In this Dad to Dad podcast we hear from country music artist, Seth Keiffer, a fatherland stepfather of four including a child with autism. Seth has great stories to tell and great music as well. He’s David Hirsch’s guest on this Dad to Dad podcast. To find out more about the Special Fathers network go to 21stcenturydads.org.
Dad to Dad 47- Seth Keiffer, country music artist, dad & stepdad of 4 including a child with autism
Seth Keiffer: Patience and don’t give up, you know, don’t give up on them and don’t give up on yourself, you know, perseverance, they’re going to buck you and they’re going to buck you even more when they’re special needs, don’t give up on them. And it’s hard. It’s really, really hard, but you just, you can’t do it. And don’t give up on yourself.
Don’t beat yourself up.
Tom Couch: That’s special father and country music artists, Seth Keiffer, a bother of four, including a child with autism. Seth has great stories to tell and great music as well.
We’ll hear from Seth on this dad to dad podcast. Here’s your host. David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: Hi, and thanks for listening to the dad to dad podcast, fathers, mentoring fathers have filled them 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.
Seth Keiffer: So let’s listen now to David Hirsch’s conversation with special father Seth Kieffer.
David Hirsch: I’m thrilled to be talking today with my friend, Seth keeper of Houston, Texas, a father and stepfather of four children and a country music artist. Seth, thank you for taking the time to do a podcast interview for this special father’s network.
Seth Keiffer: Yes, sir. Thank you.
David Hirsch: You and your wife, Haley had been married for 13 years now. The proud parents of four children, Presley eight, Gracie 12, Wesley 21 and Macy 18, who has autism? Well, let’s start with some background. Where did you grow up? Tell me something about your family.
Seth Keiffer: I grew up kind of all over, man.
I mean, my dad, he was in the, in the plants or in the construction business and, uh, you know, moved us around a lot, but I grew up in Winfield, Louisiana. That’s kind of where my mom and dad met and you know, all that. And then we moved. Mississippi. I’ve lived in Florida, Alabama, New York, but I graduated high school in Winfield.
David Hirsch: Okay. So you grew up, uh, in a number of places, but, uh, sort of the home base was Winfield Louisiana.
Seth Keiffer: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Winfield. Louisiana.
David Hirsch: So how would you describe your relationship with your dad?
Seth Keiffer: Well, he left when I was 12 years old. I didn’t hear from him for four years. I had started, you know, becoming a man when he called and, uh, I didn’t recognize his voice.
Obviously he didn’t recognize my voice, but for four years, I didn’t know if my dad was dead or alive. He left me and my mom and my sister in Mississippi. And then that’s when we moved back to Winfield to live with my nanny, which was my mom’s mom. And, um, you know, she’s no longer with us and neither are my dad’s parents.
Neither one of them are no longer with us.
David Hirsch: If I remember correctly, your grandma nanny was also a deputy sheriff.
Seth Keiffer: I absolutely in one field, 25 years.
David Hirsch: And she was the one that had a three 57 Magnum in her mattress. Absolutely.
Seth Keiffer: That was her.
David Hirsch: I remember you telling me that story,
Seth Keiffer: just like with the owner mattress every night,
David Hirsch: she sounded like an all business type of woman.
Seth Keiffer: She was very, very well, you know, we’re part of the lungs. Uh, so you know, the long family, um, If you know anything about them, they, they, they were pretty, pretty rough guys.
David Hirsch: They, they were
Seth Keiffer: pretty tough and sh my nanny was super tough. Very, very tough lady.
David Hirsch: Okay.
Seth Keiffer: Uh, she was hard. She believed in tough love, believed in hard love, you know, but she loved
David Hirsch: now.
Well, let’s go back to your dad. As I remember. He moved away when you were 12, no contact for four years. Yes. He calls you
Seth Keiffer: a 16,
David Hirsch: right? Cause you sort of, uh, wants to talk. And uh, I think if I remember the story, you moved to New York or went to visit him in New York.
