I’ts well known that most of my life I’ve been a public speaker. What isn’t well known is that I struggled with stuttering and speech issues that were so severe that I stopped speaking for a number of years and Cindy spoke for me as children.
Our entire lives have been spent being compared to one another by others. Twins and multiples are often dissected by people seeking differences for one reason or another.
Twins have been every other generation in our families as far back as anyone can find. I often wonder if other generations of twins were as alike and as different as my twin and I but the answer will never be known.
Cindy and I are Compensating Personality Twins. We look alike but our personalities are remarkably different. Cindy is hilarious while I am very serious.
Throughout my childhoods, speech therapists would scratch their heads as to why identical twins didn’t have identical personalities or even health issues.
Cindy had hernia surgery at a very young age and as a child, I struggled with recurrent bouts of strep throat, thyroid issues, precocious puberty and speech.
Later in life, thyroid cancer and issues with endometriosis along with a lump in my breast had me in and out of surgeries for 10 years while Cindy miraculously suffered none of the complications that I had.
Rather than mirroring my health liabilities, Cindy became the other half that made me whole by often caring for me when I was ill or speaking for me when I was unable to speak for myself.
We had no mother and would become the mothers we had never known. My sister and I have looked out for each other all of our lives. We’ve also helped raise one another’s children and Cindy’s three grandchildren together.
Our husbands don’t interfere with our relationship and accept that “it’s a twin thing” to speak to each other 15 times a day or text and when not doing either, be together working.
I once had a Dr who followed our ups and downs tell me that we were the Five Percentile. Not understanding what this meant, I would later realize that our setbacks were in part the main reason for our successes.
Cindy and I became survivors because we had no other choice. Our first marriages failed mainly because our husbands were jealous of our tight knit relationship.
I have spent far too many years of my life arguing with a husband about spending time with my sister. A husband is replaceable but my sister is not. My sister and I never took an interest in drinking or other self destructive behaviors that other children with difficult childhoods often do.
Neither Cindy or I had easy pregnancies. Although we both wanted children, we both nearly died having them. My son, is a miracle child and often called “the million dollar baby” by family members. The reason is that medical expenses getting him here were so high.
Cindy’s daughters, Leigh Ann and Stephaney both came home with me because Cindy was far too sick to leave the hospital.
For months Leigh Ann thought that I was her mother after Cindy became septic following the csection for Leigh Ann. Due to Cindy’s infection and fever, it would be a month before she was able to hold Leigh Ann.
It’s not unusual for twins to be close. It is very unusual for twins to be as close as we are.
Cindy’s twin granddaughters are as close as we are. Maryssa and Makenna know the gift of having a built in best friend.
Many of my businesses contain the word twin because we are a twin family.
My niece Leigh Ann was the firstborn and oldest child out of our three children. Now that she’s a mother herself, Leigh Ann realizes the full responsibility of raising Madyson and that it often “takes a village” to raise a child.
Latest Little Pawner, Madyson Blais is often on location with her mother, Leigh Ann, Cindy or I. Maddy and the twins are so popular on our social media pages that when I show up at an event without my grandnieces, everyone asks where they are.A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog regarding an upcoming Baptism for a couple that I had married a few years ago. I remember all of my clients which surprises them on occasion and I immediately remembered Deanna when she had emailed requesting a Baptism.
Hearing that Deanna was pregnant, my joy for this Blessing soon had me praying for a miracle after learning that there was a possibility of problems due to Trisomy.
For weeks I followed Deanna’s updates on FB and continued to pray that everything with Baby Delilah would be okay.
A previous client and good friend, Rebecca Bowman, had far more knowledge than I did about Trisomy and included Deanna and Burt in her prayer circle as we waited to schedule the Baptism until immediately after the birth of beautiful baby, Delilah.
Last Tuesday 04-10-2018, Deanna sent me a text that the csection would be scheduled for 5PM.
