247 – Jeff Seitzer of Chicago, An Author & Father of 2 Including a Son With Special Healthcare Needs Who Tragically Passed At 9
Our guest this week is Jeff Seitzer of Chicago, IL.
Jeff and his wife, Janet, have been married for 33 years and are the proud parents of two children; Penelope (16) and Ethan, who had many special healthcare needs and who tragically passed away in a drowning accident, at age nine in 2010.
Jeff earned a Ph.D in political science from the University of Chicago. He has over a quarter century of teaching experience in the Chicago area. He is currently, the secretary of the adjunct faculty union at Roosevelt University where he is a highly qualified organizer, manager, and editor. Jeff is also the author and translator of numerous works on law and philosophy.
He is also author of memoir entitled: “The Fun Master: A Father’s Journey of Love, Loss and Learning to Live One Day At a Time.”
The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project produced a documentary entitled: “Danger Amidst The Beauty: The Ethan Seitzer Story,” based on his memoir The Fun Master.
We’ll hear Jeff’s poignant story on this week’s Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast.
Show Links –
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Website – https://jeffreyseitzer.com/
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeff-seitzer-2425a715/
Danger Amidst The Beauty (A Documentary) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzI2HlI7wh0
Tom Couch: Special thanks to Horizon Therapeutics for sponsoring the Special Fathers Network Dad To Dad Podcast working tirelessly to research, develop, and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic diseases. Discover more about Horizon Therapeutics’ mission at HorizonTherapeutics.com.
Jeff Seitzer: Everyone struggles as a parent. And of course you, you’d know this, if your child has special health challenges or developmental challenges, you have to find ways to address these and maybe they don’t always work and medication isn’t working. There’s all sorts of ways in which you are struggling.
But it kept me from looking over at other people. I think well, they’ve got it better.
Tom Couch: That’s our guest this week, Jeff Seitzer. Jeff is a father, career educator and author of the book, “Fun Master: A Father’s Journey of Love, Loss, and Learning to Live One Day at a Time”. Jeff has two children, Penelope 16, and Ethan, who sadly passed away at age nine in 2010.
We’ll hear about Jeff’s family this week on the Special Fathers Network Dad To Dad Podcast. Say hello now to our host, David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: Hi, and thanks for listening to the Dad To Dad Podcast, fathers mentoring fathers of children with special needs, presented by the Special Fathers Network.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support dads. To find out more, go to 21stCenturyDads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we’d be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to facebook.com, groups, and search “dad to dad”.
Tom Couch: So let’s listen now to this conversation between Jeff Seitzer and David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: I’m thrilled to be talking today with Jeff Seitzer of Chicago, who’s a career educator, author, and stay-at-home father of two. Jeff, thank you for taking the time to do a podcast interview for the Special Fathers Network.
Jeff Seitzer: I’m delighted to be here. Thank you for having me.
David Hirsch: You and your wife Janet, have been married for 33 years and are the proud parents of Penelope 16, and Ethan, who very sadly passed away at age nine in 2010.
Let’s start with some background. Where did you grow up? Tell me something about your family.
Jeff Seitzer: I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. Turns out I grew up in a neighborhood much like the one I live in now, interestingly. And it was a very lively neighborhood, very close-knit. Families all knew each other, the neighbors. We did a lot together. It was a simpler time and way, you just went to the local school, then you went to the next one, and you went to the next one. Not as complicated as is today, in a lot of ways. I really loved it there in Nebraska, but I ventured out to for educational purposes and ended up in Chicago.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Let’s go back before we jump into Chicago. My recollection was you had some challenges as a youth yourself and I’m wondering if you can reflect on that.
Jeff Seitzer: Yeah. I had a very bad case of mumps when I was about four. And it caused swelling in the brain, encephalitis, which produced very severe residual effects.
For a couple years I had seizures and partial paralysis, and I’d have these wild mood swings. When I was in high school, someone came up to me and said, I grew up in your neighborhood and my parents and I used to watch you running across the neighborhood with your grandparents and your mom and other people chasing me.
