When anyone looks at this photo, they see just a flag and a final score on a high school football scoreboard.
When I look a this photo, I have tears in my eyes. It represents so much more for me.
It is full circle for our family:
This is Leland High School in San Jose. This stadium was renamed after Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan in 2004. He gave up a lucrative pro football career with the Arizona Cardinals to become an Army Ranger and serve. He gave his life in service for his country. He grew up in San Jose and went to Leland High School sporting the number 42 on his jersey.
Fast-forward to 2018—All three of my grandsons play football. My stepson played on this field and went on to college football. His wife’s father coached football on this field and now her brother coaches the Los Gatos High School JV team. I guess you could say we are a football family.
My older two grandsons are now playing football for Los Gatos High School. Ryan, a senior on varsity, and Adam a sophomore on Junior Varsity. My youngest, Scott, plays Pop Warner football.
Pat was their uncle.
This was the final score last Friday night for the JV game—almost eerie. Adam now wears his uncle’s number 42 in his honor. Both boys and their teams played their hearts out on this field and won their games that night.
It’s not just a score.
This photo is full circle for me:
A series of events took me to my bottom of drinking. Pat’s death was one of those events. I got sober soon after Pat’s death in 2004. Pat made a difference in his life by showing up for service. I realized by his death, that to make a difference, I had to start showing up for service in my life—sober. The flag and the scoreboard represent service, sacrifice, achievement, making a difference and hope for the future—My grandsons have never seen me drink. I get to show up sober for their lives. Death does not take me down any more, and I have experienced many deaths in my 14 years of sobriety.
Now I try to live my life as an example of hope—of how to walk the hard stuff, like death, in sobriety. I am not saying it’s easy, but now, I get to feel the pain and press through it without checking out.
If I can do it, so can you.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
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