Reading the text while Cindy and I were in Granbury at 11AM with her granddaughter, Makenna who is home schooled and was taking the Star Test for Texas, I quickly decided that if Makenna finished the test by 1-1:30PM, we could run her home together to stay with Leigh Ann and head to Fort Worth. If Makenna was still testing at 1:30, I would call my niece to come pick me up and leave Cindy with my SUV and Makenna.
Planning out our options, Cindy and I were relieved that Makenna finished early and was pleased with her essay. Makenna is a straight A student while her twin sister, Maryssa struggles academically. This is not unusual for twins. One often excels at subjects while the other struggles to retain lessons in school. I love reading and Cindy hates it. Makenna mirrors me while Maryssa mirrors Cindy.
My husband and I often laugh about a conversation with Maryssa regarding applying herself more to academics. We were having dinner and I suggested that Maryssa spend more time studying and less time on her beloved phone. At ten years old, Maryssa answered “but, I like to party!” We laughed so hard at that statement that we now call it the “I like to party Incident.” Obviously, a ten year old had no idea what the term meant.
From the parking lot of the conference center in Granbury, I quickly sent a text to let Deanna know that Cindy and I would be at Harris Methodist Hospital at 5PM to meet her and await Baby Delilah’s arrival.
Leaving Weatherford after dropping off Makenna at 3PM, I had just enough time to run back home and change clothes while packing everything I needed for the hospital Baptism and a change of clothes for the IHeart Radio Event in Dallas.
Cindy and I had a 7PM appointment in Dallas for CEO Money with Michael Yorba and IHeart Radio so, I quickly ran the distance on my navigation app from the hospital in Fort Worth to the address in Dallas.
I had given myself an hour and a half from 5:00-6:30 to be at Harris Hospital and knew that we could still be in Dallas by 7PM. Event Stacking is necessary now and then due to my schedule as we had committed to Michael several weeks ago, Cindy and I still planned on attending even if we might be running 5-10 minutes late leaving the hospital.
Whenever I can, I delegate short notice requests to my staff if I’m already overbooked and “event stacked.” This doesn’t always work because I am the first choice for anyone contacting me regarding an Event Request. For coordination bookings, Cindy and I work together as twin consultants for the same flat fee.
Event Stacking is a delicate balance of timing for me. The distance from one event to the next along with the expected amount of time on location are huge factors in my ability to stack events. I always over estimate my time on location to prevent being late to the next event.
I knew that if we had to “skip” the Michael Yorba Event that Michael would understand that the birth of baby Delilah and subsequent Baptism immediately following would take precedent over our appearance with him in Dallas. Cindy and I both respect Michael very much and value his friendship.
Deanna had told me that Delilah was expected to live a short while and it was very important to her parents that the Baptism took place as soon as possible.
Whatever it took, I wanted to be available and at the hospital for the Villarreal Family even if it might mean dissapointing Michael and missing out appearance in Dallas. The family needed me far more (under the circumstances) than the Dallas Event.
Cindy and I arrived at Harris Hospital shortly before 5 and listened to Delila’s heartbeat on the monitor attached to Deanna. Deanna looked absolutely radiant and I was quickly reminded of how beautiful she looked at her wedding.
Cindy and I were both relieved to hear that tiny heartbeat! Deanna suggested getting coffee at the hospital cafeteria while we waited on the doctor to prepare her for surgery.
At 5:37PM while Cindy and I were going over scheduling in the cafe at Harris Hospital, Deanna’s friend sent a text that the surgery was rescheduled for 7PM.
Since Cindy and I knew the distance to Dallas, we jointly decided to go to Dallas early, make an appearance and return to the hospital in time for Baby Delilah.
Due to traffic, we arrived in Dallas at 6:34 which took far longer than we had expected. At exactly 7PM, we walked into the Event. At 7:30PM, meeting our commitments, Cindy and I left to return to Harris Hospital.
At 8:15PM, Cindy and I returned to Harris and were escorted to Deanna. Walking into her room, I knew something terrible had happened. Her friends and family and her husband, Burt were crying.