Seth Keiffer: Yes, my sister and I, we went out there and visited him in Plattsburgh, him and my uncle Dennis.
And that was my dad’s brother. And that’s the one that took my dad to New York at first because he offered my dad a great job. My dad was going out there and going to work two years. Come home and life was going to be, you know, a fairy tale from there, but obviously that’s not what happened. He did get up there and make a lot of money.
Call me, am I called to my nanny’s house? I entered the phone, told me who he was. It was a weird conversation, man, because when I picked up the phone, I said, hello. And he said, hello, who’s this? And I said, you called me. I said, you called me. I said, who’s this. He knows, this is Rick. So I said, well, this is Seth.
And he said something like you talked to your daddy that way so that I didn’t know it was you, it just kind of started started in that aspect. It was something like that. But, um, ended up telling me that he had me and my sister, Shelly, he added some tickets to fly out to Plattsburgh, New York. He was staying with my uncle Dennis during that summer.
And working with him, flew us out there and. Not just me, uncle Dennis, his two daughters are first cousins. They flew out there with us and my dad had a great time. You know what I mean? It was a great time. And Shelly came back to Winfield and I stayed in New York. You know, I wanted to build a relationship with my daddy.
And first time I ever got pulled over, I was on Niagara falls Boulevard. It was two 30 in the morning. I was 16 years old. I was driving down. Funny story, not funny. I mean, I look back on it now, but all this has made me who I am today and how calm I can deal with things that I deal with today is because of the things that I went through, you know, as a young man and as a, as a child, I mean, I guess 16 years you’re becoming a man, but, um, I was 16 years old, man, and I’d left.
Daddy didn’t come home. And, uh, we were living in the white horse saloon hotel. And, um, I had school the following morning I got on Niagara falls Boulevard, started driving down the road, forgot to turn my headlights on because it was so bright outside from the, from the street lights. And a cop got behind me, pulled me over in a convenience store, parking lot and came up to me and rolled my window down.
And he said, you know why I pulled you over? And I said, no, sir. You said you don’t have your headlights on them. See driver’s license. I said, okay. So I hand him my driver’s license and they were Louisiana driver’s license. He says, I didn’t think he was from here. I said, no, sir, I’m not. And he said, well, what are you doing out this late or this early in the morning?
And I said, I’m looking for my dad. And he goes really? And I said, yes, sir. He said, don’t you get school? I said, yes, sir. I said, but I’m really worried about my dad. Didn’t give me a ticket. He told me good luck on finding my dad, but go back home. Part of this story. I left the hotel room key inside the hotel room.
So we were locked out. So I ended up passing out in the Jeep, in the front seat of the Jeep that I was driving. And, um, he got there about six 30 that morning and was, I was woke up startled, scared to death because he was beating on the driver’s side glass, trying to wake me up, asking me what I was doing in the truck and all this.
And that was kind of the, kind of the downfall of me. Living with my dad. There’s a lot of other incidences that happened. One was, you know, another lady and I got in her face and told her she was not going to replace my mom. She was not going to be my mom. My dad got in my face and I said, you know, I’m not scared of you anymore.
Finally, me and my dad, we got kind of at each other’s throat, I guess, enough to where, um, I ended up finally moving back in with my mom. And then I didn’t talk to my dad for, you know, we can, that we reconnected when I was 23, I guess, or so. So
David Hirsch: another six or seven years must’ve passed.
Seth Keiffer: Well, I mean, not going to say, I never heard from him, but never had that bond had that father, son bond, even when he passed three years ago.
Well, it’ll be three years in August. He died August 12, 2016 from ALS and, um, Even when he passed, we did not have we had rekindled, you know, we had made amends and, and all that, but we still had more of a brother relationship than a father, son
David Hirsch: relationship. Got it. So I’m wondering if you think back over this sort of roller coaster of a ride that you’ve been describing with your dad, was there an important lesson lessons that you took away either because of something he said or did.
