Here is the email I received from one of them and it changed my whole day. I am very lucky to have him in my life for more reasons than I am sure they do not even know:
I was getting ready to post a message to Facebook yesterday (now that I am more willing to use the social networking stuff….)
And I realized that I had failed to respond to your Facebook photo/post on Father’s Day – and, for that, I apologize
That you would post for all the world to see (or at least all the Facebook folks) – that you consider me to have played a fatherly role is very humbling and gratifying
I should have replied immediately and on the Facebook site –for everyone to see how honored I was that you should consider me to have fulfilled an important role in your life.
I know that growing up with an absentee father was difficult for you – and formed some parts of the you that you became – in many ways.
One of my favorite memories is of helping you learn to ride a bicycle without training wheels – there were some anxious, frustrating moments, an argument or two, and maybe a small scrape – but you were determined – and succeeded - as you have in so many things through the years.
I wish you hadn’t had to grow up so quickly and take on many responsibilities that you got at an early age – but (as all the “cool” kids say) it is what it is/was - and you became all the better for it in the long run. (at least that is a good way to look back on it all now).
Although I was always away when you were growing up – either at college or on an Army assignment somewhere - I tried to make the most of the short interaction times I had with you during holidays or other visits to the Chicago area (and your brothers and sister and cousins no matter the then-current state of family dynamics) .
We share more than a birth month and the fact of being the youngest born child -
I see many similarities - a career devoted to serving others, a willingness to venture out on your own at a young age, a love of learning, a bit of a temper, a smidgen of stubborn-ness, and an strong independence.
I think I have told you before – and if not – another failure on my part
The day of your Master’s graduation – when I saw you enter the auditorium and take your seat – I was overwhelmed with pride – I literally could feel my heart rate rise and chest swell with pride.
Pride - For all that you have overcome in your lifetime - illnesses, familial situations, relationships, academic demands, external demands on your time, financial needs (and getting jobs to pay for what you needed and wanted)
Pride - For all that you have become - a wonderful person, a great wife, a outstanding teacher, a mentor and friend to many.