“You are just like your father”

Published 12:28 am Sunday, June 17, 2012

Identical twins and other multiple-birth siblings have always fascinated me.

Little did I know that one day I’d wake up and realize that I had a twin, sort of.

Part of the fascination is simply the curiosity of seeing two humans that are exactly alike.

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The idea goes against nearly every vacation Bible school and Sunday school lesson that was drilled into my head between glasses of sugar-amped Kool-Aid and handfuls of sugar cookies.

We’re all unique, we were taught; no one else on earth is like you. The idea was pretty powerful and inspiring.

But the heady air of uniqueness came crashing down with a big asterisk once you met your first pair of twins.

If you ever watched the face of a young child who is encountering twins, you’ll quickly understand.

Something seems mysterious, even unnatural upon a first encounter. But far from actually being strange, adults know twins are truly unique gifts from God.

They’re random scientific miracles.

But far beyond the simple curiosity of seeing two or more humans with the same genetic markers is something far more interesting.

For centuries, scientists have studied identical twins, attempting to understand how it is that they can share so many similarities — even sometimes when nurtured apart from one another.

Some of the similarities can be a little peculiar for the rest of us.

Twins often share the same likes, dislikes, mannerisms, etc.

But other, non-twin, people sometimes share those same things, without exactly matching DNA.

My older brother, I am told, sounds just like me — or I sound like him, as he’d suggest claiming his birthright to always be ahead of me. The similar sounds are particularly true on the telephone, an old friend told me who called my apartment years ago when my brother was living with me.

My friend carried on a bit of conversation before he realized the person on the other end of the telephone had no clue to what he was referring. Wrong Cooper.

Clearly my brother and I share some DNA, but the voice is about where the similarities end, not counting the baldhead.

But the person to whom I share DNA — and many of the same mannerisms — is much older than my brother or me.

He was born in the 1940s, if you can imagine.

We’re so closely connected that my mother says I even stand like him. How exactly that’s possible to know, I’m not sure. I thought most people stand similarly, don’t they?

Through the years, my old-man twin and I have shared many things. I’ve infuriated him at times and probably brought him to tears at others.

He taught me while I was still in diapers the difference between a screwdriver and a pair of pliers.

Together, we’ve spent countless hours working on old cars and other projects around the house as I was growing up.

The old-man twin taught me volumes about cars and other mechanical things. But most importantly, he provided me an excellent example in which to follow.

Years ago, as a teenager, I was a little aggravated when someone would say, “You are just like your father.”

Years later, it makes me proud, though I know I’ll never be half the man he is.

Thanks for everything, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.