My brother Neal and I are the same age from Sept 14 to October 31. Let’s just say we are both Medicare eligible this year. The other day I introduced my brother to a co-worker and explained we were the same age for 6 weeks of the year. She said they call that Irish Twins. This was news to my brother and I, but I liked the name, it sounded endearing, and I wondered what the source of the name was. I was surprised to find out that the term was rather derogatory. “Irish twins” is actually an insult. The term was used to ridicule Irish immigrants who were low on the totem pole.
From the Urban Dictionary: Firstly, the term pokes fun at the stereotypical fertility of Irish Catholic families, which traditionally do not use birth control. In addition, it implies that the Irish lack the ability to plan ahead or control themselves, having children in quick succession rather than responsibly spacing them. Finally, it suggests that the Irish do not understand the medical definition of twins, which involves two children conceived and born together.
Not very flattering is it? We did come from a large Catholic family, but not Irish— actually from German and Bohemian stock. My parents most certainly did not use birth control as Neal and I are members of a crowd of 13 siblings. I would never call my parents irresponsible, just rather devout Catholics who followed the no birth control pill edict of the Catholic Church. Whatever the religious and cultural values of our rural farm neighbors, most comments that were made mentioned the “two in diapers” or “ that was quick”. I can’t speak for my brother, but I thought it was pretty cool to be the same age for part of each year. I still do.
There are a couple of photos of Neal and I: in a crib together or proudly standing together with a tractor tire as a background. I do remember a couple of episodes of giggling in church. We did get the giggles fairly often. Because of the cut off birthdays for assigning grades in school, we were in different grades. Neal’s “footprint” in school, especially high school was bigger than mine. He was popular and dated all the pretty girls and was into sports. He married his high school sweetheart who is the light of his life and a wonderful, much loved member of our family. My life wandered a bit but I found love too.
My brother visited for a few days last week and I still like him! In high school he yelled at me( under the influence?)as I came into the gym “Hey Sis!” and I gave him a small wave. I liked his attention. What I know for sure is that we have the luck of the Irish because we are Irish Twins. I am so lucky.