It's hard to believe that nearly two decades have passed since I came out to you as a gay man. I didn't foresee that you would react by severing all communication between us. So much has happened since that day, and sadly, you haven't been around to see it.
You've missed the "Worst of Times," when I really needed you. I called from the hospital room after my partner passed away in 1996 and asked you to come to the funeral. You said "Sorry, I'm not able."
But you've also missed the "Best of Times," when I simply wanted you. Two years after Michael's death, I fell in love with Gary - a wonderful deaf man who is a gifted teacher. I learned American Sign Language and together we adopted three kids.
Niko is sixteen, takes his studies quite seriously, and consistently makes the honor roll. Last year he was doing math calculations that would make your head spin. This fall, he wants to play high school football and he is almost as passionate about that sport as you are. Name a team and, like you, he will probably be able to tell you who plays each position in the starting line-up.
Trei is ten and has a great sense of humor with an unrelenting silly streak. He shares your interest in American history and recently studied Abraham Lincoln at school. Yesterday, he won first place in his freestyle heat at the swim meet. You should have seen his face glow with pride when he was handed the blue ribbon.
Jolé is nine and is clearly the little princess in our home. She is into fashion and thinks she might want to be a vet when she grows up. I spent much of the last year taking her to museums for an ongoing class project. We saw an exhibit on Pearl Harbor and my memory flashed to your stories about listening as granddad recalled the day the Japanese attacked.
As a father myself, I can't help but think about what a tremendous loss it is that you don't know Niko, Trei, and Jolé. They would embrace you instantly.
The irony is that your inability to love me for who I am is part of the reason that I am able to love my family for exactly who they are. I know how painful it is to be rejected just for being different. So in my home, we cherish the differences. Deaf or hearing, Chinese or Hispanic, gay or straight - doesn't really matter. From our perspective, it's all just one big blessing and we give thanks for it everyday.
I grieved your loss many years ago, and then moved on. But I guess a part of me will always hope for a miracle - that someday, somehow, we will reconnect as father and son. No matter what happens, know that I still love you and I always will.
Happy Father's Day Dad.