That have really impacted your life in a positive or negative way for that matter.
Seth Keiffer: Yeah. You know, um, Gracie’s 12 years old. This is about the time that my dad, I think had already been contemplating getting out or whatever. I mean, he was going to have two teenagers, you know, my sister was 16 and I was 12.
So. I guess the pressures of it, or he just couldn’t be the, you know what I’m saying? So, I mean, don’t get me wrong. I still make my mistakes, but I’m not going to leave my kids.
David Hirsch: So that was one important takeaway. Was I learned by example, maybe I can live vicariously through that situation. I don’t have to repeat the same mistakes that my dad made.
Right. Okay. Anything else that comes to mind
Seth Keiffer: for a, for a long time, mr. David? I thought, you know, that. Part of it was my fault. And I even told my mom, this, I’ve told my mom this several times and she’s told me no sad, you know, it, it definitely had nothing to do with what I said, him and my mom were fighting.
And my dad was a pretty big man. I mean, he was six foot four. He was a baseball pitcher. I mean, so he, you know, he was a, he was a big dude, you know, 240 pounds, six foot four and solid. And, um, my mom’s five, two. So, you know, you know, they were arguing and. I remember it was in Mississippi. And I remember telling daddy, and this was, I guess, two or three weeks before he actually got the phone call to, to go to New York.
I said, I just wish he’d leave and never come back.
David Hirsch: Wow.
Seth Keiffer: And, um, it’s exactly what happened. It was tough, man. It was tough to swallow. I mean, I, you know, that was the last word, not the last words, but I, you know, that was something that had stuck with me that I had said when she would leave and never come back.
David Hirsch: Yeah, well, uh, sometimes you, uh, internalize these things and as a young person, it’s very confusing, right? You’re only 12 years old. Right. And I can relate to that. Uh, my parents divorced when I was six, my dad moved away. Remarried, became a dad to somebody else’s kids. And, uh, you know, you don’t know what to think.
Right. You know, was it because of something you said or did? Um, it’s very confusing. Cause you heard your parents arguing all the time. I did as well. And, uh, you know, it impacts you. And I think that the positive impact is that, you know, you don’t want that to happen, right? You want to be there for your wife.
You want to be there for your kids. And no matter what the circumstances are, right. You know, it’s your responsibility. And, you know, not all guys think that way, but I think that’s one of the important takeaways that I learned when you told me your story. So I thank you again for sharing. So I’m sort of curious to know about your, uh grandpa’s.
Um, I think it was your dad’s dad,
Seth Keiffer: man. He was tough that man, he was very, uh, I, my, this is the only word I can use, but it’s used in the context of, you know, the, the reverence that you would give God. My grandfather was very, just, it was very, you know, he was just very matter of fact and very hard. I mean, I loved my Popol to death, but he was just very, man, it wouldn’t be nothing.
You’d just be sitting there. And if you said something that he didn’t like, he would literally thump you in the head. Oh my gosh. My grandfather had huge hands. It would be worse than any weapon you could think of. I mean, you just literally got thumped in the head. Um,
David Hirsch: I also remember you telling me a story.
I think about an uncle Dennis, this might’ve been your dad’s brother.
Seth Keiffer: That was my dad’s brother. He and his wife, you know, got divorced, whatever. And he moved to new Canada, same thing. My dad did man moved to New York and all that stuff. And, but then he came back into my life, ironically, and very weirdly, he came back into my life.
He was at one of my shows. I was playing in Monroe. And, um, 2002 I believe is when it was him and his girlfriend. At the time they came to my show and my sister came and they went down a one way, the wrong way. And he was killed in a head on collision with an 18 Wheeler on impact. She lived and then I drove up on it.
I knew when it happened, we were unloading and I had a sickness come across my stomach. And then I saw five or six cop cars just barreling down Paul street. And I told my band members, I said a gas on my right. So we jumped in my truck and sure enough, man, we coming on at 20. And uh, I seen him laying out on the interstate.
