That is me on the left and my “twin cousin” Mike on the right. It’s a screen grab from a home movie my dad shot in Upland, California in 1959. Mike was supposed to be a week or two older than me but I came early and, believe it or not, I’m three weeks older than him. The twin thing is not just because we were born so close together, but also because we are double first cousins. Our moms are sisters and our dads were brothers. A doctor once explained to me how double first cousins are genetically closer than siblings. It made sense at the time with him charting it out for me; it pretty much stopped making sense the second I walked out of the doctor’s office.
When we were growing up I was closer to Mike’s younger sister Diane than to Mike. She was slightly younger, but we were close enough in age to play with our Barbies together at our Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Harvey’s dry cleaner shop in Arizona. To this day, I think of Diane and Barbie whenever I walk into a dry cleaners and smell that distinctive scent. Diane died suddenly of an undiagnosed heart condition at the age of 16, exactly nine months after her younger sister Susie died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 12.
As I write this, Mike is dying of a massive brain bleed. He was taken off life support a few hours ago. He has a wife and two adult daughters. He has an older brother. And he has two parents who are now facing for the third time what no parent wants to face ever. I can’t even imagine.
I expect I will be heading down to Arkansas sometime in the next few days. I am determined to get our taxes done before I go. I am not in the best frame of mind to do them, but death and taxes can only be put off for so long, and time is up. I hope you have a better weekend than I am expecting.