It felt as if my heart had stopped or I had stopped breathing in the quiet of the hospital room.
I was devastated by the silent tears and sadness surrounding Deanna and Baby Delilah. Although I couldn’t see Cindy who was behind me with everyone else, I could hear her softly crying.
My heart was so heavy knowing that my joy of hearing that heartbeat earlier and expecting to see a smiling baby girl were unfounded.
The difficulty for me baptizing baby Delilah was apparent as I cried throughout the ceremony. Applying Holy Water I had ordered from the Jordan River to Baby Delilah, my tears were also falling silently across Deanna as she held her beautiful baby girl.
My heart was broken for this beautiful couple who wanted more than anything in the world to have a miracle happen with baby Delilah. The sadness I felt for the family will forever be with me.
I’m always asked by reporters or production companies “what is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my line of work?” The hardest thing that I have ever done and ever will do is memorialize a child. It is by far the most emotionally challenging service there is.
I have no idea why everyone asks this question but, ask anyone who has ever Officiated a Funeral or Memorial for a child or baby and I promise they will agree that the pain and loss they feel are equal to my own. Funeral Directors also struggle with a Child’s Funeral emotionally.
Celebrating the Life of someone who enjoyed a lifetime of living is a completely different scenario. I have Officiated 57 Funerals and realize that saying goodbye one last time is so difficult for parents and family members that it’s not unusual for me to suggest Grief Counseling.
With a few of my Clients, I’ve suggested Counseling for Complicated Grief Syndrome which is far more complex than traditional Grief.
Getting Counseling to help you recover from a tragic loss is essential to healing your broken heart.
Many of the event requests I review have sad “back stories” and issues but, nothing is as painful for me as saying goodbye to a child.
I’ve Officiated three children’s Memorials and the sorrow stays with you for not only the families but also the life that was cut short too soon.
Leaving Harris Hospital Tuesday night with Cindy, I was so distraught downstairs in the lobby that I had to sit down and cry for this family over an hour.
My sadness was overwhelming as Cindy sat next to me crying at the loss that neither of us had expected.
We left Harris numb and in shock knowing that the Memorial would be scheduled for Friday or Saturday.
I quickly checked my schedule and was relieved that I had left left Friday open because I was Officiating Texas Prison Weddings Wednesday and Thursday.
To find a day off for myself, I often schedule every other day off in order to address short notice calls from Chaplains or Wardens advising me of a date and time.
Not surprisingly, I rarely do actually enjoy a day off during the week due to Prison Weddings and often work a Saturday and try to take a Sunday off or vice versa in order to have one day with my husband which is rare during wedding season.
Matthew is (after allthese years) accustomed to watching our caravan of family members load up suvs and head out for the better part of the day on weekends.
Scheduling Texas Prison Weddings is very tricky because I often only have 2-3 days notice. All Texas Prison Weddings have 2 days a month for weddings. The days alternate at different Units.
Because of the inability to know the exact date of a Prison Wedding, I am an accomplished “juggler” of weekday scheduling regarding Prison Wedding requests.
To give me more flexibility on scheduling, I ask TDCJ Clients to choose three possible dates for their wedding in the event I’m scheduled at another Unit on the date they are assigned.
If a scheduling conflict occurs, I contact the Chaplain and Client to advise them of a reschedule.
I stayed up late Tuesday unable to sleep making notes and finding Scriptures that could be incorporated into the ceremony for baby Delilah after leaving Harris Hospital.
As usual, a stack of emails waited for me from my full day on Tuesday. I skipped reading my email and on Wednesday morning, finally got around to returning calls and answering emails when I reviewed an email from Emmy.
Emmy was marrying a Military Veteran Friday on the courthouse steps and couldn’t find a photographer who would accommodate her on short notice.
I quickly called my niece Leigh Ann to schedule the event and let her know that I would babysit her daughter, Maddy.
Leigh Ann often handles photography but has never been on location alone as Cindy or I have always accompanied her. It was “different” for her to be alone but, Leigh Ann handled going solo like a champ.