I said, that’s uncle Dennis right there. And they were lying. No man. And I said, yeah, I’d see him. And I got out of my truck and I started running up the. Interstate and the cop stepped in front of me and he said, boy, what are you doing? I think I was 18 years old. And, um, he said, uh, you, you don’t need to go up there.
And I said, sorry, that’s my uncle Dennis. Right there laying on that glass, laying on the windshield and a cop, put his hand on my shoulder. And he said, I’m sorry, son. And, um, I got a bag in my truck and I went home and yeah. Was it like a, see Loretta? I still remember she was wearing a red sweater and she was pinned.
It was a little Ford escape. And, um, I could see the airbag that exploded out on her, but I can see her. She was pinned in, all it did was broke her legs, but, uh, my uncle Dennis was like six foot six. So he went and hit his head, knocked out the windshield. And when that happened, his whole body laid across the hood.
And when the car was spinning, his head hit the guardrail and that’s what killed him.
David Hirsch: Oh, my gosh. Well, that was a very tragic and uh, sudden death. And you saw him an hour before or whenever it was when he left your show and you know, you’re thinking, Hey, huh?
Seth Keiffer: Oh yeah. You asked me to play free bird. Yeah.
You asked me to play Freebird.
David Hirsch: Wow.
Seth Keiffer: And we were, it was in the middle of the solo whenever I went to the door. Cause I use a wireless mic when I went to the door and I said, I love you, uncle Dennis. And I said, hi. And he got in his truck or. Him and Loretta were fighting because she was so drunk and he was drunk, but he could drive drunk where she couldn’t, she didn’t know left from.
Right. And she went down hall street the wrong way and got on the interstate northbound when the interstate was running southbound.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I’m really sorry to hear about the tragic situation that you just described and, uh, it’s a. Pretty heavy to lose a close family member like that. Uh, so when you think back on your relationship with your uncle, Dennis, what was the positive takeaway?
Not the end of his life, but what was it that you know, you think about your uncle Dennis that has impacted you in a positive
Seth Keiffer: way? Well, when I was out at his house in New York, I found a guitar. He had an ovation and, um, he picked around on it and I was like, I can do that. And I learned three chords in three months while I was there and I came home, I said, from my graduation, I want a guitar.
And so I did a lot of research. I bought my first guitar, which was an Alvarez acoustic for $600 at Ziglar’s music in Monroe, Louisiana.
David Hirsch: So you credit him with sort of peaking your interest in playing
Seth Keiffer: the guitar? Absolutely. Absolutely. I’ve always sang. I’ve always sang. Um, I’ve been singing since, I guess I was three years old, but guitar.
Right. I taught myself. Yeah. I learned in three chords and I think they were email or C and G I’d written songs though. Prior to this, I’d already written a couple of songs, but didn’t know they were songs until you put music to them, but they were structured. Verse chorus, verse chorus.
David Hirsch: Well, let’s switch gears.
Okay. My understanding is that you went to school at the university of Louisiana Monroe. Yes. And when you left school, what was it you think you’re going to do for a career?
Seth Keiffer: I was going to do music, but didn’t know how, because in my mind you had to have a band to do it. I couldn’t keep guys that would stay focused, but I knew somehow some way I was going to do music.
Math started selling cars. And writing songs in my office. Cause I could play guitar at this point. I could play guitar well enough to write songs.
David Hirsch: So that was way back in the beginning. I don’t know
Seth Keiffer: I was 20, I guess I was 20, maybe 21 and I started, I started writing content and that’s when I knew that God had given me the gift to write songs because I can write a song in 10
David Hirsch: minutes.
So how many songs have you written? Oh goodness man.
Seth Keiffer: Over 200. How many
David Hirsch: of you actually performed?
