It was quite unexpected, and yet my sister and I have talked about this moment when I was in my twenties. Why I would be shocked in this moment truth, has no rational explanation, it only was unexpected at this time of my life.
I’m retiring and have traveled around the world, and moved so many times my sister and I joke about bad-weather-desasters don’t have a chance of “catching up to me.” In our sixties, neither I, nor my sister live in the state we were born and raised in. The fact that I live more than 600 miles from my birth place and in a completely different state cannot explain how this situation happened.
As is my custom, on paydays (the 15th and 30th of each month) I celebrate by going grocery shopping. It’s a reward for working full time for 48 years and I allow myself to buy whatever I want—it’s a wide open opportunity with many things to select from. Sometimes, I experiment with new spices—like this past year I added smoked ———— to my spice cabinet, or even new type of foods. Other times, I stick to my favorites for comfort.
On this particular day I decided to check out the candy isle, for no other purpose than to see what new candy I could buy, or if I wanted my usual big bag of peanut M &M’s. As I was looking at all the selections of “big bar chocolate” my eye saw a big bar of “white chocolate bar.” “Perfect,” I thought, I’m allergic to chocolate, but maybe I can eat “white chocolate.” As I was reaching out to pick up the White Chocolate bar, a woman came up behind me and reached for the same bar.
My first reaction was to hate this other shopper who just had to look at what I was looking at. The reason I go grocery shopping at 7 a.m. is so I mostly have the shop to myself, without anyone wanting to have what I’m looking at—is that such a bad trait?
As I looked up at the woman, our eyes met, and I realized I was looking into my own eyes, in a face that was identical to my face, and by the look on “her” face she was as shocked and surprised as I was. We were looking at “ourselves,” our identical selves, as in “identical twins of ourselves.” The reality of my, and my sister’s speculations was standing there reaching for the same white chocolate candy bar.
What can one say to “one’s self” in that moment???? Never for a lack of words, I blurted out, “Well, HI! Finally the truth is revealed! May I ask who you are????” (Being polite seemed the best way to handle this—I was raised by my quaker grandmother to always act with decorum and politeness, regardless of the awkward situation, and let me tell you, our family gave us many, many awkward situations that let us practice this attribute).
“Who are YOU?!” was the woman’s response. Well, I’m Eilene Susan Wenner, and I always wondered if I had a twin somewhere. There was always something strange about my “fit” within my family. My sister convinced me I was adopted and proved it to me by pointing out how everyone – our cousins, my sister, my parents, uncles, aunts – had thick curly blond hair, with blue eyes. I, on the other hand, had brown, thin, straight with some curl, and shamrock green eyes. She had a point. I truly didn’t look like anybody in our families. Add to that mix, was the fact that only my quaker grandmother acknowledge me equal to my sister and cousins. The rest of the grandparent treated me as “not part of the family.”
Mom and Dad had told me about my birth story, countless of times. Dad was in the navy. Mom gave birth while he was away. I came sooner than expected. One time, in my twenties, I heard a person on the radio who sounded like me as she was speaking and singing. I called my sister and asked if there was a possibility that I had a twin, somewhere. The one thing I like about my sister is her ability to enter into any dialogue I chose to initiate without telling me I’m nuts.
The subject came up again, only last year, when our cousins decided to get their genetic testing done. We had always been schooled that we descended from Jacob Wenner, who immigrated to America in 1775 from Alsace Lorain, France and Edward Leister who came over on the Mayflower (you have to know we were always told not to be impressed by being descended from Edward—he apparently was a “bad seed of a person.”). When my cousins got their genetics back—France was never mentioned, though England did—Edward showed up, go figure). I remember telling my sister that I didn’t ever want to find out my genetics, it might show I really am “not part of the family.” Her response, God love her, was “You will always be my sister!” (Except now that she’s not talking to me because I bought my retirement house, which she moved into, and kicked me out because I dared to believe it was MY house—but that’s another story for another day).
But here was “me” standing holding the same candy bar I was reaching for. All my speculations came surfacing up in my mind. Either SHE had been adopted out, or I was. That was the only conclusion I came up with. Never one for lack of words I asked, “ So are you an opera singer, by chance? I think I heard you interviewed on the radio, one day decades ago.”
“Yes…, but why don’t you seem as shocked as I am that we look entirely like each other?” “Well…” I responded, I’ve been wrestling with discrepancies within my life that plague me from time to time. Have to admit that I even suspected my mother had an affair while my father was out to sea while he served in the navy, but both insisted my birth was normal, except for being early. What about you? How was your life?”
She admitted that she had a normal childhood, with siblings and loving parents—nothing questionable. I, didn’t really want to ask the question, but I had to know, “So…were you born on March 15th?” “How do you know that???” She barked at me. (I ask you, is it my fault that I put two plus two together and came up with “separated twins,” when she was in total denial that we were even related, somehow? I can’t even use my excuse for some people like “not too bright” is she, because she is, most likely, as bright and intelligent as I am, since we are identical—uggg maybe she got the dumb part of the genome—I like that explanation).
In my opinion we have a dilemma facing us—hahahaha—get it? dilemma FACING US?? Like two of the SAME FACE FACING US??? Sometimes I crack myself up with my humor—which my real-moving into MY retirement house-sister hated, by the way, OR so she told me).
I guess I have some things to sort out about having a sister, or two. Neither one is moving into my new retirement lake house—with the trap door next to the garden. I’ll keep you posted on how this turns out, perhaps in the future. At least we both like white chocolate—we have that in common, right?