I remember the day that young Jesse was born, two months premature as I mentioned earlier, and one of the nurses told me, "Hold on tight, don't drop him," when I held that little guy for the first time. I remember saying, "There is no way that I will ever let go of this little man." That has been the truth pretty much from the jump, and even though I've gotten on his nerves plenty- I've been holding on since that day. It's been one hell of a ride let me tell you. I've embarrassed him with Guns-n-Roses up at the schoolhouse, and once told the nice lady that was going to cut his hair, "No, I don't need a haircut, we're here for my son" after she said, "There's a cute boy here to get his hair cut." The boy is my hero, and he continues to prove this fact every single day!
I could write an entire book on his athletic exploits, but I won't do that. I'll let him tell those stories one day, and hopefully his war stories won't be as boring as mine- have I ever mentioned my fumble recovery that resulted in a 50 yard touchdown against Pleasant Grove in 1989 or that a Quarterback sack highlight of mine made the TV once. Sorry, I'll proceed. One of my fondest memories was watching young Jesse hit his first ever homerun around the age of 6 for the 5-6 year old Mt. Olive White Boys. I know it's a funny name, but we had three teams in the park that year, and our team was the white team, as in color (the others were blue, and gray)- thus white boys. Back to the homerun. It was a blistering line drive that almost decapitated the poor 2nd Baseman. Jesse literally flew around the bases I think. He doesn't get the nickname "Flash" for nothing. I was screaming with everything that I was worth! Hollering "RUN!!!" at the top of my lungs! I'm kind of a loud guy anyway, and I have patented a certain volume of my voice that I have dubbed, "Police chasing derelict level," and if my screams were measured on that scale it would have hit 11 out of 10. I didn't realize it at the time, but folks were staring more at me having a screaming fit than Jesse running around the bases. Regardless, that was the start of what has become the beautiful symphony of watching Jesse play baseball. He can make a routine play look fantastic, and he always gives you everything he has in the tank. He leaves it all on the field every time. Many days of fun and absolute joy have been spent at the ballpark, and that has been a blessing. Like my father before me, and I'm sure when Jesse becomes a father down the road, wayyyy down the road. I ain't ready for all the Grandpa stuff just yet, but I digress. There is something really special about fathers and sons spending time together learning a great game like baseball, and the most important thing is that it's not really about baseball at all.
Jesse is quite the student too, and to be honest that is much more important than anything he could ever accomplish athletically. He's actually helped his old man out from time to time with math and science, and I am grateful that he has obviously taken after his mother Dr. Cheryl in that respect. I suppose he gets his brains from her and his looks from me......wait for it....yep Cheryl just hit me in her mind. He is also the kind of kid that will turn himself in for talking in the lunch room when it's supposed to be a "silent lunch." Now, I'm a little out of touch these days, but what in the heck is that? Isn't a "Silent lunch" an oxymoron or something, maybe a double negative. How in the world can a bunch of kids and adults sit in a lunch room, eat lunch, and not speak. Have we lost the art of the spoken word these days, not to mention social skills. It is what it is I reckon, or maybe it ain't what it ain't. I'm confused. Regardless, Jesse is one smart cookie, and he has always done very well in school. The one thing that I am most proud of is that Jesse has done everything on his own. We help with giving him a direction, but the execution of whatever activity it may be is all up to him. He has performed at an elite level, and that's a fact! I can still fool him with the old "I accidentally left Maddie at home trick," though. Got him good on that one. He truly believed that I had left my poor sweet daughter at home all alone when I turned around and saw an empty car seat. She was with her mother that day, but I thought I would have a little fun with Jesse. Turned out to be too much fun, Jesse was screaming, "No, Dad! What?!?!? We have to go and save her!" Sweet kid.
I've read stories about heroes and legends while studying history, and some of the stories are pretty good. However, I've come across a real hero. A young man who has saved my life, and due to his influence I have become the man I am today. No doubt about it. When Jesse came along I was going through some pretty rough patches in my life. Losing loved ones and not really knowing how to deal with it. Jesse and his mother were the proverbial silver lining in my dark cloud, and what sustained me in my times of trouble. (Quick side note, I haven't mentioned Maddie, because she wasn't around at that time, and since her birth she has become a heroine all her own. Another story for another time.) Since that amazing day in May when that little fellow (all 3 lbs of him) came into this world, all I have to do is look into those beautiful blue eyes of his and I know that miracles happen every day. My only hope is that I can be half as a good a father to him, as he has been a son to me. Second to none. Top notch. I'm not just saying that because he can steal home like Jackie Robinson. Jesse don't need no stinking past balls. He steals it all legit like. He is not only a thief of bases, but he is a thief of hearts. He stole mine a long time ago, and that's the bottom line cause PerryDawg said so! I love you J-Jam! Happy Birthday! I can't wait to see what your next act is going to be. I know you will be a champ. Just like always.