Seth Keiffer: I perform right now. Acoustically. I’ve never laid anybody like my band right now. I don’t, they don’t know them. Uh, they’re asking me, Hey, Seth, when are we going to learn your original stuff? And you know, that’s kinda your babies.
You know what I mean? I play them acoustic. I got about 14, 14 or 15 that I play acoustic right now.
David Hirsch: well, let’s switch gears again. Um, I’m sort of curious to know how did you and Hailey meet?
Seth Keiffer: So her and my sister were best friends for a quite some time. I am before I ever even knew Haley ever even heard of hae. She, uh, was respiratory therapist, same night that my sister. Was a nurse at a Rapids general, which is in the LA Alexandria.
It’s only like 30 minutes away. So they were on the same shift that night they met and they kept in contact and all this well I’d quote, a song. Paul died. I’m sorry. I still love you.
I’ll let my sister here. And she’s like, well, I got a good friend, Haley who’s in the music. And she said, she’s a, uh, an INR rep for a hip hop label. And, um, I was like, well, I don’t want her to hear that. And she goes, no, she needs to hear it because they’re trying to venture into some other genres. And I was like, okay, we set up a meeting and I drove to LA and met with Haley and gave her a CD.
And we just became like really good friends, man. We, I came back to Texas and, you know, she stayed in Louisiana, but we talked almost every day. It seemed like just kinda hit it off from there and through music to answer your question through music and my sister.
David Hirsch: Okay. So you met through Shelley, your sister, Music was what brought you together?
How long did you sort of a call it date before you said, Oh, maybe this is real. Why don’t we get married
Seth Keiffer: a year? A year.
David Hirsch: Okay. So pretty fast. Yeah. And at the time she had two children. Yes. Uh, Wesley and Macy, they were super young. My guessing that they were probably eight and six years old or something like that.
Yeah. I guess one of the things that really sort of stood out in my mind, you guys hit it off from a relationship standpoint, you are going to step in and become a stepdad to two young kids, including a daughter who had some special needs.
Seth Keiffer: Yes, sir.
David Hirsch: No, that’s remarkable. That’s so uncommon that, uh, somebody would be willing to take on the responsibility of becoming a dad or stepdad to.
Some kids and to know going into the relationship that, you know, there’s going to be some challenges along the way. Sure. We’re going to talk about the special needs community sort of on a personal level and then, you know, beyond, so before me meeting Hailey with her two young kids, did you have any connection to the special needs community?
Seth Keiffer: No. I mean, not, you know, growing up, man, I was the smallest guy. I mean, when I graduated high school, I was five foot eight. I mean, I was a little bitty guy, you know, so, um, I didn’t really okay. You know, I wasn’t the one, I wasn’t a volunteer or anything like that. No. I mean, I didn’t. And plus really in Winfield, man, you know, they didn’t, it was such a small school.
We didn’t, there was nothing like that where I grew up.
David Hirsch: Okay. I’m just curious. So as I understand that, uh, When you and Haley got married, uh, Wesley and Macey were young. What was Macy’s diagnosis at the time? What did you understand it to be when you first got married,
Seth Keiffer: that she had a mild form of cerebral palsy called cerebral dysplasia or cerebral dysplasia?
I didn’t know anything about it. I mean, I went in this completely blind, not knowing how to handle anything, not knowing how to handle kids much less. A special needs kid, right?
David Hirsch: Baptism by fire.
Seth Keiffer: Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, she wasn’t potty trained. She didn’t really walk. She didn’t talk. I mean, it was, it was very, very challenging, very challenging.
David Hirsch: Well, it takes a special type of person to be a parent to a special needs child, mother, or father, and to be the step dad to step into those shoes and say, Hey, I don’t. You have any experience, but you know, I want to help. I want to do whatever I can to make a difference in this young woman’s life. So that was the initial diagnosis when she was five or six years old and what’s transpired since then, I was she sort of Pedro.
