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Sister, sister

NATANGA SMITH, [email protected]

Sister, sister

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CRYSTAL AND RUTH HAYNES say growing up as twins was never a problem. They not only share the same similarities in terms of looks but they share the same passion for love of family and their career.

What makes them so striking is that both are in the medical field and they are more similar than different.

They like to laugh a lot. They also finish each other’s sentences. They answer at the same time to questions with the same answers. And did I mention that they laugh a lot?

“We are happy girls. There isn’t much that makes us feel sad. Once we are with family, and especially with each other, it is just laughter and jokes,” said Crystal.

Crystal is very protective of Ruth, who admits that is true. Crystal says Ruth is the favourite and is spoilt. Ruth disagrees.

“I am not spoilt. I am spoiled?,” she asked Crystal.

“When Ruth was working at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, mum used to pack lunch for her everyday,” she said over Ruth’s constant laughter.

“Mum packed lunch for you everyday. Yes or no?” Crystal turned to Ruth, asking.

After much hesitation Ruth answered, “Yes” and they both had a fit of giggles.

“I think it is because of when I was born and being sickly that my mum still worries over me,” Ruth explained.

“That is my story and I am sticking to it,” Ruth said, with more laughter.

As the story goes Crystal was born first at eight pounds. Ruth, at three pounds and an ounce, had to be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for a while.

“From what my mum said it was touch and go, very scary. But I made it,” Ruth said.

“She was a fighter,” interjected Crystal, who explained that they had fraternal twins on their dad’s side.

Ruth was home on a short trip since it was the weekend of Mother’s Day and she had to come home to celebrate with her mum.

Ruth is at Yale University School of medicine in Connecticut, in the United States, where she will be graduating from her programme next month.

Being away from family is hard, she related, and she comes home at least three times a year.

Growing up the girls said they have always lived harmoniously.

“I think we kind of built each other up,” said Crystal. “In a way we are a team (both said at same time).

Both girls attended Wesley Hall Primary and Harrison College (they were put in separate classes from the get go) and both did medicine at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, in Trinidad. The girls graduated in 2009 from UWI.

“We studied together. We encouraged other,” said Crystal.

Both girls always wanted to do medicine, but Crystal’s first profession of choice was to be Governor General of Barbados.

“She wanted to be like Dame Nita Barrow,” said Ruth, adding, “From the time like she was five years old, she was telling everyone who would listen,” she said, while Crystal burst out laughing at the long-distant memory.

Ruth said she also loved other things and she is very artistic, but when she got into high school and started doing the sciences, it carried naturally.

Plus they grew up in a house where there was a library, and chemistry sets and Charlie Brown Encyclopedias.

Crystal liked pediatrics at one point because she was told her personality would be great with kids.

“When I went through medical school and did clinical medicine it helped to clarify my decision a little bit more and I decided to do ophthalmology.”

Ruth was unsure of what she wanted to do and during her internship at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and during her surgery rotation she loved that aspect.

“I grew closer to internal medicine as I did two years in Accident & Emergency. I learnt and grew so much.”

Ruth was reluctant to talk about what was obviously a source of pride for Crystal. “She is at Yale now,” Crystal said in hushed tones while Ruth batted at her.

It was becoming more evident that Ruth was the more introspective of the two. She showered all the praise on her sister while Crystal did the same, but while Crystal received it smiling, Ruth looked a bit uncomfortable.

Ruth said Crystal was always the go-getter.

“She was the more sociable one. She was the one who was always going out. I was always inside with a book. I find that I am a nerd,” she said laughing.

Crystal, chuckling, agreed.

“I was the outgoing one. I like to hang out with my friends. I still do.”

Ruth reluctantly told EASY that she got into Yale by chance.

After she graduates she will become chief resident in the field of gastroenterology at Bridgeport Hospital.

“I applied. You have to do the US medical licence examinations, so I did those. My family was praying for me and believing in me. To be honest, I think it was a miracle that happened. And I am just thankful.”

Crystal wouldn’t let it go so easy. “She is a really really hard worker.  For the three years she has been in the US is the same time she left A&E, and people, who mistake me for her, would tell me ‘Oh you were so good to my daughter’ “I never forgot you’. I still hear these stories on a monthly basis.”

Ruth says she can see herself thriving and growing at Bridgeport.

“I really appreciate the opportunity to learn there. I do miss my family but I understand, and they understand, I am on a mission.”

When Ruth doesn’t visit the family goes up. Both sisters say they miss each other, as they are “besties”.

Ruth said she was reluctant to go at first and felt a bit of guilt in pursuing her dreams and wondering what about “mummy, daddy and grandma”.

“But I told her to go, I got them,” said Crystal, hugging Ruth. “I want her to fulfill her potential. But thank God for Facetime and Skype and Whatsapp calls that help us stay connected.”

Crystal said that Ruth has been an inspiration for her.

‘She actually makes me want to do better and be better.”

It was Ruth’s turns to spill the goods on which Crystal really is.

“She is very thoughtful, generous, attentive. I am going to tell them about the patient,” she said to Crystal.

“When we were in internship at QEH there was a 91-year-old blind patient who had never eaten grapes. Crystal bought the grapes and fed them to her and did that everyday until she was discharged. Six years later, every birthday she meets the lady, gives her a gift and they go church together for her birthday. She even gives her a gift every Christmas,” said Ruth, giving more glowing adjectives to describe the best sister anyone could ask for.

Speaking of church, that is a staple in the Haynes household.

Matriarch is Margaret and patriarch is Richard Haynes. The girls (are both 30 years old) have two older brothers – Michael and David – and the family goes to church every Sunday (mum teaches Sunday school for the elderly).

“We were raised with so much love. We didn’t have much but we had that. We didn’t get the trips to Disney World but we had trips to the beach and family trips around the island. We thrived on that.

“I can’t remember our parents ever telling us ‘oh you have to ace that exam’, ‘oh you have to do this’. We never felt that pressured. We were nurtured and cared for,” said Ruth.

The girls said they were considered goody-two shoes growing up.

“We never gave any trouble. We were very boring. We went from school to home and did our homework. We were in Brownies.” Sunday isn’t only for church, it is for a big family dinner.

“Daddy is the chef. He lays out a spread every single Sunday. There is always food at our house,” said Crystal, with Ruth adding, “every Sunday is Christmas at our house.”

Crystal is married to Corey Knight for the past four years and Ruth was her maid of honour.

Ruth says she approves of Corey and one day wants to get married and have her own family.

The girls said they are strong young females and that runs in the family.

They cite their grandmothers as examples.

Carmen Elaine Odle and Sybil Haynes were resilient and raised their children with what little they had. They taught their children the importance of a good education and that is what Margaret and Richard has instilled in them.

“We do not take anything for granted. A lot of our values come from our grandmothers down to us.”

Crystal and Ruth are girlie girls. They like make-up and dressing up. But they also have a sense of looking towards their future.

Crystal wants to run her own business in the next five years and she says she has her “hustle” all planned out.

“It is all about diversifying.”

Ruth in five years wants to build her practice and accomplish more academically and professionally.

“By the grace of God we will accomplish what we put our minds to. And in all of that we will have each other’s back,” said Ruth.

And Crystal wouldn’t have it any other way.