Cause I would just hop up and run. I was out of control. And so it took about two and a half years to get through that phase, and I spent those years mostly in Chicago, a good part of the time in Chicago getting treatment. I had to reenter childhood, a little bit unprepared, I hadn’t really had the normal childhood experience for a couple years.
And that was, difficult in a lot of ways.
David Hirsch: Thanks for sharing. So that was your first experience in Chicago as a youth?
Jeff Seitzer: Yeah.
David Hirsch: And then you grew up in Omaha, from what I remember.
Jeff Seitzer: Yes, I did. Yeah. And then I came back to Omaha and went to all the way through high school and then got my bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of Nebraska. So I’m a Cornhusker.
David Hirsch: Okay.
Jeff Seitzer: Yeah.
David Hirsch: So I’m curious to know, what did your dad do for a living?
Jeff Seitzer: He was in advertising. He was a very creative person, had an extraordinarily great sense of humor, very kind and deeply interested in people. When he was around you, you felt like you were the only person there and really connected well with people. Exceptional person, really.
David Hirsch: And I’m curious to know, how would you describe your relationship with your dad?
Jeff Seitzer: I thought it was really good. When I was very small, like up until I was eight or 10, I used to go around with him a lot. He’d go and have to look at proofs and he’d be working on things with artists, et cetera. And I’d go along with him. We would talk a lot. And, he did a lot of things, like he coached me in softball and I thought he was really a wonderful father.
David Hirsch: When you think about your dad are there any takeaways, a story, something that you’ve tried to incorporate into your own fathering that you’re trying to emulate?
Jeff Seitzer: I think that I always got the feeling from him that even though I was not ideal as a kid, high school, I was wild and had other problems. He really loved me and accepted me, which didn’t mean that he wouldn’t say if he thought that I was on the wrong course. But you can always feel that love. And that’s what I’ve tried to emulate too, to be accepting and, but it doesn’t mean you can’t set limits. The love helps people accept those limits, kids. And that’s something I’ve learned as a teacher too, actually.
David Hirsch: Yeah. I think what I hear you saying, if I can paraphrase, is thatif you were rigid about your views of the world, it would be hard to be inclusive and accepting. And it sounded like your dad was very open-minded from that perspective and might have had some views of his own, but could appreciate the differences between you and your siblings.
Jeff Seitzer: Yeah, there were four of us and each of us were quite different. Both my parents sensed that, you had to have a kind of a separate relationship with each one. They had different needs and different personalities, and that’s quite a task to be able to do that. And I admire them for that. They did quite well.
David Hirsch: That’s terrific. I’m thinking about other father figures and I’m wondering what, if any role your grandfather’s played first on your dad’s side and then on your mom’s side.
Jeff Seitzer: My dad’s side of the family my grandfather was this wonderful person. He never owned a car. He like walked everywhere and took the bus. And then later I learned about him that, my dad had always talked about Seitzer’s Island in the Missouri River, and he described it as a big party place. They just go out there and spend a day. But it turns out my great-grandfather, a tree fell into the river in 1883 and within a year an island formed. So he tied some mules to a rowboat and rode out with a bunch of supplies and claimed it, and it became Seitzer’s Island. He gained title to it and he’d have to fight off criminal gangs that would try and set up there.
Because my dad said, yeah, there’d be prize fights there, and there was a still there, but he, I think he was referring to like these criminal gangs. But my grandfather, who was such a gentle person, he and his brothers would go out there and they’d have to fight these people off, and so he is like a very humble person.
You had the sense that he was there was a toughness there. But he was very kind and we used to have great talks. It was really great knowing him. And he also was great with me cuz my older brother would always try and exploit me. Like we had a paper out and my brother got most of the money and he said you should be getting paid for all I do the work for him. So I appreciated that in him, he had a sense of fairness.
David Hirsch: A sense of justice. Yeah. So is it still known as Seitzer’s Island Island today?
