I was always smarter

That’s what my dad said about his twin (fraternal) brother, who was born (supposedly) a few hours before him. The story was that my dad was just big and pushed out his older brother first. Then my dad came out…and essentially was the dominant one in everything.

Like brothers, they were competitive in everything. Being the only sons in a traditional Chinese family, it was expected that they would do everything to carry on the family. Their younger sisters were tormented by the two. There’s a story that one of the brothers tricked the youngest sister into believing a lie and she was only corrected by the other brother. I am pretty sure that my dad was the former.

As roommates in college after they moved out of the dorms (at Washington State University at Pullman), there’s a story that clearly distinguishes their personalities. Bills arrived in the mail. My uncle, the older brother, carefully opened each one with a letter opener, making sure not to rip the contents. My dad simply took the envelope and ran his finger along the edge, opening it. His older brother became furious because the inside contents could be crumpled and worse yet, ruined!

(Oddly enough, I am, by nature, the most messy in my family…and have always thought my dad was annoyingly too neat and organized…so the story surprises me.)

“I always was smarter and faster,” my dad said, describing his brother.

“And you have more hair and slightly taller,” I observe my dad who is in his mid-60s.

At a family wedding, I observed them both. It has been years since they lived together as teens..and in college. They each have a family. Two kids. All around my age. My uncle lives in Michigan, closer to the rest of the siblings. My dad lives in California, closer to his parents. My dad’s kids (my sister and me) are living super independent free-wheeling lifestyles on opposite coasts of the states. And my uncle kids…one is married and living in LA and the other lives in Ohio with well-settled careers. Who wins? Nobody, really. But while my mom, always very social with my dad’s sisters, I see barely communication between the brothers. They are watching my cousin get married in silence. Perhaps they think, “I can’t wait to show off again how great my kids are.”

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