Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Another Loss In a Year of Loss

Yesterday morning, very very early, my great aunt Mathilde took leave of this earthly plane at the age of 102. She had been in failing health for a while, but was still able to celebrate her birthday with family on November 24. Mathilde was my grandmother Rose's identical twin. In her late 80s or early 90s, my grandmother had the misfortune of somehow triggering the breast cancer gene we carry, and succumbed in 2007 at the age of 98.

The girls were born on November 24, 1908 into the Charles Fouquet family. In the picture above, they are shown with their older sister, Helena. Like all good stories, their birth story contains some mystery. You see, the family has always been told that Grandma (Rose) was the second twin to arrive. In fact, Grandma herself writes:
I was the middle child in a family of five children all born in Andale, Kansas. My twin sister, who preceded me by only three minutes, was named Mathilde Theresa. The doctor, who arrived just a few minutes too late to deliver Mathilde, insisted we should be named Kate and Duplicate, as we were so identical. Fortunately for me, my parents had the good sense not to be influenced by the well-meaning doctor, or I might have gone through life with the nickname “Dupe.” 
It is documented in several places that Mathilde was first (including the Grandma Remembers book that my Grandmother completed for me). However, there is the little matter of the birth certificate, which indicates that Rosalia Bernardine Fouquet was the first of the twins born that day. Now, this makes for some interesting possibilities: 

  1. The family has heard it wrong all these years and Rose was first
  2. The birth certificate is wrong and Rose was really second
  3. (The most provocative possibility) Rose was really Mathilde and Mathilde was really Rose.

The Charles Fouquet Family (1919)
 For a good part of their lives, whether it was Rose or Mathilde was irrelevant because they were inseparable. They wore the same clothes, went to the same schools, shared the same friends, and shared the same bed.  They truly were wombmates, and even addressed letters to each other in that fashion: Dear Wombmate.They dressed alike well into senior adulthood; sometimes on purpose, many times purely coincidentally.

The Roaring Twenties
80th Birthday (1988)
Pentagon Tour 1992

For the past several years, since Rose died, Mathilde has often spoken of her as if she was only out of the room. She has insisted that Rose is living right across the street and she spoke of disagreements she believes they've had. My cousin and her family have kept close watch and have been wonderful about keeping our huge extended family informed. On Christmas day, Aunt Mathilde commented that she'd had a pretty good life and that she thought she would be leaving soon.

August 2002
She departed sometime after midnight on Tuesday morning for that great reunion. God bless you, Aunt Mathilde, and may you rest in peace.


Arla said...

A beautiful and touching tribute to the twins!
Thank you, Sharon! ♥

Emily said...

I love this story! :) Looking forward to the longer version sometime. Say, aren't we due for another set of twins soon???

Sharon G. Frizzell said...

Emily, I'm looking forward to writing the longer version! Both Grandma and Aunt Mathilde lived such full and interesting lives and they and their siblings were the matriarchs of a glorious group of people that continue to take the family in new directions of discovery and exploration. You are a part of all of that! And yes, we are WAY overdue in the twin department. And YOU get the double whammy of identical twins on the Frizzell side, too. Grandpa Tedrick, your father's grandfather, was also an identical twin. His twin brother died in action in Europe during WWI. I'd start planning on buying two of everything now! LOL!