Jeff Seitzer: I looked. There’s an article in the 1926 Des Moines Register about it. A really long feature story because that year my dad’s family gave the, what was an island, it joined Iowa eventually to a philanthropist who established a bird sanctuary. It’s called the Gifford Sanctuary now. But I saw a map on Google. I looked at, there’s this park district map and there’s the Missouri River. In the middle of it, it says Seitzer’s Island, this giant island. It was really quite large. It was 880 square acres. So it was quite significant.
David Hirsch: Okay. Thanks for sharing. Very interesting. I’m wondering if there’s any other individuals, men who played an important role in your life.
Jeff Seitzer: My other grandfather was also a remarkable person. He had to drop outta school in eighth grade. He didn’t really have much formal education. He had a kind of a rough edge, but he spent a lot of time with us. He showed me how to do things like change a bike tire, he would take us fishing and also for unannounced forced haircuts, which he didn’t appreciate. I thought his hair was too long.
So he did have a little bit of an edge, but he was really, pretty involved in our lives. They lived six blocks away. I used to ride my bike over there as a little kid, and have lunch and talk to them and stuff. So it was nice having them so close.
David Hirsch: Gotcha. So anybody else? Any uncles that come to mind that played an influential role?
Jeff Seitzer: Yeah. My mom’s brother was very involved in our lives. He owned a bunch of houses. Yeah. He’d have us over there. We’re over there and we’d work on things and we made money. And then he’d take us to play golf, a couple holes of golf. He taught us how to play golf and tennis too. Then we’d go and get hot dogs or something at a local bar.
And so we have wonderful experiences with him. He’d take us swimming, and he’d take us like boating and things like that. He was very involved in our lives and he told me that later, after my parents died rather young. And he did say, I’m kinda like your parent too. And it was really true.
Very active person. I Both sides of my family, they’re all very active, always doing things. It was a nice influence, I felt.
David Hirsch: Wonderful. So let’s reflect on your education. You’d already mentioned that you took an undergrad and master’s degree from the University of Nebraska. And then I remember you went on to get your PhD in Political Science and Government at the University of Chicago.
Jeff Seitzer: Yes.
David Hirsch: And I’m wondering, when you had started or completed your first round or two of education, where was it that you thought your career was gonna take you.
Jeff Seitzer: When I got done with the University of Chicago, my, I went and looked at some places to, job interviews and my wife and I were both like, we just really love Chicago. So we decided to stay in Chicago and that kind of, limited me in terms of a career and then especially since I took over the care of our son.
David Hirsch: So you’ve been an educator for a good amount of your career in a lot of different schools or universities. So I’m curious to know how did you and Janet meet?
Jeff Seitzer: We were both at the University of Chicago. I had known a couple of her fellow college friends right there at the University of Chicago before I met her. I met her through them. So it came with references. And we had a very quick romance and married rather quickly actually like within 11 months after meeting.
David Hirsch: Oh, wow.
Jeff Seitzer: Yeah. Why wait around, right?
David Hirsch: Is it fair to say that you took more away from the University of Chicago than the average PhD student then?
Jeff Seitzer: Yeah. The thing is I just found it to be a very stimulating place and I found good people to hang around with and of course you’re right on the lake there. You’ve got the Promontory Point, which is just a miraculous place. It was a WPA project and juts out into the lake. It’s really beautiful if you’ve ever been there and so I felt very fortunate to be there.
David Hirsch: Yeah, we got the Museum of Science and Industry right south there. Yeah. And it was the centerpiece for the World’s Fair back in 1893.
Jeff Seitzer: Yeah.
David Hirsch: So there’s a lot of rich history there.
Jeff Seitzer: There is indeed. Yeah.
David Hirsch: So let’s switch gears and talk about special needs first on a personal basis and then a little bit beyond. So I’m curious to know, before Ethan’s diagnosis, did you or Janet have any exposure to the world of special needs?
Jeff Seitzer: I, myself, because first of all, coping with encephalitis was really a struggle as a kid. And now people know about HD and there’s other, some of my side effects, like for example, one, one residual effect is I have poor auditory memory, so when I was really young, I would forget, like things the teacher said, which would get me in trouble until I could write. And then that’s when I started taking a lot of notes.
