The CNN anchor tells PEOPLE “it’s lovely to see this cycle of life and of love”
When Anderson Cooper watches his young sons at play, he’s often reminded of his late brother, Carter.
“Just to see their relationship, it’s incredible,” Cooper, 56, says of Wyatt, 3, and 19-month-old Sebastian in the new issue of PEOPLE.
In fact, Cooper’s sons play with the same toys that the journalist and his older sibling once used.
“I recently found wooden blocks that my brother and I played with,” says Cooper, who is raising the boys with his friend and ex-partner, Benjamin Maisani. “That was a big toy for us.”
“They’ve got all these markings on them—we drew robots on them and stuff,” he continues. “And so now to see Wyatt playing with those and building things, it's crazy.”
Sebastian, for his part, uses a box that Cooper made in the first grade. “I remember making this box. And now Sebastian has it and puts books in it and stuff,” he says.
“It’s lovely to see this cycle of life and of love and how all these things sort of repeat,” Cooper adds. “They are playing the same games I played as a kid and inventing new games. And I just have this incredible sense of wonder about that and witnessing that up close.”
Carter died by suicide at age 23 in 1988, ten years after his father, author Wyatt Cooper, succumbed to a heart attack. Cooper’s mother, socialite and designer Gloria Vanderbilt, died at 95 in 2019.
As the sole survivor of his immediate family, Cooper is taking the time to go through his family’s belongings, organizing and digitizing photos and letters, so his boys will have a strong sense of their family history.
“Whenever in life they are interested in learning and looking at it, it'll be there,” says Cooper.
Sorting through the personal items has been a deeply affecting process for the journalist.
“For me, it's so fraught with memory and emotions and stuff,” he says. “You find a box of Christmas cards from, I don't know, 1984, and you think, ‘Oh, I can just toss these.’ And you start to read them.”
“There's letters from Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra telegrams and Charlie Chaplin's Christmas cards. I didn't know Charlie Chaplin sent Christmas cards. Nobody did,” he says.
Cooper will have everything organized for his sons, should they want to learn more in the future. “I liked the idea of creating this record if they’re interested. And if they’re not interested, that's fine too. I don't want them to feel weighted down by the past,” he says.
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Read the original article on People.