In 2000 Sydney hosted the Olympic Games. Both my wife and myself were living and working in Sydney at the time. During the games security was very tight and there were a number of exclusions zones set up to restrict traffic movement in and around the event sites. The result of this was that both myself and my wife would have double the commute time to work. After some discussion we decided to apply for extended leave and to plan a trip around the world. We would be away for a little over six weeks and travel to North America, Canada, England, Ireland, Germany and South Africa.
Just two weeks prior to departure I received a phone call from my brother who had just been to visit an Uncle who was in hospital in Melbourne. Martin McLoughlin, or Uncle Pat as he was known to all, was an Irishman who had served in the Merchant Marine as an engineer during WW2. After the war he came to Australia and married my father’s sister. They were unable to have children, and myself and my brother spent a lot of time with them during school holidays.
The content of the conversation that my brother had with Uncle Pat, was that he revealed we had a cousin living in Canada. It transpired that during the war, Uncle Pat had a relationship with a native Canadian women and this liaison had resulted in a son. I was somewhat flabbergasted as I had never heard of this cousin, despite the fact that Uncle Pat had financially supported him for most of his life. I received contact details and made some initial phone calls to advise details of our plans whilst in Vancouver. Our initial advice was that the son, also called Martin Mc Loughlin, was a Professor of Urology at University of British Columbia and was in fact a celebrity in Canada. He was often promoted as an example of how native Indians could succeed in the world.
In Vancouver we made arrangements to meet for dinner. Upon arrival we introduced ourselves and went to bar for a pre-dinner drink. I was absolutely astounded by Martin’s actions and speech. Bearing in mind that he had never met his father, his gestures, certain speech and his mannerisms, were exactly like his father. We sat down for dinner and shortly after Martin left the table to go to the toilet. I explained to his wife that the meeting was freaking me out as Martin was so much like his father in many ways. The next day we said our goodbye’s as we were off on the Rocky Mountaineer train trip.
Sometime after our return to Australia, Uncle Pat’s grandson came to Australia to visit him. This was without my brother’s, or my knowledge, and the meeting did not go well, despite us requesting that one of us be present at the meeting. The grandson left Australia without contacting my brother or myself. In an ironical twist Uncle Pat died of the disease that his son specialised in.