|Jennie and me shortly after we moved to Roanoke in 1972. This is on the Parkway.|
|Toddler Evan and me in 1975, Summit Hills, Roanoke.|
|Evan and Jennie playing in 1975. She's 8, he's 1 or so.|
|Jennie leans on her dad during a mid-'70s softball game.|
|One of my favorite photos of the kids (and their dog Daisy, center distance).|
|The responsible Miss Jennie cradles her little brother.|
|Evan's learning to walk; Jennie's his cheerleader.|
|Me with newbie Evan and his mother, Chris.|
|Evan and me on the front steps.|
That does not mean every minute they were kids and I was Dad was a bad minute. There were times when I was lucid, attentive, caring and, well, a pretty good guy. But they rarely lasted before I lapsed. They both grew through it, Jennie probably getting the worst of it. I got sober when Evan was in high school and have been trying to compensate for years.
It took Jennie a while to come around ("You'll pardon me if I'm skeptical," she once said at my announcement of impending sobriety), but now we're close, like I always wanted. I've always adored that girl (woman, now) and the firstborn is always special in a way that nobody else can be. In the last eight years, Evan and his wife Kara, have presented me with two grandkids. I remember telling both of my kids that if they had children before I was 50, they weren't mine. I just wasn't ready. The grands came when I was fully ready and I've thoroughly enjoyed every minute of being part of their lives, especially Madeline's (as you probably know, if you've been paying attention).
So, I will thank god, my teammates, my coaches, my kids and everybody else who had anything to do with me finally growing up, ditching the booze and getting to the rewarding part of life: loving my good kids and good grandkids.