I always knew that I had two older brothers. There were six years between us, with me being the baby of the outfit. Andy, at 12 years older, should have been there throughout my life. Sadly, when I was just six years old, we lost touch. The year was 1969. Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon and the Beatles had just released their 11th album Abbey Road, and Woodstock took place.
The reasons behind Andy’s departure are beside the point and form no part of this story. Apart from anything else, I was only six. So life really just flowed around me at that time. Part of the issue was caused by the family’s somewhat nomadic existence during the 1970s. To say we moved around a lot would be an understatement. We lived in no less than 11 different homes in as many years. During this time, Andy was away in the army. When he returned and tried to find us, life and circumstances got in the way.
I always remembered my big brother. Hardly a day would go by when I didn’t think about him and wonder where he was. What didn’t help was that my only memory of him was as a soldier leaving for parts unknown. I always assumed that he was still serving and could be anywhere in the world. Both my parents died and I drifted apart from my only other sibling. He was the middle brother, six years older than me. For 20 or so years, I had no family to speak of and was resigned to remaining that way.
Then, last year during lockdown, my wife Raine and I decided to have a go at tracing our family trees. We joined one of the larger genealogy websites and began the hard work of building our trees. This would have been during the summer. In September, I received a personal message on the website.
It was from a woman’s account, but the message came from her boyfriend. He asked if we could be related because of the names on my tree. I replied, and within a short exchange of messages, I realized that my long lost big brother had found me. We emailed each other, swapped stories and photographs, and arranged to speak on the phone.
“I realized that my long lost big brother had found me.”
I hardly slept the night before our first phone call. I was stressed and worried in case we either didn’t get on or had nothing in common. One thing I didn’t worry about was my hearing. My Phonak hearing aids give me the confidence I need when speaking to people, either face to face or on the phone. Had this all happened four years before, I would have been a bundle of nerves fearing that I would not hear his voice or that I would struggle to understand him and have to keep asking him to repeat himself.
“My Phonak hearing aids give me the confidence I need when speaking to people, either face to face or on the phone.”
We have spoken on the phone every single week since that first call. We are so alike, it is uncanny. I swear that we could be twins, with me being the late one by 12 years. Sadly, we were unable to meet up until last month because of COVID restrictions.
Raine and our two daughters Estelle and Amelia came on the trip, as well as Andy’s girlfriend, Jacky. Our son Jordan was working and unable to meet his uncle this time. When it came to our big meet up, the one thing I knew would be spot on was the clarity of my hearing aids. We met on August 4, 2021 for a meal together in York. I was wearing my new upgraded hearing aids. A recent hearing test meant that my aids were perfectly programmed for my hearing needs. Thanks to Phonak technology, I was able to sit beside my brother for the first time in 53 years and hear every joke and bit of small talk in a noisy environment.
“I was able to sit beside my brother for the first time in 53 years and hear every joke and bit of small talk in a noisy environment.
This Saturday we are going on a trip back to where we grew up in Manchester. We plan to visit the cemeteries where our parents are buried to tidy the graves and lay flowers. It feels so good for us both to have family again. Really, this trip will just be two brothers going home.
Life may have given me my brother back, but it’s Phonak who has ensured that every sound is heard and no moment wasted. Thank you, Phonak, for caring about those with hearing loss enough to develop the technology we really need to live our lives to the fullest.