The letter, which arrived just days after the couple celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, couldn't have been more welcome.
They talked often about their sons. Wondered how they were doing. Were they doctors or lawyers? Were they punks or in jail? Did they love music?
Pete and Evie even thought about trying to find the boys, but decided it wouldn't be fair to the families that had adopted them. For years, they tried to have more children to raise on their own, but Evie was never able to get pregnant again. They saw the letter from Mark and David as a second chance.
Evie picked up the phone. When David answered, Evie's nervous voice cracked.
"We've been waiting for this letter all our lives," she said.
Weeks later, David, Mark and their wives went to Arizona for a weekend to meet Pete and Evie. At first, the conversation was awkward. They exchanged stories about their lives. Evie brought out baby photos she kept of the boys and cried as she told them about her decision to give them up for adoption. David and Pete bonded over their shared interest in country music.
Pete took out a scrapbook with pictures of him with Johnny Cash, Reba McEntire and other musicians. Staring back from one of the photos was a face David immediately recognized.
Pete said it was the face of his friend JayDee Maness, "the best steel guitar player in the world." David agreed. He had recently hired Maness to do session work on his CD.
David enjoyed the visit. He had satisfied his curiosity about his roots. He felt invigorated in his musical pursuits after learning about Pete's career.
But he also had the unsettling feeling that the emotional stakes were greater than he had anticipated. He could tell that Pete and Evie hoped for a tighter family bond by which they could become integral parts of their sons' lives as parents and as grandparents to Mark's two children.
David, however, wasn't looking to replace his family with a new one. He loved his adoptive mother and knew that she loved him. And he knew that his quest was causing her heartache, though she didn't say so.
David also saw that his brother had bottled up resentment, especially toward Pete, whom he blamed for failing to take responsibility for the boys and allowing them to be adopted.
In a telephone call shortly after their first meeting, Mark angrily told Pete precisely what he thought. After he hung up the phone, a shaken Pete had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital.
Hours before showtime at the VFW, Pete and David strummed guitars on the back porch of Pete and Evie's desert home. They played Harlan Howard's "Heartache by the Numbers" and a few other country classics. Pete shared a couple of songs he'd written over his career. His voice was a bit raspy from years of smoking, but David was impressed with the lyrics and melody.
Likewise, Pete admired his son's talent. He spent several days listening to David's CD, charting all the chord changes for his band the Good Ol Boys.
Before meeting David, Pete had given up the guitar and retired from music. David's emergence in his life, however, reignited Pete's passion for playing.
His heart attack caused both parents and sons to reevaluate their expectations. Mark became more accepting of Pete and Evie's actions and recently grew closer to his own adoptive father. David understands their desire to establish a bond. And Pete and Evie realize that building any sort of relationship with their boys is going to take time.
Still, Pete and Evie have a hard time containing their joy at getting to know their sons. At the VFW that night, they made sure friends and relatives were there to see father and son take the stage.
"I couldn't be prouder," a grinning Pete said after the show. "I couldn't be prouder."
For David, the whole thing was an almost out-of-body experience. He smiled and posed for pictures with folks who embraced him like the long lost relative he was.
Driving back to his hotel after the show, David reflected on his search for his roots and its unexpected consequences.
"Once you start walking down a road like this it's hard to stop," he said. "You can't manufacture a family out of thin air, and there is pressure to build relationships that weren't there before."
But he doesn't regret it.
"It's mind-boggling the paths your life takes," he said. "All of our lives could have been so different in many ways."