Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, August 25, 2014

Yearning For Family

"His name came up. I said to my wife, 'I knew a Ron Cole when I went to public school and he lived on Woodlawn Avenue."
"We were chums in public school for about two or three years, not knowing that we were brothers. It's unbelievable."
72-year-old Duncan Cumming, Guernsey

"I was about to hang up [the telephone], but she had a little too much information on my adopted family. She knew things that normally people wouldn't know. I started to listen. When she mentioned Duncan Cumming, that name kind of rang a bell."
71-year-old Ron Cole, Saskatchewan
Ron Cole, left, and Duncan Cumming as children at an Ottawa beach in the 1950s. The two childhood friends recently discovered that they are biological brothers.   Ron Cole / Ottawa Citizen
Stranger things likely happen, but in this world of happenstance, circumstance and peculiar serendipity, the reunion of two biological siblings does have an extraordinary story behind it. All the more so that even while they had the same biological mother, both were adopted, living within a neighbourly distance of one another. And while even their step-parents had no idea that the family they became friendly with, that each of their adopted sons found playmates with on the verge of their teen years, were in fact, brothers.

Duncan Cumming, now 72, and Ron Cole, 71, played together as young boys, attending the same public school, and they went places together, as good friends. Their parents, living in the near neighbourhood to one another were also friends. While Mr. Cole became a cattle rancher in Saskatchewan, Mr. Cumming remained in Ottawa doing security work until he moved to Guernsey in the English Channel with his wife.

As boys the two spent quite a bit of time together. "My parents had a cottage, and he'd been there, and I'd been to his place", explained Mr. Cole. While Mr. Cumming said they hung around together after school until dinnertime, playing as good friends were wont to do. He would never, he said, have imagined they were brothers, they looked nothing alike. Mr. Cumming had been searching for his biological mother for decades. Discovering she had died, he began a search for a brother and sister he knew existed, somewhere.

Then one day Mr. Cole received a telephone call from someone telling him they represented Parent Finders, an organization he had himself contacted over ten years earlier, given his telephone number to, then promptly forgot that contact. Obviously expecting nothing to come of it, despite that someone had recommended the organization to him and he had followed up on the recommendation. When he did receive that call that might have been long-awaited, but wasn't, he thought it was a scam.

Just coincidentally he had a few days before that telephoned contact, been organizing some of his personal papers when a folder containing photographs fell off the shelf. "I was moving them to gt them out of the way. I dropped them, and out fell this picture of Duncan. I looked at this and I thought, 'Why did I save this picture? What is this?", Mr. Cole said in an interview. Then, soon after his conversation with Parent Finders he received another telephone call.

This time the call was from his old childhood friend, Duncan Cumming. As they spoke, Mr. Cumming stated he thought he had a photograph of them both, when they were young, playing together. "I said, 'Well, don't say any more. Am I holding a beach ball and you're wearing a ball hat?", asked Mr. Cole of his newly-discovered biological brother. The very same photograph he had come across a few days earlier. "Just totally weird, eh?"

Weird, yes. ... Unsurprisingly, they're planning a reunion.

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