I mustered up the courage to send Al my Torino newsletter and a few days later he wrote me this letter:
From: Al Izykowski
To: John Coyle
Sent: Wed, 22 Mar 2006 00:19:34 -0500
Subject: The Circle of Life
I am deeply touched and moved by your words and reaction. I am having a difficult time processing it all and I apologize for the delay in responding. After I read you e-mail I went up to Alex’s bedroom and looked at his bulletin board that holds only the most meaningful awards and memories of his childhood and skating career.
Pinned near the right border in a ziploc baggy is a drink napkin from Steamer’s Pub with your signature on it dated 1994, along with the picture of You with Alex and you Silver Medal. I then went to our Italy photos and found the picture of You with Alex and his Bronze Medal at the Budweiser House. I printed it off and returned to the bulletin board and carefully opened the bag, gently slid the new photo in, re-sealed the bag and pinned it back in the exact same hole.
I stepped back and contemplated the many things that had to have taken place in so many people’s lives in order for those two photos to be in that bag together, hanging on a bulletin board in a boy’s bedroom where he only dreamed of such success. As I stood and stared I was overwhelmed by emotion as I again attempted to comprehend the awesome unifying power of the Olympic Games and values. Thank you for sharing your success with us 12 years ago and thank you for including Alex (and me) in this circle of success 12 years later.
My mom died when I was just 14, and my dad died on the same day 4 years later when I was 18. Alex was born 2 years later when I was just 20 and still playing college football. Many thought it was a bad thing. I of course never did. I have always looked at that boy with the same sparkle in my eye as the one I see in your eye when you look at your little girl. Alex’s mom and I have beaten the odds and stayed together since we were 15 years old without screwing up our kids lives. He has taken us to places we imagined existed only for others, and has lead us to quality people like yourself whom we can now call a friend. You bet I feel proud, but then again I have felt proud every step of the way knowing that we were all doing the best we could. It is very difficult for me to get my head around the idea that something I said somehow had a profound impact on you, but I am very flattered that you felt compelled to write us into your Torino Journal. Just remember that it all started from you, I was just the lucky messenger who reminded you of your actions and what they meant to a little boy with stars in his eyes.
I guess you never know what role you may play in someone’s life or just how important the things you choose to do or say or choose not to do or say may turn out to be. I contemplated quite a bit over whether or not to have those words with you at the Huntsmen fearing I might be dismissed as a typical over zealous parent. Well, needless to say I am glad I took what felt like a risk at the time and approached you.
I didn’t intend to write this much at this sitting so I guess I will stop here. I apologize if I am rambling on incoherently…I am really struggling with all the emotions of the past few months. Then, reading your words was so unexpected you really caught me off gaurd and got me to thinking about all kinds of things…good things of course, but it kind of drains you emotionally.
“All the best” (that is how you signed the napkin) to you and your girls until we meet again. Thanks for your indulgence. Sincerely,Al Izykowski