My Dad’s identical twin brother died on Canada Day. He was 70 years old.
It is a strange feeling. I don’t know what is going on inside of me at the best of times and this time is no different.
Uncle Mike left Canada about 40 years ago for the United States and never looked back. The family lost touch with him until about just over a year ago when he had a friend of his reach out to family members through Facebook. His message – I am still here and I want family to know I still love them.
I have no idea why he left except that his early years were tough. We’ll leave it at that.
My dad, Peter James Cantelon, died at the end of 2011 of what might be called the consequence of a very hard life, most of which he brought on himself. I had the opportunity to perform his funeral and graveside service and this has proven to be healing.
I do not have that opportunity with Uncle Mike. He will be buried by his friends this Sunday and this gives me some comfort because those friends have become family to him.
It was always strangely wonderful to me that my father had an identical twin brother out there. A literal clone. After my dad died it was comforting to know that there was another person out there, related to me, who was an exact physical copy of my father. A paternity test would indicate both my dad and his brother as my father because they were genetic duplicates. This has a way of playing with your mind. I think I believed that I would have an opportunity to see my dad again in my Uncle Mike.
My dad was a broken man. He was very broken. Given his life and the choices he made many would have called him evil. Nevertheless I loved him.
My Uncle Mike, for all the genetic similarities and upbringing was a different person. Everyone who knew him tells of a gentle, kind and friendly individual; Someone who was a good human being and friend.
While it may be inappropriate I have sometimes come to see my dad and his twin brother as two halves of one person. I know that they had a profound connection and love for each other. I learned that Uncle Mike’s memorial service will be in a Bingo hall because of his near fanaticism with the game. I wonder if he knew that his brother Peter was also pretty much addicted to Bingo? I am guessing Uncle Mike probably never swore at and threw bingo dabbers at the callers for calling too slow (Dad was known to do that). I wonder about Uncle Mike’s dying just a year after his brother. 70 years old is not considered old these days in terms of lifespan.
I wonder if his brother’s death weighed on him? I cannot imagine being a twin and separated from my brother for 40 years. It seems like this would be difficult.
With Uncle Mike`s death my dad is now fully gone in a way he wasn’t before. I regret that I never saw him again before he died. I regret that I never even had a chance to talk to him on the phone before he died. I regret that I never wrote him a letter after he reconnected with family.
Death has a way of reminding you of the things that can no longer happen this side of the grave but it can also remind you of the things to be grateful for.
I am grateful for his friends and the care they provided to Uncle Mike in his final years. I am grateful that they are laying him to rest. I am grateful his death was peaceful. Ultimately I am grateful for him.