FOR THE LAST TEN YEARS my family and I have had the honor of living next door to the amazing Cockrill twins — Eloise Cockrill Rogers and Lois Cockrill Fisher — who celebrated their hundredth birthday this past weekend.
Each lives in her own house, cat-a-corner to the other, with our house the third point of the triangle. We see one or both of them almost every day, as they visit each other or go on errands. (And by “go on errands,” I mean they drive themselves.)
Nothing slows these women down. The fact that they’re identical twins only adds a dramatic flair to their vitality. A single awe-inspiring centenarian is impressive enough. But a pair of hundred-year-old twins? Almost inconceivable.
The Cockrill twins were born before women had the right to vote. They’ve now seen a woman nearly win the White House. They were born the same year the Model T Ford was introduced. They now see the waning of the fossil fuel era.
They were my youngest daughter’s age during World War One. It boggles the mind.
Born in 1908 in the middle Georgia town of Wadley, both women moved on to long and productive careers in the Savannah school district. Mrs. Rogers was a teacher at several local schools, including Massie — where she routinely taught 45 students in a single class — and Mrs. Fisher was a secretary doing important work outside of the classroom.
Now in their third decade of semi-retirement, they were the belles of the ball at a birthday party Saturday for about 200 guests at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church. On Sunday, their actual birthday, they were still going strong with various family events.
I told Mrs. Rogers I was getting worn out just watching them celebrate. She laughed and said she ran into a few of her old pupils at the party.
One had his report card from the sixth grade, in which Mrs. Rogers said his grades needed improvement, but his citizenship was very good. (She signed it again for him Saturday).
The former student told her he was considering retirement because he’s now 71.
“I told him, ‘so what?’” Mrs. Rogers said.
No one’s sure about the secret to their longevity. Their “adopted granddaughter,” Tiby, speculates that it’s partly because up until last month both twins routinely visited local nursing homes, helping those less healthy — and generally far younger — than them. Giving back to the community seems to have literally added years to their lives.
Our neighbor Porter and I agree that the twins’ longevity also must come from the way they live totally in the moment, not spending a lot of time revisiting the past — unless it’s happily.
But I’ll give the last word to Mrs. Fisher, who gave me this simple advice:
“Don’t just sit there and sit. Get up and do something.”