The cold drab morning that followed the long, bitterly cold dark night was hardly noticed by a worn and weary Gladys Presley. She’d labored long, unexpectedly giving birth to not just one son, but two. What should have been double joy proved itself to cause division of strong emotions. How do you reconcile delight over the healthy baby boy sleeping peacefully next to you while other loved just as fiercely forever sleeps silent in a cardboard box? Surely she was heartbroken and changed for the rest of her days. Joy and grief are not amicable companions.
Both good and bad, she was spared the worry over the twins until their actual birth, not that her youth and inexperience eased her concern over carrying the one. Living in a different age, I knew far in advance I was expecting multiples but it also robbed me from enjoying my pregnancy, adding extra stress and worry. Technology gave me some comfort reassuring me they were as healthy as could be determined in utero, and I was reasonably confident of their genders. There were no surprises like she had. She knew none of what was to come, only that she was happily carrying a baby to be born in the new year. Times were so different.
Research shows there is a complexity to the psyche of twinless twins. There is a bonding from conception, sharing a space and comfort. They become used to the heartbeats of their siblings. My own triplets are as different as can be and while I’ve always tried hard not to lump them together, giving them the individuality they deserve, there is a link they share that I can never understand. It’s said when one multiple is taken away, for whatever reason, there is an undeniable forever degree of loss. Elvis must have felt this. It must be hard to find a balance to respectfully keep the memory of one twin and still nurture the surviving twin effectively.
It’s been told Elvis spoke to Jesse, referred to him and felt his loss. How much was within his being and how much was placed there by Gladys and Vernon? I can’t say. Was each birthday to follow similar to the birth event? A joy and happiness for the here and now, mingled with the sorrow and loss over that that never was? Did January 8th remind him again he was the survivor?
So on this January 8th, 85 years since that both beautiful and awful day, we celebrate the Elvis we adore, but also we remember the brother we never knew. That loss helped define him, good, bad or indifferent. And for Gladys, who birthed two tiny infants that morning, the loss defined her as well. We recall her selfless love and protectiveness surrounding the one who survived, likely enhanced by the loss and fear she felt.
On this special day, we thank you Gladys and we fondly and respectfully remember you as well. January 8th was by far the biggest day in your life but possibly became the most difficult too. We wish a Happy Heavenly Birthday to both of your dearly loved sons.