Brothers’ Reunion, Part 2

Bob Corriston, Leland

Bob and his wife concentrated on working and raising a family of their own. Life was moving along well for the established family until 1991. Their son, Douglas, came down with what was thought to be the flu the week before Thanksgiving.  Two weeks later he was rushed to the hospital and was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  Nineteen hours later, the family was mourning his death.  

Douglas’ death shattered the family, but what got them through was the outpouring of support from their friends, family, community and Douglas’ classmates at Hasbrouck Heights High School.  “We had a lot of people to comfort us,” Bob said. “Rows of kids walked to the church after class to pay their respects, and the school lowered the flag to half-mast.” A tree now stands on the grounds of the high school alongside a bench dedicated to Douglas’ memory.

Two years after their son’s death, Bob and Mary Margaret were asked by the Newark Archdiocese Family Life Center to start a support group for parents grieving the loss of a child.  The group is now called “HOPE” (Helping Other Parents Endure).  They were also involved in raising money for research for the cure of leukemia.

One month after Douglas died, Bob’s sister died unexpectedly.  With two major losses in his family, Bob was now more determined than ever to reconnect with his brother. He resumed his search of many years and with his computer and the newly installed Optimum program, it was much easier than ever before.  His search took him across the country. He found the name Richard Corriston in Colorado.  When Bob called Richard, it was the first conversation that the brothers had had in 45 years. 

With the use of frequent flier miles, Bob traveled across the country to meet his brother. When he arrived at the airport in Denver, Colorado, he went looking in the baggage area for his brother, whom he hadn’t seen in over 45 years. Bob said to himself, “I am looking for a nine-year-old boy.” Fortunately, both of them had cell phones. He called his brother and said, “I am in the baggage area wearing a Giants baseball cap.” Richard said, “I am right behind you.”  Needless to say, it was a tearful reunion.

While in Colorado, the brothers decided they wanted to find some way to help people like themselves. “We wanted to give people who had given up on life hope,” Bob said. 

When Bob got back to New Jersey, he wrote a letter to Optimum Online with his story. Fifteen months later he got a call from the marketing department saying that they wanted to film a commercial.  “We received no residuals when the commercial was shown.  Just having my brother and sister-in-law flown in was more than enough compensation.”

They filmed for twelve hours what could have been considered a documentary. They shot in Newark where their old house had been knocked down, in Kearny at their old apartment, and in Hasbrouck Heights at Bob’s home. They ended the commercial at the grave of their parents, where the brothers made peace with their father. They said, “Dad, you messed up, but we are here together.  WE FORGIVE YOU!”