Joint funeral for identical twin brothers in Co Armagh

The funeral of Polish identical twins Waldemar and Krzysztop Kropidlowski (62) who died within hours of each other after getting a cancer diagnosis on same day. Picture by Mal McCann
Seanín Graham

THE funeral took place in Co Armagh yesterday for identical twin brothers who died just hours apart following a cancer diagnosis.

Waldemar and Krzysztop Kropidlowski, aged 62 and originally from Gdansk, moved to Lurgan eight years ago to be with their family.

The brothers learned they had cancer, on the same day and in the same ward, at Craigavon Area Hospital in September.

Mourners gathered at St Peter's Church in the town yesterday for the joint Requiem Mass which was celebrated in both English and Polish.

Krzysztop, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, died last Friday evening while his twin died the following morning after suffering from stomach cancer.

Waldemar's daugher, Beata, said the family were struggling to come to terms with the loss of a father and uncle.

"The Mass was very respectful and now they are gone. We are very sad," she said.

"My uncle Krzysztop was told he had breast cancer and two hours later we learned my dad had stomach cancer while they were being cared for in the same ward, even the hospital staff couldn't believe it," Beata said.

"We were told that treatment would not be an option for my dad but my uncle was given a bit more hope and returned home to his flat where he was doing okay. Two weeks before he died Krzysztop fell down the stairs and suffered bleeding to his brain. He was admitted to hospital and quickly went downhill.

"My uncle died last Friday after 5pm and my dad died the following morning shortly before 11am. It has come as such a shock as my dad hadn't been really that sick. They were very close and saw each other every day. They were just typical twins.

"My dad was cared for in the hospice in Newry who were fantastic and he later died at home. Since September me and my mother and two sisters were going between the hospice and Craigavon hospital and staying up all night with them. Marie Curie and our district nurse have helped us a lot.

"We are all devastated, the funeral is going to be very difficult."

Krzysztop, who lived on his own and worked in local factory, had a passion for pet snakes while his twin was obsessed with fishing and travelled round the north for three weeks every summer visiting the best fishing waters.

Both men often experienced pain if his sibling was ill, including a time when Krzysztop broke his arm while in a different city from Waldemar who then began to suffer shoulder pains.

"Another time my dad had a broken bone in his spine - my uncle rang him and told him to hurry up and get better as he couldn't sit down properly," added Beata.

"They were also very funny and had little quirks. My uncle loved his fashion and every morning visited the estate agent below his flat who helped him do his ties.

"There was a time in Poland when they hadn't seen eachother for a few months and met up to find they had both grown moustaches for the first time without the other knowing it."

Waldemar and his wife Halina, who had three daughters and four grand-children, were due to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary next year. Following his sudden diagnosis, he arranged for a celebration in a hotel in Donegal.

"That was the type of person my dad was, he was a gentleman."

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