“I don’t need anybody right now to wait on me,” said Dudley, who is younger than her sister by about 3 minutes.
Dudley remains hale despite a November fall that cracked a couple of ribs, she said. But she repeats her rehabilitation exercises each morning and makes sure to get out of her home for events like bingo, senior center dances and church.
“We go to church every Sunday,” she said, glancing at Ellington, who is also feisty and independent despite a fall that broke her hip in 2007.
Ellington said their stay-active spirit could be traced to their upbringing on the Oklahoma family farm. Though the twins had 10 siblings, Ellington said there was never a shortage of work to be done.
“We used to cut down trees,” she said of her and her sister. “We worked all day. We didn’t know what tired was.”
Dudley worked locally until the age of 69, with Ellington working even longer to help a man who couldn’t move on his own. She stopped, however, when he needed more professional assistance.
“If not, I’d still be there,” Ellington said.
Ellington also attributed their health to living a clean, Christian life.
“Stay out of the bar. I’m 94 years old, and I’ve never had a beer,” she said.
“I give the Lord the credit,” Dudley added. “He’s been good to me my whole life.”
Ellington moved to Tracy in 1962, and her sister followed in 1989.
“I lived in Arizona, and my sister called me and said, ‘Why don’t you come out here?’ So I came out here,” Dudley recalled.
Since then, the two have been even closer than before, said Barbara Byrd, Ellington’s second oldest child, who was visiting from Las Vegas.
“They’ve always been very close,” Byrd said.
The only fight the twins could remember was from their teenage days, when Ellington hit her sister while trying to pry away a guitar.
“I thought I killed her,” Ellington said, laughing together with her sister.
This weekend, the two will celebrate Mother’s Day the way they spend every Sunday.
“We’re going to church,” said Ellington, though she added that this Sunday will feature more phone calls than normal — she mothered six children, while Dudley bore two.
Byrd said her mother and aunt were an inspiration to their whole family, as well as folks they meet.
“They’re the ones who give a lot of people, including me, that idea that you’ve got to keep moving,” she said.
• In the Spotlight is a weekly feature that highlights the people who make Tracy and Mountain House unique. To nominate someone, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 835-3030.