Monday, August 10, 2009

When Their World Was Made of Water

When their world was made of water, my mother and my aunt floated together in my grandmother's body. Identical twin girls, that not even their father could tell apart. When they were youngsters and took turns meeting him with a snack on his long walk back from his factory job, he'd greet them by calling out, "Hello, Twin. Which one are you?" My mother concedes that maybe he was just teasing.
After they graduated from the 8th grade, the culmination of their education, they had a chance for a brighter economic future when a relative invited them to leave rural Iowa for Baltimore. When they pooled enough dough to get one ticket, my aunt headed east and once in the big city earned money faster than my mother could in Iowa and sent it back home to contribute to her sister's ticket.
They worked as "photo girls," with Polaroids slung around their necks, and hat check girls at night clubs with names like the Chanitclere and the Band Box. They saw Guy Lombardo, Jimmy Dorsey, and all the big names. Sometimes one twin would take a few days off and the other would cover her shifts. There was a cop on the beat who could tell them apart. If he pretended to swing his night stick at them, my aunt would flinch.
My mother and my aunt have lived together for almost thirty years.
I doubt they will leave this world together.
I wish I could change that.


Elizabeth said...

Oh, Denise.

jules said...

Lovely image. My last Uncle died on Friday. Funeral on Weds. We are saying good bye to that generation one-by-one. Too young to be the older generation, yet here it is: our turn.

Elizabeth said...

I'm rereading this and hoping that things are going all right. It's so beautiful and I'm sure you're in no position to do so right now, but the writing, the writing...