217. Dee-Dee de Niece and Den-Den de Nephew

On April 11, forty-seven years ago, my sister Joan was not having a very good day.

At the time, Joan was so big with child that her little daughter Chris (12 years old at the time) was certain she was going to become the sister of triplets.  The doctor, on the other hand, wasn’t even convinced that it was twins. But what did he know?

One time during the pregnancy,  Joan’s 4th child – Rene’ – became sick and had to go to the doctor.  Chris said she was totally mortified when her mother tried to go through a revolving door carrying Rene’ and got stuck!  It doesn’t do a lot for a kid’s sense of security to have a mother who gets stuck in revolving doors. I don’t suppose it would have helped had she known that before she was born, the circumference of her mother’s waist was only 21 inches.

April 11th rolled around.  It was a Saturday.  Joan went into labor so she and husband Tommy headed for Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids.

Joan got prepped in the labor room.  The doctor was still expecting a single birth.

A couple of nurses were off duty but they were so amazed by Joan’s size that they hung around to see what was going to happen.

Joan thinks she must have been in labor for about 4 hours when Denise Marie Fitzpatrick was born.  She weighed 7 pounds 11 ounces. The doctor was very pleased and was congratulating himself on the nice delivery of such a beautiful and healthy baby girl.

Just as he was starting his mop-up procedures, Joan went into labor again.  Aha!  the doctor cleverly deduced: “There must be another baby in there.”

There certainly was.  It was my nephew Dennis Arlan Fitzpatrick. I need to explain something to you about him. Dennis tried being normal once but he didn’t like it. He prefers finding a more novel way to get things done.

His darling sister managed to make her way into the world head-first like any civilized baby would do.  But not Dennis.  No, indeed.  To make his grand entrance, Dennis wanted to come out sideways, or failing that, feet-first, backwards, upside-down, or butt-first.  Any way but head-first.

We will probably never know the full details of the negotiations that went on between Dennis and the doctor, because at that point, my sister proceeded to hemorrhage, had to be anesthetized and was unconscious for three days.  She had to have three transfusions. The doctor told her later, that she died on the table . . . leaving the wee Dennis and the doctor to fend for themselves.  After the suspense and gore finally subsided, the little fighter finally made his appearance, weighing in at 5 pounds 12 ounces.

No, it wasn’t the best day my sister (or Dennis) ever had, but all’s well that ends well, and Joan came out a big winner.  Two of the cutest, most affectionate, smartest, drop-dead gorgeous babies that ever graced Mercy Hospital’s newborn nursery.

I wish I had better photos to show you of this picture-perfect pair.  I’m going to throw myself on Chris’s or Denise’s mercy and see if they can give me some to add to this blob.

When Tommy brought Joan and the twins home from the hospital, the household was to contain a 12 year-old, an 8 year-old, and 4 pre-schoolers including 3 in diapers.  Joan doesn’t know what she would have done without the little heroine who rose to the occasion – the 12-year-old Chris  who served as a “little mother”  to the brood.

Chris had prepared herself for the multitudes!  When her daddy called home to tell her that the twins had been born, she couldn’t believe there were only two – not three.

The following is a description of some of the “little mother’s” help as told in her own inimitable style:

“Because of the vast difference in our ages (12 years), the twins have often said they don’t remember me as Chris Fitzpatrick at all but only as Chris Milner.

Washing diapers was a ‘joy’!  Lug the million pound diaper pail downstairs, open the washer, put in detergent – TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND HOLD IT!!!!  Remove the lid from pail, as fast as possible move those nasty things into the washer, and slam the door!! – RUN to the other room and release that breath, take a couple cleansing breaths, now go back and start the washer, but be warned that smell lingered!

“Folding laundry was just as much fun! No need to hold your breath but be prepared to sit and fold, and fold, and fold, and fold, and fold, and fold, and fold, and fold, and fold… and that was just the diapers!

As they got older, I liked taking them for a walk in the stroller, but we lived at the base of a punishing hill, and on top of a murderous one so we didn’t go far. Solid foods were comical – look away for a minute and they’d both have hats made from their bowls and Gerber oatmeal running down their faces – after a meal the kitchen required a professional cleaning service, which was often me!”

Denise, the “elder” of the pair was born biggest, but Dennis caught up and gained several inches on her. Here they are pictured with Rene’. Somehow, they grew up and now they have little people, too.












Here’s Denise with husband Craig Fortune, son Tommy, and daughter Josie. Denise home-schools daughter Josie and she and Craig try to keep up with Tommy who’s 18 now. Denise also works as an independent contractor for the Department of Vocation Rehabilitation for Wisconsin State, and Craig markets and wrangles computers in hospitals.


And here’s Dennis with his wife Teresa and daughter Hannah.  He works with the Quaker Oats Company and Teresa is a pharmacist.

I’m really sorry Dennis didn’t have twins so he could pull off one of his goof-ball pranks like this one suggested by the comedian Steven Wright:

“When I have a kid, I want to put him in one of those strollers for twins, then run around the mall looking frantic”.

Denise and Dennis have one family member who shares their birth year of 1964.  He’s their cousin-in-law John Dudas husband of Leanne (Gorman). John works for a think tank in Washington D.C.

We have three other sets of matched pairs in the family.  Here are my granddaughters Natalie and Joy Opsvig  – children of Teresa (Ford) and Eric.

And my great-niece and great-nephew Gigi and Jack Dudas  – children of Leanne (Gorman) and John.

And the newest set are Rene’ & Dan Melchior’s little three-year old dollies, Ba Lee Therese and Jo Lee Anne.

You can’t be around Denise or Dennis and not end up laughing – they’re just plain fun to be around, so to close this blob I wanted to find a joke about twins.


This is one about triplets but it will have to do:

Triplets from China: Fu, Bu and Chu emigrated to the USA from China.  They decided to become American citizens, and “Americanize” their  names.

Bu, called himself “Buck.”
Chu called himself “Chuck.”
Fu decided to return to China.

Have a HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Dee-Dee de niece and Den-Den de nephew!

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3 Responses to 217. Dee-Dee de Niece and Den-Den de Nephew

  1. Rene' Melchior says:

    First… Dennis really didn’t have enough room to get into position. He tried his best.
    Second …. you missed a pair of twins… mine. They are three.
    I remember KiKi very well, she was always around, and I loved seeing all her friends around. I’m sure she didn’t enjoy seeing me there with all of her friends. Ha, but she never said anything to me.

  2. Octo-woman says:

    Oopsie, how could I forget those little cuties. Just added them. Also added a photo and note about the intrepid John Dudas (Leanne’s husband) who shares his birth year with Denise and Dennis and who is also the father of twins Gigi and Jack !

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