Twin centenarians celebrate birthdays
The secret to a long, happy life is always having someone by your side—at least for twin sisters Tracie Banser and Lonnie Buseman, pictured here. The two Lexington Square residents celebrated their 100th birthdays last week on Oct. 1.

By Julia Locanto

For The Elmhurst Independent

The secret to a long, happy life is always having someone by your side—at least according to twin sisters Tracie Banser and Lonnie Buseman. The two celebrated their 100th birthdays last week on Oct. 1.

The identical twins both live at Lexington Square Senior Living Community in Elmhurst. They reside on the same floor and said they have been inseparable all their lives. Lonnie said they are grateful to be turning 100 together.

“If I didn’t have her, I wouldn’t be able to celebrate,” Lonnie said of Tracie.

Lexington Square helped them celebrate last Thursday by serving spaghetti and meatballs, their favorite meal, thanks to their Italian roots. Pam Graffagna, Lexington Square’s Sales Counselor, said all residents came out and gave a champagne toast to Lonnie and Tracie, followed by cupcakes. Several family members visited for the celebration.

Where it all began…

Lonnie and Tracie’s close bond began early on in West Virginia, where they were born in 1920. With six brothers and one other sister, they lived in a full house. But they both said they were extremely happy growing up, thanks to their loving parents.

Lonnie credits their longevity to this.

“It was all due to our mother and father,” she said. “Nobody in the world had a mom and dad like we did.”

Although having twins was a surprise to their parents, they fully embraced it. The two said they could not leave the house unless they looked exactly alike.

“Even when we were babies, our mom had a dressmaker come and make matching clothes,” Tracie said.

They donned matching knitted suits in six different colors, even throughout their high school years. The trend never seemed to fade, as Lonnie and Tracie still match to this very day.

Their family moved to Chicago when the twins were teenagers, in hopes of finding more jobs. Tracie got a job at Motorola, and Lonnie at a dress factory. But the two couldn’t stay apart, and Lonnie eventually went to work for Motorola as well.

Aside from having each other, the twins said they both had amazing families in their adult years. Tracie and Lonnie both married in the 1940s. Tracie eventually remarried after her first husband passed away. Tracie has three daughters, and Lonnie has three daughters and two sons, whom they see as much as possible.

Their children visited (outdoors) different days last week to follow COVID-19 protocol.

“It’s nice that we can all be together,” Lonnie said.

Lonnie and Tracie lived in the Chicago suburbs with their families. Lonnie said they were always out and about, noting that their favorite activity was going dancing.

Staying active at Lexington Square

Since moving to Lexington Square, they have remained active. Lonnie said they used to go to happy hour and dinner together. They would golf and exercise in the facility’s fitness center.

“We used to get into everything,” Lonnie said.

Now, the two have slowed down a bit. They have both had several surgeries and go to the fitness center for exercises to maintain their health. Lonnie uses hearing aids, and Tracie has lost a lot of her hearing. Tracie also struggles with arthritis and uses a walker.

“We get along so well, but I have to holler at her because she can’t hear,” Lonnie said. “Everyone thinks we’re arguing!”

Despite these bumps in the road, the twins said they feel good.

“I do have to write everything down, so I don’t forget,” Tracie said with a laugh.

Tracie and Lonnie said they are grateful they have avoided any major health problems.

They stay busy at Lexington Square by playing bingo, watching sports and exercising. Lonnie still loves to dance, although her sister can’t anymore. They also socialize and visit their friends in the building.

Since COVID-19 hit, their options have been limited. Luckily, none of the 250 residents have contracted the virus, Graffagna said.

They can still have visitors outside, so Lonnie and Tracie see their kids and grandkids. They play virtual bingo and do video exercises on TV. Lonnie said their routines haven’t changed much. They wake up as early as 5 a.m. and try to go to bed before 9 p.m.

“When I fall asleep in front on the TV, that’s when I know it’s bedtime!” Lonnie said.

The twins said they are both content at Lexington Square. They have such a positive outlook on life because they have each other and so many joyful memories, Lonnie said.

“We have lots of stories to tell,” she said. “If you live in a happy home, you’ll be fine.”

 

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