Two sets of twins on the recent branches of your family tree can be pretty normal. Three or four is more unusual, but the five on the Waisner family tree really sets the family apart.
Four sets of twins gathered recently at Bill Waisner’s Overland Park home. It starts with Bill and Bob Waisner. Two of Bill’s five children were twin girls, Lisa Waisner and Lori Hardman.
His other daughter, Janelle Cates, had twin girls of her own, Carolyn and Catherine Cates. One of Bill’s sons, Brian Waisner, has twin children, Will and Hope Waisner.
The fifth set of fraternal twins was Bill and Bob’s aunts, Ola and Lola Waisner, who are no longer living.
Out of all of those twins, the family says that none are identical, although they have similar looks.
Bill and Bob looked a lot alike growing up — at school, the portrait photographer only sent home one print, thinking he’d taken two shots of the same boy.
They went out on a double date as young men, Bill with his late wife, Carol, and Bob with his girlfriend (now wife), Betty. When they walked out of the restaurant, the ladies each grabbed the arm of the wrong guy.
As they’ve gotten older, they don’t look quite as similar anymore. Technically, the elder Waisners don’t have proof that they’re fraternal, and they say they’d like to get a test to be sure.
All those generations of twins almost didn’t happen. When Bill and Bob were born in 1931, there was a blizzard in their hometown of Clarksburg, Mo., 30 miles west of Jefferson City.
At that time, home births were normal, but their mother was suffering from toxemia and needed to go to the hospital. With the roads closed, neighbors managed to get a horse-drawn carriage through to U.S. 50, where an ambulance took them the rest of the way.
When they were children at a father-daughter banquet, Lisa Waisner and Lori Hardman considered themselves fortunate to be from a family of twins and brought both Bill and Bob so they could each have a dad with them.
As her own kids were growing up, Lori said, “They always felt (that) they had two moms” in Lori and Lisa.
Lisa said she and Lori have what they call “amazing twin moments.” Once, they met driving side by side on Interstate 435. One called the other to ask where she was headed. Both were going to a Royals game, wearing the same Royals shirt, and they had tickets for adjoining sections.
Carolyn Cates says she and Catherine don’t dress alike, but their twin connection comes out when they often say the same thing at the same time. People also call them by each other’s names.
When you’re a twin, “you learn to answer to your twin’s name,” Lisa said.
With so many relatives, the Waisner family gets together nearly every month, according to Lisa.
The most recent set of twins, Will and Hope, are the first of different genders.
“I thought it was pretty special that we ended up having twins,” said Laura Waisner, mother to Will and Hope. “(Being) the first set of boy-girl twins … there’s something special about it.”
Janelle Cates also likes the unique identity of her family.
“I always felt very blessed,” Janelle said. “I could say I’m the daughter of twins, the sister of twins, the mother of twins and the aunt of twins.”