Saturday, 20 February 2010

Sepia Saturday: Twins

My wife Mags, and I, have been blessed with identical twin granddaughters, but my grandmother, Hilda May Butler, and her brother, Wellington Aubrey (always known as Jim), were fraternal twins.

Here they are pictured in about 1926 in their early teens. Hilda was always keen to emphasise that she was the eldest… fifteen minutes! But with seniority, came responsibility. At school, Hilda was very protective of her brother, and that extended to taking the teaching staff to task. One day, when Jim was boxed about the ears by a teacher, Hilda flew for him and told him to leave her brother alone. She was called to the Headmaster’s room and asked to explain herself. The fact was, Jim had problems with his ears, and she feared that any blow might render him deaf. Hilda was excused punishment.

At some point during their childhood, they became separated temporarily. My great grandmother went to live on the Isle of Wight with Jim, and Hilda remained with her beloved granny, Jinny.

Throughout his adult life, Jim didn’t enjoy good health. But despite developing heart disease, he took up oil painting and dedicated most of his time to his passion, messing about on the river. He invested in his own boat and spent many happy years, cruising it up and down the Hamble River.

In the 60s, Jim and his wife, Terry, Hilda and my grandfather, took a river holiday on a cabin cruiser called 'Silver Sedge'. In this shot, Jim is at the helm and Hilda is far-right, doing a little sun-bathing.

Hilda also endured poor health in her lifetime. Anaemia in her early years, arthritis, hypertension and Polymyalgia rheumatica. This didn’t prevent her from working endless hours in her huge garden or taking a keen interest in diets and nutrition long before the big government-sponsored push towards ‘healthy eating’.

For years and years, Hilda, predicted that she would pass away aged 72. We used to tell her not to be so morbid, but she maintained a strong belief that her time would come at that age. Then, the oddest thing happened. It was Jim who died from a heart-attack……aged 72.

Hilda lived her life to the full until 2005. Then, tired and weary, she finally passed away aged 91.

More Sepia Saturday participants - HERE 

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges 


  1. Wonderful story Martin. I just love the way these little Sepia Saturday pieces of ours give such an insight into ordinary lives with nothing more than a few well-chosen words and a couple of well-scanned pictures.

  2. Sorry about that, Martin; I inadvertently called you Alan. (It's early.)

    I think I would have liked your grandmother,Hilda, Martin. I had a reputation for taking my teachers to task.

    However did they get those nicknames-going from Wellington Aubrey to "Jim"? My uncle Odran was always called, "Hugh".

    I love that boat-cruise picture. I'm thinking of Jerome K. Jerome now.


  3. To be a twin must be a very special thing.

    But to digress -- all these names have me wondering -- did you ever reveal what that T stands for?

  4. My mother admired her father and was convinced she would pass away at the same age he did, 64.

    To her surprise, that never happened and she is still alive at 90 (although in very poor health).

    I very much enjoyed this family story.

  5. I knew a few sets of twins at school, I was always intrigued by their closeness. Enjoyed reading this post. How uncanny that Jim died on the predicted date.

  6. It is so fun to hear these family stories and how the two twins related to one another. It was an enjoyable read, thanks for sharing.

  7. Hilda's prediction was uncanny....

    Lovely photo of the two of them

  8. Twins seem to share some kind of subconscious connection so often. I wonder if she knew intuitively of his death before she was notified.

  9. My Immediate impression of the earlier photo is what warm & open smiles they have.They look very comforable in each others company.You can tell the bond between them.

  10. Alan

    Thank you. Yes, I really look forward to reading the weekly contributions. So many stories and great photographs make Sepia Saturday the place to be.


    My grandmother was a formidable woman. As a child, my Mum dreaded the sound of a horse-drawn vehicle making its way up the hill past the house. If the driver was using the whip, grandmother used to give chase on her bicycle...with words of advice.


    We are constantly entertained by the twin's behaviour towards one another. It's really strange to see the things they do in unison.

