The secret to their long life is simple; it is "no drinking, no smoking and living a clean life so we'll go to heaven."
Norma Matthews and Edith "Edy" Antoncecchi turned 100 years old in December 2021, and the two of them are quite used to being the center of attraction. "People love that we're still together," Norma told The Washington Post. "We've done everything together since the day we were born."
Born outside Boston to Italian immigrants, the identical twins became local celebrities after their incredible life story was featured in the Tampa Bay Times. According to Margaret Shaffer, a neighbor who often drives the pair to the musical hour, the sisters draw attention wherever they go.
"Edy is more quiet, and Norma is the chatty one," she revealed. "If you take them to a restaurant, Norma is gone—she has to get up and talk to everyone. But they both light up the room."
Norma and Edy have seen quite a bit during the course of their lives, including things that were considered scandalous in the 1930s. Born on December 23, 1921, the twins' father left their mother for another woman when the girls were 13. Since then, their mother made two ends meet with a job in a shoe factory.
"When he divorced our mother, other kids avoided us like we had a disease," Norma said. "It was considered a scandal." Honestly, this helped them develop a tough skin. They were made fun of by their peers, but it didn't bother them, explained Edy—who is the older by a few minutes. "We made our own fun." Even if they had no friends, Edy and Norma found each others' company fulfilling.
They dressed alike, played pranks on their teachers by switching classes and helped look after their little brother, John. "We didn't have it easy, but we had a lot of fun," recalled Edy.
When their mother remarried, boys had to ask permission to take them on walks around the block because they weren't allowed to date, Norma shared. However, when Edy went into nursing and Norma became a hairdresser after high school, they both met somebody they wanted to marry.
The twins got married in 1943, with Norma tying the knot with Charles Matthews on Valentine's Day and Edy marrying Leo "Chick" Antoncecchi three months later.
"For the first time, we'd be living apart," Norma said. "So we decided it was important that we always lived as close as we could to each other." However, they moved next to each other in the Boston area for 51 years, during which Norma raised three children and spent many years mourning the loss of a 2-year-old daughter.
Four years ago, Edy too had grieved the death of one of her two sons. "Edy was always there for me, and I was always there for her," Norma said. "Whenever I'd get sick, Edy would somehow know. She'd call me up or come rushing over to make sure I was okay."
The two of them were married for 51 years, as both their spouses also died the same year, months apart in 1994—Leo in a car accident and Charles of Alzheimer's disease. The twins, in a bid to heal from the loss, moved south to Florida in 1995, where they lived in the same mobile home park before eventually moving in together.
While the two make sure to have healthy meals on a regular basis, the centenarians believe the real secret to their longevity is "no drinking, no smoking and living a clean life so we'll go to heaven."
According to the sisters, their commitment to their Christian faith helped guide their life choices. "There's only up or down, so forgive others and keep clean for your own sake," said Norma. "Edy and I have done our best to take that to heart." Since they've relied on each other their whole lives, Edy and Norma aren't sure if one would survive long without the other. "We really feel that one can't depart without the other," Norma said. "I'd do anything for Edy. She's my everything."