Aug 1st, 2005 @ 8:30 am | Author: By Ellen-Earle Chaffee
First, the news of the century: Lena and Thilda Vangstad, who turned 104 on Friday and are the oldest living twins in the world, are just as interested in others, funny, and thoughtful as ever. Larry Robinson, Anne Haugaard, Lillian Jacobson, and I visited The Twins at their home in Osakis last week. Lena uses a walker and Thilda is a little forgetful, but their sense of humor encompasses those limitations as well.

They wanted to know all about what's going on at the college and in the community. They are excited about our progress. As always, they look to the future. And I cannot resist telling this story.

We needed one more chair in the living room. Ever alert and hospitable, Thilda was in the next room carrying in a big wooden chair before anyone realized what she was up to. Then there was the usual 'after you, my dear Alphonse' dance about who would sit where. We all wanted Thilda to sit where she would be most comfortable.

'Where would you like to sit?' I asked.

Thilda looked at me without speaking and I wondered if I had spoken clearly enough.

'Where would YOU like to sit?' I asked again.

After another long pause, Thilda's eyes sparkled and she said, 'Down.'

It was a perfectly delightful 90 minutes, and the great company in the car made the travel time fly by.

On another matter, it has been awhile since I caught you up with the family. My mother is now in year six of ovarian cancer, five more than any of us thought she would have. She has an independent living apartment near my brothers in Chicago. Her second husband of nearly 10 years passed away in the spring, so she moved this summer. It looks like this will be a very positive place for her, although moving is difficult at any age, let alone 86. She drives, flies, sends lots of newsy emails, plays cards, and handles all her own affairs. These 'extra years' of great health except for the cancer have been such a miracle and a blessing for us all.

Our twin grandchildren, Frank and Lucy, spent three months in neonatal intensive care two years ago. Now they have caught up on nearly every physical and developmental measure. Their little brother Jack is six months old. We visit them and their parents in the Boston area every chance we get. I could go on and on and on about that family!

We just got back from a week out there. David finds all kinds of mechanical and heavy duty chores to keep him busy and help them out. He gave the kids rides on a backhoe last time, and this time on the newly repaired yard tractor. I run errands and play with the kids. Can you picture me in the sand box eating sand cookies and drinking sand coffee? Blowing bubbles? Warming a baby bottle? I have not forgotten how, but I certainly had forgotten how much fun it can be. I hope you are having lots of fun in your summer, too.