If you would like to book Leigh Ann, you can either go through this site or contact her directly on her FB Page– Maddie & Me Photography.
Cindy and I took Maddy with us on Friday while Leigh Ann was handling photography to run errands and prepare for Delilah’s Memorial Saturday at 1PM in Mansfield and the Easter Eggtravaganza at 5PM in Weatherford for the Bowman Family.
Saturday morning, I went over my notes for the Memorial and asked Deanna what she would want me to wear to Officiate. Deanna chose the vestment that I had worn to Officiate their wedding and after setting out my clothes and going over what I would need to pack for the Bowman Event, I learned that my printer wasn’t working and ran to Kinkos to type up the service for the Villarreal Family before running back home to change clothes and head to Mansfield with Cindy.
Arriving at Skyview Funeral Home at 12:20PM, I found Deanna and Burt in the Chapel and gave them the Baptism Certificate that I had framed for Delilah.
Overcome with emotion, I went to a private room to better prepare myself for the hardest ceremony that I would ever perform. As Cindy sat with me, she silently cried while I once again tried to calm my breathing.
Cindy had warned me to try not to cry because she knew how emotional I was and how difficult giving comfort to the family would be for me and, she was right.
I had worked on my ceremony for three days with tear stained notes and prayers. As I looked at my perfectly printed pages for the Memorial, my voice faulted looking at the grieving families seated before me. Many had been at the hospital with Deanna and Burt.
Finding my place, I began to describe how I had met Burt and Deanna two years before in Sampson Park. I knew that they were both Military from the booking information and since Cindy was home sick and both my photography teams booked elsewhere, arrived alone to Officiate the wedding which is unusual since I’m rarely alone.
It had been raining on the morning of the Villarreal Wedding and I had hoped the sun would break through for the ceremony.
I met Burt first who had draped fabric from the trees and planted silk flowers since the tulips had yet to bloom under the trees. I found his attention to details heartwarming.
It was rare for a Groom to notice such minor details in a park but, Burt did. Their wedding was beautiful and with a guitarist seated near me, I remember thinking “what a perfect day.” Deanna’s smile approaching Burt and I was one of pure joy.At the Memorial, I reflected on how I had first met the couple and the honor I felt being asked to Baptize Baby Delilah. Throughout the Memorial, I cried at the loss for this wonderful couple.
Traditionally, my role as a Celebrant requires me to mask my emotion. However, knowing the family, made it difficult for me to hide my sorrow.
Please continue to keep Deanna and Burt in your prayers in the coming days and weeks with me and feel free to share Deanna’s post for families like theirs who have lost a child by donating or sharing her page— Deanna Villarreal Lay Me Down To Sleep Memory Walk.
Over the years, I’ve been asked if I’m ever nervous addressing a roomful of strangers and the answer is yes. Who isn’t?
My fear of difficulty speaking is always present when I’m addressing a room that is often full of strangers. Because of this, I make numerous notes and drafts before typing up an outline of exactly what I’m planning to say in order to “find my place” should I lose my voice or ability to speak for a moment.
Fear of stuttering in a public situation that requires me to communicate was far less of an issue when I worked for twenty plus years as a model. The reason for this is that at style or runway shows, I was more or less a hanger that could walk, pause, smile and exit the runway with well taught grace.
For commercial work, the benefit of a retake was an option should I run into issues promoting the product that I happened to be advertising.
In the Event Business, there are no do overs. There are no retakes. You have one shot to get it right and cover all of the bases. Preparation and multi tasking are key.
I’ve often had to face my fear of public speaking head on and fly by the seat of my pants with the knowledge that my “back up” of well documented notes or cue cards would get me through the process.
The past week I’ve probably shed more tears than I have in more than ten years. I’m perhaps far more emotional than many other Ministers because my path in life as well as my twin sister, Cindy’s has had far too many sad moments the past 8 years in the Event Business.
From a family who lost everything in a fire to more families than I can count facing losing their homes– many times the families coming to us for help have been turned away by other vendors. It’s tragic but, it’s true.