And but then when I was about 13, I was diagnosed with another condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which is a peripheral neuropathy. Wasn’t a lot known about it then. But I was diagnosed with a severe form and my grandfather had it, my mom had it, and they both were pretty hobbled.
And so I, the doctor at orthopedist prescribed braces, so I was wearing braces through junior high and high school and into college. Metal braces. They’re really clunky things, and it turns out I learned much later, that was a mistake, that my condition is rather mild and… But nonetheless, it was a challenge to cope with the residual effects of encephalitis when you have this degeneration in your legs. I had to like, keep my legs strong but I had to keep, I, they couldn’t be worn down, so I developed really elaborate mental and physical disciplines to cope with these conditions together.
And I cursed it at the time for a very long time. But I did, I do think it helped me a little bit as a caregiver. Because I could, I was very used to kinda like carving up my day and finding time to do what I wanted, even though I had to like exercise over two hours a day just to sit still. And even today I’m like that. I probably exercised two hours today already. And but, so I am a special needs person myself. Yeah.
David Hirsch: Okay. That’s a unique experience. Most parents would say, no, or not very much. They were aware of some people with special needs, but they certainly wouldn’t have had the special needs experience themselves or in their direct family.
Jeff Seitzer: It’s kinda a new era because you can get to know people. In my time, the only people I knew with CMT was my grandfather and my mom. But now there’s these networks and they have, of course Zoom helps a lot, but you have like conventions and meeting other people and share, and they share their stories and you realize, you get ideas from them. The loneliness was really hard, I think.
David Hirsch: I think that’s one of the big changes over the last generation or two as it relates to individuals with special needs. The, there’s still some isolation. It’s still pretty challenging, but much less so than there was a generation or two ago.
Jeff Seitzer: Yeah.
David Hirsch: I know that there was a shame, a higher level of shame that went along with raising a child or having a family member with differences or special needs, right? That I think some parents didn’t want to be in public or be seen in public and, before public education for all people especially making special accommodations for people with differences came about, the world was totally different. There was not a place in a traditional school environment for somebody who was handicapped. So thank you for emphasizing that.
Jeff Seitzer: Yeah.
David Hirsch: So what was Ethan’s diagnosis and how did it come about?
Jeff Seitzer: We everyone, including his doctors, were completely surprised when he was born. He had a condition called tracheoesophageal fistula, and esophageal atresia. And that took a long time to learn how to say that, I’ll tell you. [laughing] But yeah, now I can say it no problem. But it’s a condition where your internal organs are a big soup early in the gestation period, and they start to differentiate and for some reason they don’t fully differentiate.
So like the esophagus was attached to his trachea. And so all the stomach acid is going down into his lungs. And he had his aorta was almost fused shut. His airways were kind… his esophagus was low motility, and his airways were really floppy, so they would just collapse when he exhaled.
And then later we learned that he had a cleft in his larynx, which is a super, potentially super serious problem. Like he was just, it was small enough that he didn’t have to get a trach in his throat, but it was very close and it complicated, of course, eating considerably. So he had all of these together and then, when he was probably just into his first year he’d been developing, he’d did a hearing loss since he was probably his first surgeries. But it really became evident around his first birthday and he had severe hearing loss. Which was just within I know now not to use this term correctable. But it was in a range that they could use. He could use hearing aids and get a good deal of information. So it was quite a pallet of things.
David Hirsch: Yeah, it sounds like it. So my recollection was he had a number of different surgical procedures to help straighten things out, that could be call it corrected. And I’m wondering from a health standpoint was he still in a fragile state or was he on a more traditional path or typical path?
Jeff Seitzer: Yeah, he had two very serious surgeries his first week. And they widened the aorta, which was a very dramatic thing, and they rearranged his esophagus and trechea. So he was in neonatal intensive care for a month. And of course we were desperate to get out, but then we got home, we’re like, ah, cause then we had to take care of him and, it was just really scary.
