Tears across many years Reunion: Thanks to several strangers, a Pasadena man gets to visit with a long-lost sibling he had thought was dead.

November 12, 1995|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Bill Langevin took his brother's hand for the first time in 20 years Friday and his tears began to flow.

"I can't help it, man," the 74-year-old Florida resident said. "I love you."

Bill and his brother, Frank Langevin, both of whom have prostate cancer, met in the Pasadena house of a friend who helped arrange the reunion.

"Hey, Bill. It's been a long time," said Frank, who can't stand up because the cancer has entered the bones in his feet.

"Hey, Frank. I love you," Bill replied.

Bill's voice choked up, and tears rolled down his face.

"Hey, Bill, it's OK," Frank said. The last time they saw each other, they were healthy, energetic men in their 50s. Then they lost contact with each other. Now, Frank, 71, of Pasadena is racked with cancer. Bill's cancer is in remission.

"It feels great," said Frank whose left arm was draped around his brother's shoulders. "He looks different, but he still looks great.

"He's the greatest thing to ever happen to me," said Bill through watery eyes. "He's my buddy, he's my brother."

Bill, of Ocala, Fla., said he almost didn't recognize Frank.

"If I had walked in here and nobody had said anything to me, I wouldn't have known him," he said. "Before, he had weight and he had hair."

Frank also noticed a difference in his brother.

"He's got a belly," Frank said.

Bill sat down next to his brother, and they reminisced about Bill's first meeting with his wife, Betty, and the couple's rancher in Florida with a swimming pool. They talked about old pictures Bill had sent to Frank when he learned his brother was alive, and about hair. Bill has more than Frank.

The reunion was made possible by several strangers who sacrificed time and money to bring the brothers together.

Debbie Cavanaugh, a home-care social worker for North Arundel Hospital, searched the country for Frank's relatives and found Bill in Florida.

Maureen Cavaiola, founder of Partners in Care, a volunteer service organization that aids disabled people living in their homes, raised the money -- sometimes dipping into the organization's annual budget -- for airline tickets for Bill and Betty to come to Pasadena.

And Lee Archibald, a Partners in Care volunteer, opened her home for the reunion and secured a vacant apartment for Bill and Betty to stay in until they leave Monday.

"I could have cried with them," Ms. Archibald said. "It's great that after all these years, they can manage to get together like this."

Mrs. Cavaiola said: "It's like a miracle. These are the things you remember."

And Mrs. Cavanaugh called the reunion "worth all the work, all of the trials and tribulations."

"It's not that often that a family gets a chance to come together and say hello and goodbye," she said.

Their effort did not go unappreciated.

"I love them," Bill Langevin said. "They're wonderful people."

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