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Twin power: The Williams twins

GERCINE CARTER, [email protected]

Twin power: The Williams twins

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TWIN SISTERS Harriette and Heather Williams do not look like their twin brother and sister Antoine and Antoinette.

But in the company of these four, you get more than a sense of the similarities between the two sets of Williams twins. Laughter and playful banter are the common denominator that creates the bond between identical twins Harriette and Heather Williams and fraternal twins Antoine and Antoinette Williams.

Born five years apart, they are now in their 50s and the four do not let up on ribbing each other. Antoine says it is all part of their “sense of togetherness” and growing up in a family environment in which they found friendship within their own household. “We enjoy liming together. That’s one thing we always do – the laughing together and enjoying each other,” Antoine told EASY magazine on Whit Monday as they all gathered for the interview.

Antoine, the male in the foursome said: “Of course we argue. They feel they can beat me too, but I don’t take them on.”

Antoinette and Antoine were the first set of the twins born to Monica and George Williams. Though she knew her grandfather had also fathered twins, Monica was nonetheless surprised to learn she was pregnant with the second set of twins, five years after she had given birth to the first set which had already increased her family to four, with an older son Edward (recently deceased) and daughter Beverly.

The four have built strong bonds, Antoine, laughing, told EASY: “There were four of us before Harriette and Heather came along. For me I was comfortable with the four, and then these two come along and I always used to ask who are these two little things . . . . I saw them as ‘playtoys’. It took me a while to personally get adjusted to these two new babies.”

He also had to get used to the controlling antics of his twin sister who was the first to be born, and as Antoinette sat with a wry smile, Antoine said, “She always felt that she was the boss, up to this day. She thinks she is my mother, actually.”

Harriette and Heather concurred. Antoinette quietly defended her assertiveness even as one of her sisters claimed she was their parents’ “favourite”.

Harriette said teasingly that when they were children, people who would see the four of them together always identified Antoinette as “the great” one. “She was always very special,” was how Harriette put it.

Antoinette reacted with the kind of flair that hinted at her diva style: “I am just me,” she said. Unlike Antoine (known in local dramatic circles as Brother Daddy) she is no comedian.

Rather, one gets the impression that this teacher is a lot more serious in approach than her siblings. However, when the time comes for sharing the fun for which the four are known, they all agree she has no reservations about being out front. People who have attended the private shows staged at the Williams home agree.

Antoine’s childhood ambition was also to be a teacher. “One of the similarities when we were growing up was we would always have the school set up in the backyard and we took on the role of teacher.”

But while she went on to realise her dream, he chose a different role.

“I have always been the mischievous one of the family and I was always more outgoing. Antoinette was quiet,” he said.

All the while giving attention to their older twin siblings talking about the relationship between them, Harriette and Heather eventually began to talk about themselves and their own experiences.

They are considered identical twins, though there are defining features that make it possible to identify them apart. This is why Heather is not at all pleased when she is called Harriette, the firstborn of the two.

“One of the things I don’t like about being a twin is people mistaking me for Harriette,” she said. “I don’t answer, or I may say ‘you have the wrong person. I am not Harriette.’ I feel we don’t really look alike.”

And Harriette joined in with, “I am the loud mouth. She is quieter.”

For the interview they are both wearing black pants with differently-styled sleeveless tops. You will not see these two dressed alike as they used to be in childhood, although as adults they have the same taste in dress and often choose the same styles in clothing. “But we don’t wear them at the same time,” Harriette pointed out.

This is one area in which the proverbial twin syndrome is evident. Another is the simultaneous expression of their thoughts. Harriette explained: “Sometimes I would be thinking something and she will come to me and say, ‘but Harriette I was thinking so and so’.”

This prompted Antoinette to reveal the experience of her personal ordeal when Antoine underwent surgery for gallstones. She told of being at school and “having the pains” while her twin brother was under the knife. “I did not say anything, but I was just having this funny feeling in my stomach all the time. I remember feeling very weak and wanting to vomit at the same time he was having the surgery.”

Antoine reacted in disbelief as his twin sister admitted it was indeed the first time she had ever shared the uncanny experience with anyone. It was then he said he appreciated even more, his sister’s ever protective “mother hen” approach to him.

They all laughed when gesturing to her twin sister who is the mother of Teri, junior calypsonian known as Sparkle T and a son Rio. Heather joked, “Well, she brought two children and I did not feel any pains.”

Antoine, like Antoinette and Heather, has no children. Married for 19 years, he broke what the four had hitherto considered an impenetrable link between them. “I really did not want it to happen, because I figured now he is married, so he is nowhere as close to me,” Antoinette said about Antoine’s decision to take a wife, a decision which at the time she feared would result in a major separation between them.

But she soon grew to accept and love her sister-in-law and the continued presence of the married Antoine at the family home is still a big feature of their lives, especially when the Williams children get together for fun times. What’s more, every morning at 6 when the phone at Antoine’s home rings, he answers, knowing it is sure to be Antoinette on the other end of the line.

The daily communication between the twins is a fundamental part of their life. “We may fight and quarrel but at the end of the day we are communicating again,” Heather said.

Antoine summed up the bond they continue to share in these words: “The greatest joy of having two sets of twins in this family is the dependency on each other. Even though there are similarities there are differences. But at the end of the day, we just love being together as a family.”