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Twin Telepathy | by Warren Goldie

Iowa Source magazine

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Gloria and Emma Proksch, Fairfield’s colorful, hard-to-miss twins, wear identical outfits, jewelry, eyeglasses, and shoes, and do most everything alike—including working as accountants and marrying brothers. How many sisters share the same maiden and married names?

Step into their natural-stone ranch house across the street from Everybody’s Whole Foods and you are greeted by a cacophony of barks and yelps coming from the five dogs in the kitchen penned behind an accordion gate. In counterpoint, a tabby cat sits on the top of a nearby table, plaintively eyeing the twins as they settle onto a couch and armchair in the living room.

The family story is told by Gloria, the spokesperson, while Emma inserts footnotes at the appropriate places, sliding her comments into the narrative so deftly one has the impression of listening to a single speaker. Occasionally, a sister disputes a fact, which more often than not begins with “No, monis,” monis being short for monisima or “cutie” in Spanish. They giggle, embarrassed at revealing this intimate detail—yet clearly enjoying it. Gloria’s hands move vigorously as she speaks, her warp-speed Mexican accent accompanied by the clanking of wrist bangles and bracelets (the same ones Emma wears) and her entertainer’s bright eyes.

It’s clear there is no “I” here, only a “we.” And we becomes otherworldly as stories of twin telepathy and synchronicity abound. For example, when Gloria was pregnant, it was Emma who suffered morning sickness. And there were the times the twins mailed the exact same birthday card to Gloria’s daughters from their distant homes in Minnesota and California. As children, one would beam a mental suggestion such as “come into the kitchen” in the middle of the night, only to find the other one waiting there.

Of course, the story of how the twins found their way from Guadalajara, Mexico, to Fairfield, Iowa, is anything but ordinary.

Love on the Plaza de Armas

The twins as young girls.

The twins as young girls.

The twins’ father, David Zapata, was a Spanish diplomat-turned-engineer who moved his family from Barcelona to Mexico when Gloria and Emma were toddlers. Their mother, Emma, was a devout Catholic.

The first step on their journey to the U.S. took place in February 1965 at Plaza de Armas in Guadalajara on a Sunday night, with a light orchestra playing and young men strolling the square carrying roses intended for the single women who traveled in clusters under the watchful gaze of chaperons.

One of these men was Charlie Proksch of Minneapolis. Charlie, the owner of a Dairy Queen and a few real estate properties, spent most winters vacationing in Mexico, and on this particular trip was on the lookout for a Latina bride. A fluent Spanish speaker, Charlie met Gloria that evening, courted her for a year in the chaste Mexican tradition, and on Valentine’s Day 1966, married her.

Gloria’s mother blessed her daughter’s marriage and new life in Minneapolis. “My mother always give us the wings,” explains Gloria. “When there was an opportunity to fly, she let us fly. She was so wonderful a human being. Our mother was our best friend.”

Gloria gushes out her family’s history with reverence, pride, and formality, strategically emphasizing certain words, as in “My daughter Veronica is married, and is the beautiful mother of a precious granddaughter. My daughter Charlene is a gorgeous, wonderful mother. . . .”

Life Changing Events

In the years following the marriage, Gloria’s twin, Emma, traveled often from Mexico to visit Gloria and Charlie. On a vacation in 1969, Charlie drove the twins to Tucson, Arizona, to visit his family. On seeing the comely, vibrant Emma, Charlie’s mother phoned up his younger brother, Ronald, an accountant living in California, urging him to come home immediately.

“He went after her,” Gloria recalls with a mischievous laugh, as she watches the doe-eyed Emma nod in agreement. On Valentine’s Day 1969, Emma and Ronald married.

Both couples eventually found their way to Palm Springs, California, where the sisters lived happily close to one another for the first time in the U.S.

Their lives changed dramatically in 1972 when Charlie traveled to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, on a business trip, and saw a poster about Transcendental Meditation.

When Charlie learned TM in nearby Fairfield, the Type A businessman whose friends swore would be a candidate for stress-related illness suddenly became relaxed and vital. Gloria was thunderstruck by the transformation. “Immediately, I noticed something was different in my husband. He was 10 years older than me and I could not keep up with him. What he had, I wanted.” In short order, Charlie flew Gloria, Emma, the rest of his family, and the twins’ mother (from Guadalajara) to Fairfield, where they all learned how to meditate.

Staying Steady

But the idea of moving permanently to tiny, rural Fairfield, as Charlie wanted, sent shudders of fear through Gloria. What changed her mind was the love her two daughters felt for Fairfield and especially Maharishi School, where they attended summer school.

“My daughter, the oldest, she cry every time we leave here,” recalls Gloria. “She cry all the way to California. In 1978 is when we stay steady here.”

Now, 35 years later, the twins live in a spacious home with a cream shag-carpeted living room, antique tables bearing framed photos, and a massive stone fireplace. Gloria, a widow since 1998, is in her 14th year as an accountant for a Fairfield immigration attorney. Emma is retired, having moved in with Gloria after Ronald died in 2009.

Why exactly do the twins dress alike? “Because we’re twins!” comes the answer, in sync from the identical ladies, without so much as a glance at one another. (Emma does all the clothes shopping.) Are they happy? “We are happy! Of course! Why not?”

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