He seemed so fragile and he was, he was prone to respiratory infections. So we had to have people gown up. It was really hard to have a new baby, and you couldn’t let people meet the baby, like he, we had to take him to the hospital and we thought he had too much blood pressure medication. And all the nurse, the people, the EMTs, they wanted to hold him and they got blood all over their shirts and stuff. So we had to isolate him quite a bit. He was fragile for quite a while, and then he’d, he had a number of other surgeries. He’d have to get, when you reattach the esophagus the surgical scar doesn’t stretch. So he grows, but it doesn’t grow with him. So they had to stretch it, they go and operate, it was a big deal not a super serious surgery, but you go general anesthesia, and there’s all such a lead up and, but then he started to get pneumonias from that and that was really kinda scary for several years. He would get very severe pneumonias and after all breathing and, it was a frightening thing to be around. Yeah.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Thanks for sharing. I’m wondering, what were some of the fears that you and Janet had that first year or so with all these challenges or obstacles that you were describing?
Jeff Seitzer: We’re lip flappers. We like to talk. And we like to eat and drink and we were concerned that he wouldn’t be… learn to be able to eat on his own and maybe have a trache in his neck. And who knew how he would develop. There was some question about whether he would be able to overcome all of these things.
And my wife has this great expression, the vision thing. You have this vision of what, how things will work and you have a major setback. You have, this child was born with all these conditions and at first you’re shocked and you’re not sure what will happen, but then you recalibrate it, you can handle it then. Because you don’t, you don’t have those expectations. You’re not judging yourself saying our life is deficient because we aren’t here.
I actually thought of this week cuz I teaching this book called the Epic of Gilgamesh. And I don’t know if that’s too long to go into this, but it involves this king who’s really super physically imposing and he takes advantage of his subjects and people appeal to these gods and they create another being to counter him and they get in a big fight. It turns out they become fast friends. Companions. And the interesting thing about it is this being was created just to oppose this guy and probably kill him, but then they become fast friends. But the point is the guy is no longer oppressive, right? Cuz he’s off on adventures with this guy. And then he, this guy dies and he is a terrible loss. So it’s it’s, it doesn’t develop the way you planned, but it’s still great. And I don’t know. I, that’s been our experience.
David Hirsch: Yeah. I think what I hear you saying at least partially is you have the ability to see the silver lining, to see the good in things as opposed to looking at things from a deficit or a loss perspective. And I think that is a gift in of itself because not everybody is wired that way or not everybody sees the world that way. And whether it’s your way of dealing with adversity or the best thing you could do in the circumstance. It seems like the outcomes have been much greater for you.
Jeff Seitzer: We had a lot of lovely times too. You find a little break in the action and you go have some nice little lunch outside and it’s just so much sweeter. We had just wonderful time and there was a lot of love and it was an adjustment for me because I had this all-encompassing self-care regimen for my own kind of issues. And that was kinda hard to give up at first. I wasn’t sure how I would get along, but then I could immerse myself completely in his care. And so it was kinda like the sort of thing I needed, like I need the, a project, right? It was really very fulfilling in a surprising way for me. I was really surprised by it.
David Hirsch: Thanks for sharing. Was there some advice you got on some meaningful insights that somebody shared with you that helped put the situation in perspective?
Jeff Seitzer: My mother-in-law was really great. She came and helped us out quite a bit and she and I were good buddies. We shared a lot of laughs.
Of course there was real challenges, but there were a lot of humorous moments and she said to me that everyone struggles as a parent. And of course, you’d know this if your child has special health challenges or developmental challenges. You have to find ways to address these and maybe they don’t always work and medication isn’t working. There’s all sorts of ways in which you are struggling. But you, it keeps me, it kept me from looking over at other people. I think they’ve got it better. Because and you would see this, people would share things with you or you’d witness something and you’d realize everyone struggles.
