What's it like being the dad of a rock star?
Aren't you proud of your son?
These are questions I have been getting a lot lately.
I cannot deny that it is pretty interesting and cool having a rock-star son.
And, yes, I am proud of Patrick, half of the blues-rock duo the Black Keys.
His journey has taken me and my wife, Katie Byard, to scores of shows across the country and even to Brighton, England, in October 2003 to see a BBC show emceed by the legendary John Peel.
And now the band has been nominated for four Grammys. The winners will be announced tonight.
But when I am asked these questions, I try to steer the conversation somewhere else.
The message I try to convey is that I am thrilled with all three of my sons because each one of them is following his dream, his passion, and each one is doing something he absolutely loves.
I, too, am lucky and blessed to have been able to do the same thing, to work at a profession that still gets me excited and keeps me engaged.
As an old-timer in the newsroom, I look forward to every day at the paper, seeing what the next story is that comes my way.
I have too short of an attention span to have gotten involved in work I did not absolutely love.
And that is the case with my three sons, all grown men now.
Each one was on a mission to do the work he chose.
Nothing could stop them.
My oldest son, Will, 33, was obsessed with railroads and trains before he was 5 years old. We used to chase trains together on weekends.
He began volunteering at the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad as a 13-year-old.
His entire family — me and my wife, Katie; his mom, Mary Stormer, my ex-wife, and her husband, Barry Stormer — encouraged him to go for it.
We drove him back and forth to Peninsula during his growing-up years to make it happen.
A month after high school, he left home to become a railroad man, and one year later, he was driving 100-car freight trains across western Ohio and into Michigan and Indiana, and loving it.
Today he is superintendent of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
My youngest son, Michael, 29, was an artist from the moment he could hold a crayon and pencil. He was always drawing.
All the people in his life encouraged him to draw.
We took him to art lessons and his grandmother, Gillian Brayshaw, an elementary school art teacher, worked with him when she visited us.
He was accepted into the Firestone High School Visual and Performing Arts program in ninth grade and took off from there.
His senior year, he got a partial scholarship to Columbus College of Art and Design and finished his degree in December 2004.
By the time he graduated, he was doing album art, T-shirts and posters for his brother Patrick's band, the Black Keys.
And all Patrick, 30, ever wanted to be, from as early as he began alphabetizing my vinyl record collection, was a musician, and to play in a rock 'n' roll band.
He played guitar in a multitude of bands with his friends, who often practiced in our basement. The bands were called Umbilical Horde, Towel, The Spy Band, The Deprogrammers, Example Figure 3 Chinaman and on and on.
He began recording music, got a drum kit in a trade of some instruments and soon was experimenting with the drums.
After high school, he went the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for two quarters studying photography and then spent a few years at the University of Akron, but his dream was still to play in a band.
One day in the winter of 2001-2002, Katie, my late father, Bill Carney, and I met at Gasoline Alley for dinner, where Patrick was working as a cook.
''I need to quit school,'' he said. ''I need to do music full time.''
He and Dan Auerbach, who grew up around the corner from us, had just finished what would be their first record as the Black Keys, and had sent The Big Come Up out to some record companies. One of the companies agreed to put the record out.
I told him I thought it would be good if he finished school. His sweet grandfather said he thought he should go for the music.
That was the end of Pat's UA career.
He and Dan worked on making the Black Keys into something full time. They mowed lawns to make ends meet until the band first went on a cross-country tour in July 2002.
Today in Los Angeles, he and Auerbach will be at the Grammys. Their band has been nominated for four awards.
And Michael, the artist, a graphic designer for American Eagle Outfitters in New York City, will be there, too. He has been nominated for a Grammy for best record packaging — the cover and artwork — for the Black Keys' latest album, Brothers.
Everybody in the family will be watching this momentous occasion. And, yes, it is thrilling and almost indescribable.
But to me, the greatest award is not something that will be announced at the Grammys tonight.
The best thing, the most meaningful gift ever, is what has already happened — seeing my sons doing what they love, seeing them all figure out how to make a life's work out of their passion, the thing that turns them on most of all.
There is nothing more a parent could ever hope for his children.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org.