DEAR ABBY: While I was growing up, my mother was married several times. Unfortunately, over the years I lost contact with my stepfathers. Every year around the holidays, I think back with fondness on these men who shaped my life. I wish I could tell each of them that their presence, however brief, had a lasting effect on me.
To the bank manager I would ascribe my own successful career in banking.
The one who insisted that I eat my vegetables would be amazed to learn that I've become a vegetarian.
I would say to the hard worker who juggled two jobs to support us, that by his example, he instilled a strong work ethic in me.
My biological dad would be thanked for many things, not the least being his faithfulness. He sent the child support checks for 15 years without fail for a child across the country he was barely allowed to know. I always knew he cared.
I feel lucky to have learned so many things from such fine men. -- GRATEFUL TO ALL MY DADS
DEAR GRATEFUL: If childhood is a learning experience, yours was not wasted. I'm printing your letter of gratitude as a reminder for fathers, both absent and present, that children are taught by the examples the adults in their lives have set for them.