at 70 years of age. They say she must have had this since birth.

Mother had social problems, mathematical reasoning problems, and a variety of other things to deal with, or not deal with. I think for the most part she did not agonize over her lack of thoughtfulness or grace. She just stumbled ahead; going through life oblivious to a lot of things.

But for the most part, she was happy. And she and Maedelle were as close as twins always are.


Sheri said…
I an envious of the way you were able to describe your mother's problems so tactfully. Me - I would have just let 'er rip! -

I need to practice being nice like the rest of the civilized world!

Sheri Fenley
Gerald Puckett said…
Hi Judy,
I wasn't aware that Vernelle and Maedelle were born prematurely.
I sure enjoyed the shoebox story. My youngest daughter, Mary Jane, can tell the same story, she was born at four and one half pounds. Dynamite comes in small packages!

Thanks Sheri! I'm sure you are as nice as can be. Maybe I tried too hard. (Grin)

Also, Gerald, thanks for reading my new post. Yes, your cousins were very tiny. Grandma - actually all of the family - used to tell the story of the shoebox and Granny Simpson a lot. Sure glad that's one story I listened to and remembered!
Carol said…
I have a similar story in my family that I wrote about on my blog. Essentially, my G-Grm gave birth to a little baby girl and kept her warm in a box in the woodstove oven. You truly do have a gift of words Judy. I felt like I was there.
Thanks so much, Carol. What a neat compliment!
tipper said…
What a neat post! Of course I can't look at the picture without thinking of my own girls. And I am thankful technology helped keep them from being born until they were healthy enough to make it on their own. I think this post is a lovely tribute to your Mother.
Thank you, Tipper. I've read a little about your girls (or at least knew you had twins) and actually thought of you when writing this post. Thanks for being a reader of my blog!
T.K. said…
How great that these two tiny babies both lived long, full lives. Your post was very interesting.
Thanks so much, T.K. Glad you enjoyed reading about our little Gailey twins!
Ruth said…
Hi Judy!
Thanks for visiting my Graveyard Rabbit site! And a special thanks for letting me know about the problem with the comments. I didn't realize the link didn't work. The template is something I got from "outside" of Blogger, and I guess maybe it wasn't totally up to "specs". I changed the template, so now everything works as it should. Thanks again for letting me know! Have a great day!
Thanks Ruth for repairing that link. You have a great blog and I enjoy visiting you there. Hope to see you often here as well. ;')
GrannyPam said…
Nice post, and nice to point out how they made it.
Thanks, Granny Pam. I appreciate your reading my post and leaving your comment. Their story was interesting and I hoped others would think so!

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