    You were one of two people who got T right. It's, rather disappointingly, Trevor.


    Glad you enjoyed this post. It sounds as though your mother is very much like my grandmother.


    That prediction has always stayed with me. It's just a little spooky because they were twins. I'm left wondering if she did have some kind of sixth sense or something.


    On the surface, they often generated more heat than light. But underneath, I'm sure there was a strong, loving connection.

    Mama Zen

    Welcome to Square Sunshine. So glad you enjoyed the post.


    Yes, I'm very fond of that early photograph. They look so healthy and relaxed. Not a care in the world.

  11. What a wonderful story. I love how protective Hilda was of Jim...very sweet.

  12. Loved this post. The picture circa 1926 seems very clear and almost modern.

    You must be very young to be grandparents!

  13. Meri

    You are wondering the same thing as me.


    They were both very 'open' people, and would look you straight in the eye. And there was definitely a bond.


    I think Hilda always kept an eye on her brother. Probably easier to do when they were children though.

    Clever Pup

    Thank you for dropping by. This photograph has been cared for over the years, which may explain the clarity.

    My grandmother was 21 when my Mum was born. My Mum just short of her 20th birthday when I was born. After a day with three grandchildren who are 3 years old and under, we don't feel that young, but we wouldn't have it any other way. I'd highly recommend it.

  14. Twins, in my experience, are special people. It's inspiring to think that Hilda & Jim didn't allow poor health to keep from pursuing their interests & getting enjoyment from life. The boating picture is charming!

  15. Hilda and Jim look so much alike, even being fraternal. I loved hearing their story. Your family is full of twins, Martin!

  16. And so Hilda was that close to Jim as to feel and know of his death as if it was her own. She must have been heartbroken when she lost him... I can only imagine. That was a very heartwarming post, Martin, despite the death. We will all die, one day, after all.


  17. John

    Hilda and Jim were strong-willed individuals, as well as bonded twins. This seemed to give them the extra determination to live their lives to the full.

    I remember how they talked about the boating holiday for a long time afterwards.


    There are more twins going back along Hilda's line. There are also twins in my paternal great grandmother's line too. When our daughter became pregnant the second time, I had a strong feeling from the outset that it would be twins. Don't ask me, I just knew it.


    It's hard not to think that Hilda sensed something ominous for all those years leading to Jim's death. But death is a part of life isn't it? Who knows what levels of consciousness remain afterwards?

  18. For being in ill health all their lives, they sure lived a long time. Maybe I shouldn't say that since Jim only lived to 72 and I'm 70. My mother always said she wanted to live long enough to see the new century and she died in 2001.
    Such an interesting post. I'm really enjoying this Sepia Saturday- but I'm sure not getting anything done today !

  19. Agreeing with Barbara on this. And have there ever been any other twins noted? Curious...

    And I do like that boat :)

  20. I'm feeling rather good now about my mother's stated resolution to live to 103. :)

  21. Barbara

    Thanks for dropping by.

    I think the reason they lived as long as they did, was purely down to love of life and willpower. Your mother was probably out of the same mould.


    Yes, there have been other twins in our family. Most recent being our identical twin granddaughters, now 11 months old.


    My mother promises to be around a long time too. The older I get, the more I believe that a positive attitude and sound resolve, can load the dice in our favour.

  22. absolutely fascinating history and the pictures are beautiful too

  23. Thank you Rhonda. Glad you liked it.

  24. In the sixties my father built a boat of almost the same style. It was one his proudest accomplishments. That style boat must have been "in vogue" back then. I enjoyed your post. Thanks

  25. Ralph

    Thank for dropping by and leaving a kind comment.

    I'm guessing your father was a boat-builder by profession, or was a passion in his spare time?

  26. thoroughly enjoyable - hilda was a wonderful 'older' sister.

    re her psychic abilities they were there, just a bit askew

    (am a bit late making my ss rounds! before I know it, i'll be even more behind)


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