Eleven-year-old brothers Paul and Phillip Hathaway have been close to each other ever since they were born. In fact, they’ve been close even longer than that! Paul and Phillip, who live in a suburb of Seattle, Washington, are fraternal twins. So they shared space together even while they were waiting to be born!
They also shared an early arrival. “They were born 12 weeks premature [earlier than expected],” explains their mother, Sherri. Sometimes babies born that soon are so small they die.
“They weighed three pounds, one ounce, and three pounds, three ounces,” their father, Wayne, adds. “Each little head was smaller than a baseball. We gave them a priesthood blessing and all we could do was put two fingers on their heads. They were tiny.” The babies spent eight weeks in the hospital. Doctors found their condition was better when they were together than when they were apart, so they kept them close to each other.
But Paul was born with something Phillip didn’t share—a disease called cerebral palsy. Although Phillip soon grew to be healthy, Paul had problems controlling his leg muscles. His brain would send too many signals to his legs, so the legs didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t sit up or walk. He had to have lots of physical therapy.
Then when Paul was five years old, a therapist recommended a new kind of surgery. Fewer than 100 people in the country had ever had such an operation, but doctors said chances were good it would help.
The operation was long. Surgeons cut nerves in Paul’s back and in one leg to reduce the nerve signals to his legs. After the surgery, the recovery was slow and painful, with six more months of therapy. “It was hard for Phillip to watch Paul struggle,” their father says. “They asked to be together, so sometimes we would let Phillip spend the night where Paul was recovering. He just wanted to be with his brother.”
Today the brothers are still together—and still sharing. Paul drags his foot a little, but he walks! That allows him to pass the football back and forth with Phillip. He can also hold the ball while Phillip kicks. They work on Cub Scout pins and badges, and go to their Primary class on Sundays. They earned their Faith in God Awards together. And they practice their trumpets while their older sister Avery, 12, plays clarinet and their younger sister Kaylene, 10, holds the music. All of the children love soccer, and Paul was asked to be the manager for Phillip’s team at school. All of the brothers and sisters read and study together and talk about their school assignments. And all of them play with Avery’s pet hedgehog, Pooka, which she shares with the entire family.
In fact, sharing is what Paul, Phillip, and their family are all about. Join them for family home evening and you’ll see. Every Monday night, the Hathaways share a moment of prayer. They share hymns and scriptures. They share a lesson. They share plans for the coming week, talk about rules they have as a family, and plan chores that must be done. Then they share treats. It’s all well organized, because Dad and Mom share an assignment sheet with the family several days before. That gives everyone time to prepare.
Along with everything else the Hathaways share, they also share a great love for their Heavenly Father. “I know He has blessed me a lot,” Paul says. “I know He has blessed our whole family,” Phillip agrees. That knowledge is called a testimony. And that’s one of the greatest things brothers can share—whether they’re twins or not.