It’s just really, but you do the best you can. That’s thing everyone does, I think a pretty good job. Mostly, maybe not like fabulous. You never do what you’d like to do, cuz that’s the vision thing, right? But once that’s out the window, then you can really feel okay.
Which doesn’t mean you’re not tired and frustrated and worried, cause that’s always there. But you can feel some satisfaction that you’re doing pretty good, and if your kid’s happy, that, that’s really great.
David Hirsch: Yeah. So what were some of the biggest challenges as it relates to Ethan’s disabilities?
Jeff Seitzer: Oh boy. One thing is that he had these papery airways. And even, he’d have a cold and he’d get over the cold very quickly. But guys, you’re probably from a generation who understands newspaper sheaths that go around the papers. They kinda if you take them off, they just close up, right? And so that’s kinda the way his airways were. If he got sick, they would close. And the secretions, he’d try and cough to clear the secretions, but they wouldn’t go. They wouldn’t. And so it was a very barky cough. And, if you, a trained ear could distinguish it from something like, most people don’t have a trained ear and it could clear a room, and it made it hard because, you couldn’t go to usual kid places. So we had to get really inventive about that. And our neighborhood, of course was really great cuz we had all these things like auto body repair places, mechanics, and there was a firehouse, all sorts of things. And so we would go and tour these. It was kinda like our own Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, and these guys were great. They’re these tough, grizzled guys. You wouldn’t think they’d be very tender, but they’d just were so sweet when we’d come by. They’d invite us in. So we kinda like just got to know everybody there. And that’s what we did, and so it’s kinda it was a downside with an upside, right? Like everything, there’s an upside almost. I shouldn’t say almost everything, but oftentimes there is. And that was one, but there was a challenge in a way cause it was kinda isolating.
Tom Couch: We’ll be back with more of the conversation on the Special Fathers Network Dad To Dad Podcast in just a few moments.
But first, this quick message. Please help 21st Century Dads gather research on families raising children with special needs by having them complete the Special Fathers Network Early Intervention Parents Survey. A link to the survey can be found in the show notes. As a token of our appreciation, each person, mom or dad, who completes the survey, will receive a Great Dad Coin.
Thank you. Now back to the conversation.
David Hirsch: What were the circumstances that led to Ethan’s death?
Jeff Seitzer: It was an ordinary family vacation for Lake Michigan. Our first day down there, the rays were kind of great, and he got pretty sunburn. We weren’t even go swimming and people arrived, like friends, where one thing led to another and all these people came and swam.
And so before I knew it, we were in the water. And we’re usually good about safety. We would discuss things and it was all very confusing. It’s like you have a little bit of an off day as a parent, and it usually doesn’t end that badly. So we got swept into a area of extreme turbulence, which is really, it happens there at that part of the lake.
That part of the lake is very kind of dangerous. Everyone around us was fine. We could hear them. They were fine, but we were, the waves were coming from both directions. So it wasn’t like a rip current that you could… I’m a fully trained, had lifeguard training and a great swimmer. So it was like a one in a million circumstance.
We happened into this tiny little area and he went un…, we both went under together and I was so already, I think I was already so far gone. I don’t remember if someone came out to try. And he almost drowned. I was fortunate to meet him later because I assumed that I’d sacrificed him to save my own life.
I met him and he said that we all went underwater and he almost drowned, as I said. And I was underwater for a very long time. He, I was pulled out the water, my hands and feet were completely loose. So I was drowning. And it just, in an instant he’s gone. This acute overcame and I was thriving and so happy, and then just, whew, he’s gone.
And it’s just devastating. Even today, I was crying a little bit today about it. It’s been for 12 years.
David Hirsch: Thank you for recounting the circumstances and I can just tell by that tone of your voice, even though it’s been a dozen years, it’s not something you just get over. It’s something that is like permanent, right? There’s a part of your life that has been changed forever and there’s so many different things that come to mind and I’m not speaking from experience. It’s thought to be one of the greatest challenges in life is to lose a child at whatever age from the time of birth or as a young person like Ethan was at nine, or even as an adult. It’s just not the order of things, right? We’re supposed to predecease our children or future generations. And then there’s the anguish that you were talking about, which is, coulda, woulda, shoulda that we all, that game that we get caught up in. What could I have done? What should I have done to have a different outcome than this? The torture that you might put yourself through. And then you also made reference to the fact that there was this individual who had actually tried to save you both. And that played an instrumental role, actually was there to help Ethan and he wasn’t able to either.
