Although the children were raised well by step-fathers, he knew they shared his blood. He saw his likeness in their faces and watched them grow when his path took him through their separate towns.
Amazingly the two boys ended up attending the same college and grew to be best friends. One day he sat on a bench outside a building at the university and saw them exiting together after class. "It was like looking into a mirror of me in my past," he said. "I couldn't believe that the two young men didn't know they were brothers." Then again, maybe something special drew them together and they shared common interests.
He never got to shoot hoops with them or teach them to play the saxophone like his dad had done with him. Unknowingly, they probably grew up listening to his music and admiring his talent, eventually seeing him on TV and even possibly in a movie.
In some cases, men like these were wonderful, unselfish fathers who missed out on the joys of participating in their children's lives. Instead this one followed in his father's shoes, playing music throughout his life. Eventually his talent and many moments of serendipity led to a life on the road, to special places representing his country in an Army band and on to a successful, professional career. The baritone saxophones he owned were his children; his bandmates his family.
Telling this story, staring off into the past, tears formed in his eyes. Living as a musician has its rewards. It also has its sacrifices.