My family and I have helped over a thousand families who couldn’t find anyone else in this industry to help them. Several requests weren’t actually even “event related.” From needing career clothes to start a new job to repairing a fence that had fallen down- I have never turned down a genuine request for help from anyone.
It’s rare for my sister to cry or show emotion because she often takes on the task of masking her heartache with laughter.
Over the past five days, even Cindy was unable to laugh with the events of the past week for us both.
A few weeks ago, I had sent a message to Rebecca after reading her post about Elijah’s Journey.
Elijah had never seen the Easter Bunny and hearing this, I quickly volunteered to rent a costume and play the Easter Bunny myself at Cook Childrens Hospital. To donate to Elijah’s Journey, please visit (or share) this link— Elijah’s Journey.
Seeing the delight on Elijah’s face approaching Makenna in her Bunny outfit ended my long Saturday on a happy note. My grandniece Makenna loves nothing more than making children smile.
For years, Maryssa and Makenna worked in hundreds of weddings as flower girls, ring bearers and ushers. Now that they are older, they’ve decided to expand their talents while continuing to entertain children at Princess Parties.
Makenna decided that the one thing she wanted to do more than anything was to make Elijah smile and, she did.
Special thanks to my niece Leigh Ann Blais for accompanying us to the Holder-Bowman Event to provide photography.Since I was surprised by this request, I asked Makenna if she was sure about wearing a costume and learned that my grandniece enjoys entertaining children so much that I’m going to add costumes to our inventory so that we are better able to entertain children in hospitals and at parties with our latest entertainer, Makenna Mahaney.
Maryssa and Makenna are both thrilled about our latest expansion that will include Princess Parties and other characters. Due to the number of requests for an Elvis Officiant, we will be offering that as well but, please keep in mind that a singing Elvis Officiant will not be available.
In the coming months, we will have a Disney Princess costume, Santa Outfit for the children at Christmas and a wide array of other options for your event needs.
I’ve also added my father, Jerry L Thomas as an Officiant and Celebrant to my Texas Twins Events Team to address continued requests “in season” and we now have 6 Officiants to serve Clients from Texas Twins Events and The Pawning Planners.
Personal bookings for myself or a TwinTeam of Cindy and I are booked out through 2019 on weekends. If you have a short notice request, I may be able to “stack” your event but, it’s based entirely on my existing schedule.
Military Members always take priority of course due to their schedules and are worked into my schedule first.
During the week on Monday- Friday, I am at Texas Prisons Officiating TDCJ Weddings, meeting Clients, delivering sold items from Texas Twins Treasures, or meeting Pawning Planners Clients at their homes to Appraise prospective trades or working at numerous venues in on staff at when not volunteering as a Hospice Clergy.
If you have a special request on short notice, please feel free to email me and if necessary, I will “stack” your event in the order it was received or designate another staff member to address your event needs if I’m not available.
Please Note: If I am already booked Coordinating an Event on the date you are requesting on short notice that I Do Not Event Stack on those dates. The reason for this is that I’m on location 4-8 hours and obviously, not available to “stack” an event on the same date. However, someone else on my staff can certainly accommodate you.
Event Coordination takes far longer on location than a Religious Ceremony or Service. I’m generally on location for a Religious Ceremony an hour and schedule two hours just to be on the safe side.
The reason I give myself two hours on location to Officiate a wedding that often only takes 20-30 minutes to perform for is that clients often request for me to stay after a ceremony either for photos or to say a prayer before the meal. I rarely can stay for the reception due to my schedule although I do appreciate the offer.
My Texas Twins Events staff members often have far more “flexibility” for new bookings than I do. Everyone on my staff is a member of my family. Texas Twins Events, Texas Twins Treasures, Texas Prison Weddings and Texas Twins TV are all owned and operated by me and four generations of my family work with me to make Dream Events a Reality “one family or barter at a time from Fort Worth, Texas.”
Rev Wendy Wortham