Jeff Seitzer: The interesting thing about him is that he’s a special needs father, too. His daughter had cerebral palsy and they took care of her for 25 years. She didn’t speak, but they developed ways to communicate with her. And she had died about two years before that and he, they’d had this place on the lake and they hadn’t ventured down to the beach since she died. That was the first day. So what a brave, he risked his life to try to save Ethan. And we bonded for a lot of reasons.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Thanks for sharing. So Penelope is 16 and I’m curious to know what impact Ethan’s situation, not just his death, what she might be able to recall from her youth about Ethan’s presence. What impact has all this had on her, your marriage or your extended family for that matter?
Jeff Seitzer: Her, he loved her so completely. He was so much fun and very kind. He had a lot of great friends and he just made such a difference for her. This loving presence was so cool and so it was devastating, I think. She’s a survivor. She was an orphan, came just 18 months and she bounced around quite bit in China, several foster families and had been a little bit sick herself and it was just wonderful that he loved her so much and so he lost, she lost him, which is really hard, and then she lost her parents to a degree.
David Hirsch: So let’s talk about your book which came out in August of 2022, the title of which is “The Fun Master: A Father’s Journey to Love, Loss, and Learning to Live One Day at a Time”. I thought it was a very provocative title. The Fun Master.
Jeff Seitzer: …was actually what friends called him because he had an amazing ability to connect with people.
David Hirsch: It’s a unique gift that somebody’s presence, and I know a couple people like this that they seem to bring out the best in people. And it’s not trying to school people or tell ’em what to do or how to do things. It’s just almost by their example that they bring out the best in people. And I think that’s one of the takeaways I had from reading the book is that it seems like it’s brought out like the best in you as a dad, you as a husband, you as a caregiver. And I don’t know that was just luck or happenstance. Maybe that was one of Ethan’s gifts that just keeps on giving.
So let’s give a special shout out to Jackie Karneth at Books Forward for helping connect us.
Jeff Seitzer: Yeah, thank you Jackie. And thanks everyone for listening.
David Hirsch: If somebody wants to learn about your work or contact you, what’s the best way to do that?
Jeff Seitzer: I have a website JeffreySeitzer.com and there’s a contact page there. They could also email me at email@example.com. I love hearing from people. And if they can’t remember that, put my name in Google and my website will come right up.
David Hirsch: We’ll be sure to include that in the show notes so it’ll make it as easy as possible for somebody to follow up with you. Jeff, thank you for your time and many insights.
As a reminder, Jeff is just one of the dads who is part of the Special Fathers Network, a mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. If you’d like to be a mentor father, or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation to your own, please go to 21stCenturyDads.org.
Thank you for listening to the latest episode of the Special Fathers Network Dad To Dad Podcast. I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did. As you probably know, the 21st Century Dads Foundation is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, which means we need your help to keep our content free to all concerned. Would you please consider making a tax deductible contribution? I would really appreciate your support. Jeff, thanks again.
Jeff Seitzer: Thank you, David.
Tom Couch: And thank you for listening to the Special Fathers Network Dad To Dad Podcast. The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children match up with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support other dads. To find out more, go to 21stCenturyDads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we would be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to facebook.com, groups, and search “dad to dad”. Lastly, we’re always looking to share interesting stories. If you’d like to share your story or know of a compelling story, please send an email to David@21stCenturyDads.org.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network Dad To Dad Podcast was produced by me, Tom Couch.
Thanks again to Horizon Therapeutics who believe that science and compassion must work together to transform lives. That’s why they work tirelessly to research, develop, and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic diseases. Discover more about Horizon Therapeutics at HorizonTherapeutics.com.