Thursday, March 22, 2007


I have a twin. Not a twin of my mother's body nor with my father's DNA, but a twin by adoption. Although we don't quite match like this pair of beautiful dolls.

You see my twin was born in Macao and she's Chinese and she's very tiny and I'm quite a bit taller. Oh, and Caucasian too, and born in Australia.

I met her in the Thursday Walking Group, about nine years ago and we became friends apart from the group. So we go out to lunch now and then and sometimes go to Chinatown to check out things Chinese and have Dim Sum and generally we like being in each other's company.

A few years ago we discovered that our birthdays were on the same day, November 8th. We always said we should go for lunch to celebrate our birthday, but somehow we never did. I always assumed she was younger than I, because her husband was not retired and mine had been retired for some years. Chinese people don't really show their age, so no clue there.

In 2005, I told everyone I was officially a "little old lady" since I was turning 70.

She said: "Me, too."

I said: " What, you can't be 70, your husband is still working."

She said: "He's 7 years younger than me."

My friend, an immigrant like me, came to Canada to do a doctorate in Chemistry at a university in Montreal. She had a very hard time with English which she had learned in university in Hong Kong, but not from native speakers. She was the only female in her lab of French Canadians who taught her swear words in French, although she didn't know it until her professor told her and then proceeded to berate the culprits.

She had a lovely singing voice and was operatically trained and her accompanist was a young French Canadian pharmacologist whom she later married. Unfortunately, she never finished her doctorate, but built a family with him, finally settling here in Vancouver, many years ago. They both still have a great love of opera and before the opening night of every opera of the season here, they have a group of 30 people to dinner and her husband gives a talk about the opera. He has become famous for his talks and now gives them to other groups.

So we definitely had to go to lunch together to celebrate our seventieth birthday and we did. She tells everyone we are twins and thinks it's a wonderful joke. Whenever we see each other she says: "Here's my twin." Her English is still terrible, despite the fact that she has lived with an English speaker all these years, although he has learned some Chinese. She says that as she is getting older she is forgetting words and it's true. Conversations with her are like playing Twenty Questions, with me filling in the blanks as she stumbles, trying to find a word. I ask her how she is going to communicate with her husband if it gets worse. She says,"I tell him, learn more Chinese."

The really funny part is that she's not entirely sure that November 8th is her birthday. She knows what the date is in the Chinese calendar, but when she started school in Macao she had to give a Western birth date, so her older sister told her to say November 8th, but she says it could be a day either side of that.

Still she's the twin of my heart. I love her dearly and I hope we can celebrate many more birthdays together.


ipanema said...

It's really nice if we find someone we can relate with. It's just sad she wasn't able to master English. It's a plus for the husband who can speak Chinese. Anyway, whatever language we speak, it's the friendship that counts.

Lovely post! :)

Winchester whisperer said...

Could you tell me how to do a blog roll please?!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

A lovely post, jmb and your "twin" sounds a charming lady. What fun you must have together! It just goes to show that you don't have to be blood relatives to feel that you are part of someone's family. I love the photo, too.

Lee said...

That's a great story, jmb...what a wonderful friendship you two have forged by the sounds of it. I, too, am a Scorpio...11th is my date...Armistice Day.

jmb said...

Hi ipanema,
It's nice to make a friend later in life too, this is not usually easy.
It's not that her English is so bad, except for forgetting words, which are usually ones that she finds hard to pronounce. And she has a very heavy accent still. She's an extremely intelligent woman so I guess she just doesn't have the gift of language learning.
A good friend, I'm grateful.

jmb said...

Winchester Whisperer, welcome to my blog.
I enrolled with Once you get an identity, add a blogroll button( it's called oneclick blogrolling) to your taskbar so that you can add a blog to the list at which you slowly build up. Or you can add the blogs at the site, just cutting and pasting in the URLS or even just typing them in. Then you ask for your code, hit on the get code line, and copy this, and then in the add an element to your page to your template under the java/html section you paste this code. After a few minutes only (as I recall) all your blogroll will appear on your sidebar. Afterwards you can still add blogs when you are at other sites with the oneclick blogrolling button.
If you follow the directions you will have no trouble. Build the blogroll on first and then put it up. E-mail me, if this is not clear.

jmb said...

Thanks, we do have fun. She has a lovely sense of humour.

jmb said...

Hi Lee,
I'm glad you enjoyed the story. A good fun loving friend. Another Scorpio, hey, no one should ever forget your birthday. My husband is also a Scorpio, but funnily enough we couldn't be more different.

Winchester whisperer said...

Thank you so much for those instructions. I may well e-mail you if it doesn't work (just to warn you!)

Colin Campbell said...

Great story JMB. You two share my daughters birthday (or the other way around). She was born about sixty years after you.