Street family draws strength from each other
Reliever thankful for mother's support during time after his father's death
SAN DIEGO -- For as long as Huston Street can remember, his mother was always the one to coddle, dote on, comfort and offer unwavering support to her sons no matter the time, place or circumstance.
Janie Street always considered this -- and still does, even if her boys are now grown -- to just be a part of being a mother.
But in the days after the unexpected death in September of her husband of 32 years, James Street, the former legendary University of Texas quarterback, there was a reversal of roles within the family.
"The first week was us trying to be strong for her. That was the first priority for us," said Huston, closer for the Padres.
"You know, when something like this happens, the shock of it all, you don't feel it right away. You don't know what to feel, how to feel. The only thing you move toward is what is tangible, what is there. And for me, that was my mom."
Even on days when he just doesn't feel like smiling, the thought of her boys surrounding her, comforting her, always makes Janie smile.
"Huston has really taken up that role and taken charge of everything," Janie said. "All of the boys did, but Huston came in right away, started in with [James'] business and took charge of everything. My heart really went out to Huston because he never took a break. It was non-stop.
"He has really been amazing. He's been a lifesaver."
Eventually, though, mom became mom again, offering her shoulder to her sons, just as she always had, just as she'll continue to do.
"Then, as we got further away from it, it was really cool to see how strong she was for all of us when we had our mini breakdowns or massive breakdowns," Huston said. "It was a carousel for a while, as one son after another going to the house, bawling our eyes out, sharing stories.
"She's one of the strongest people I've ever been around. She's so awesome and we're all very lucky."
On Sunday, Huston and Janie will celebrate not only their first Mother's Day without dad, but also Janie's mother, Doreen, who died at the age of 89 some 18 days before James died of a heart attack at home in Austin, two days after watching Huston pitch for the Padres.
The plan is for Janie to be at Petco Park on Sunday, accompanying Huston's wife, Lacey, and grandsons, Ryder and Ripken. It will be an emotional day, as Opening Day was in March, as Janie watched Huston earn a save in a victory over the Dodgers.
It was the first time Janie has watched Huston pitch without James by her side, gripping her hand tight.
"You know, as a mom, you're concerned about your sons. You're only human, not super human and my boys have really been my rock," Janie said. "It's amazing how much of my husband I see in them."
Janie and James were married for 32 years and together for 36 years. She missed his glory days at Texas, where in 1969, playing for coach Darrell Royal, he led the Longhorns to an unbeaten record and national title, an undersized quarterback running Royal's new wishbone offense to perfection.
People in Austin still talk about that 43-yard toss on fourth-down Street made to Randy Peschel in a 15-14 victory over Arkansas in a battle of unbeaten teams that season.
If you follow college football close enough, you've probably seen the photo of former President Lyndon Johnson shaking Street's hand after the Longhorns defeated Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl at the end of that season.
James was a larger than life figure, not only in Austin, but he was revered in the entire state of Texas.
"Everyone loved James," Janie Street said, proudly.
The last time James saw Huston pitch was during the season-ending series last September against the Giants in San Francisco. They visited Carmel, as they had so many years before, holding hands as they walked up and down Ocean Avenue. Later that trip, James and Janie took Huston to dinner following a game. They laughed all night.
Two days later, after returning to Austin, James was gone.
"We just had a great time," Janie said. "It was really an uncanny trip. I'm one of those who believe that everything happens for a reason. Even the kids felt like daddy's work was done."
But James' memory burns bright -- not just with Huston and Janie, but with James' sons, Jordon, Juston and Hanson as well as Ryan Street, James' son from a previous marriage.
"I have my days, some are good, some are not, but I always get through today," Janie said. "That's just how I handle it. There are some moments ... heck, moments every day that remind me of James. We were best friends. We were buddies.
"It's very hard for me to believe he's gone. I still feel like he's going to pop in one day."
Even now, some eight months after his father died, Huston still finds it difficult to talk about his father, much less his father and mother, their relationship and what they shared, what they meant to each other.
"It was one of those rough years in life that everyone eventually deals with at some point," Huston said. "But I'm really thankful in a lot of ways that we have such a strong family. And the bond I have with my mom has done nothing but get stronger."
Street, who is leaning up against the wall next to his locker in the Padres' clubhouse, stops and smiles.
"I think when things like this happen … you really realize how lucky you are to have people like that in your life and how lucky you are as a son," said Street, who wears No. 16 like James did during his days playing for Texas.
"I'm so thankful for my mom. She's always been so strong for all of us."