i can't believe evan is a senior. i really can't. although we met evan & his family when we all lived in tulsa, we've really had the chance to get to know him over our last six years in hot springs, after our families moved here together at roughly the same time. evan and his family were the first in hot springs to come over and oooh and aaah over our girls the moment we brought them home. actually, i think they might have been waiting in the driveway both times! they are not only good friends, but good neighbors - they live directly behind us. we've literally passed babies back and forth over our fence a few times! evan was in sixth grade when we all moved here. he and his little brother, drew, supplied everyone with constant comic relief - they were (and are) hilarious together. one night when we were still fairly new to this town, evan's dad and my husband went on a business trip. his mom, kelli, invited me to watch oklahoma play in a bowl game. believe it or not, not many people here in razorback country were having sooner watch parties, so we heated some queso, opened a bottle of wine, and made the best of it. if you know kelli, you know that she doesn't hear very well - a fact her boys sometimes took a little advantage of. i realized that night that evan and drew had grown quite comfortable around me, as sometime before half-time, they began having a.......um......well, a bodily noises contest - boy style. at one point, kelli was watching the game, unaware of the "contest". she glanced over to find evan and drew doubled over on the couch, laughing hysterically, and me on the chair fighting to keep my composure! she smiled and said, "i'm sure i don't even want to know, right?" i just nodded my head. later that year, kelli drove the boys and i to little rock. kelli's bad ear is her right one, so when she's driving, she really can't hear anything, especially anything that's happening in the back of the s.u.v. where the boys were. evan and drew, two elementary school kids, proceeded to repeat larry the cable guy's routine verbatim from the blue collar comedy tour. i must admit, their delivery was spot-on and they really had me rolling. kelli kept looking over at me and saying, "are they behaving??" then, "boys! what are you all saying!!? you'd better behave yourselves!" making them (and me) laugh even harder. at one point she said with a big grin, "sometimes i think it might be a good thing i can't hear them!". we all laughed at that!
the very next year when evan was in 7th grade, something happened that would stop the laughter for a while. evan was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type II. benign tumors had developed on each acoustic nerve in his brain. this condition was familiar to the greenwoods, as kelli had received the same diagnosis a couple of years before, eventually resulting in her loss of hearing. a year later, when evan was an 8th grader, it became time to remove one of his tumors. to say that evan was brave during the time surrounding his surgery would be quite an understatement. he, an eighth grader, underwent brain surgery, and he did not complain. after this procedure that left him deaf in his left ear and nearly blind in his right eye, he did not complain. he didn't feel sorry for himself, and he didn't ask, "why me?". instead, he was practicing on the putting green one week later. what a testament to this kid's strength of character!
four years later, evan's determination to succeed despite the odds has definitely paid off. he recently accepted an academic/athletic scholarship and has earned a spot on the harding university golf team! it's been a blast watching evan grow from that funny sixth grade kid into an outstanding, mature young man. i cannot wait to see what the future holds for him. the ladukes are so proud of you, evan! you are quite an inspiration to us all, and you can still make us laugh!