Seth Keiffer: So now I think it’s called, she has something called chromosome 17, which is, um, if I’m not mistaken, it’s a form of autism. And it’s on the spectrum, you know, and we didn’t know any of that five years ago, six years ago,
David Hirsch: you know, so I remember the story. She’s also had epileptic seizures as well, along the way.
Seth Keiffer: Oh yeah. She’s epileptic. Yes. She’s been at the leptin. Um, probably since she was nine.
David Hirsch: Okay. And have you gotten a, the seizures under control with medication? Yes.
Seth Keiffer: Yes. She takes several. Several medicines in the morning and several medicines at night. And they’re pretty, they’re pretty regulated. The last grandma seizure that she had was definitely, probably a very, very scary moment.
David Hirsch: How long ago was that?
Seth Keiffer: Probably four years ago.
David Hirsch: Okay. Hopefully that was the last of them.
Seth Keiffer: Right. And that was something I’d never seen, nothing like that before in my life. And I’d seen her have seizures. I’ve seen her have several. Not seeing her have the worst of the worst now, since I saw that grandma, but I’d never seen her grandma.
And when I seen that, I was just like, I went into dad mode, picked her up, immediately put her in the back of the Tahoe and just drove her straight to the ER, after it was done is when I freaked out. I was like, Oh my goodness, what did I just see? I mean, it was, it was scary, man.
David Hirsch: Yeah. I can only imagine. So she’s 18 now.
Yeah. Is of high school age? Yes. Uh, what type of, uh, schooling has she been able to experience?
Seth Keiffer: She goes to, uh, she goes to high school. She’ll graduate this year. She actually gets a diploma. You know what I mean? She’s, she’s in the special needs life skills class.
David Hirsch: And what is, what does she hope to do once you graduate from high school?
Seth Keiffer: future look like? Um, there’s a program after high school. It’s still school. But it’s more of life. Do you know what I’m saying? Like, they teach you how to basically live on your own to be able to cook simple things, macaroni and cheese, Raymond noodles, eggs, you know, things like that, but it’s still school.
You’re still learning, but it’s, it’s more of a life kind of scale. And I think they can go into their 21.
David Hirsch: Yeah. That’s pretty typical with programs that are supported through public schools. I learn life skills. Yes, sir. Right. Just basic skills. Yes, sir. To learn some independence and to be able to take care of things, you know, day to day sort of activities.
Yes, sir. That’s a fabulous, I’m so glad to hear that she’s navigated through the, uh, epilepsy, the seizure, um, experiences that she’s had and hopefully the worst of them behind her with proper medication.
Seth Keiffer: Yes, yes. Uh, yeah, she’s definitely come a long ways on the, on the seizures. So
David Hirsch: let’s switch gears and talk about Presley.
Okay. He is one of the two children that you and Hailey have had, right? Presley is eight now. But as I remember the story, he was born like 15 weeks premature, one pound, three ounces or something.
Seth Keiffer: Yes. He was born one pound, three
David Hirsch: ounces. That little guy had a really difficult start. Didn’t he?
Seth Keiffer: He did. He did.
And I thank God every day. I mean, praise the Lord. He has no special needs. He’s had both eyes operated on, you know, he’s had heart surgery, he’s had all that, but as far as his ability, now he is a little ADHD, but I think that come, you know, that’s pretty much all preemies, I think. And he is a little small, but I think he’ll catch up to his size on that also.
But as far as his learning ability, his abilities, I mean, He wants to play football. He wants to play baseball. I mean, yeah.
David Hirsch: Well, that’s fabulous. It’s a great
Seth Keiffer: thing.
David Hirsch: He’s clearly a miracle baby.
Seth Keiffer: Yeah. 100%
David Hirsch: very unusual for somebody to go through heart surgeries, having both eyes operated on. I think I remember you telling me it’s about 111 days in the hospital.
Seth Keiffer: 111 days in the hospital. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And, and, and so the, the first 24 hours the doctor came Hailey, she was still in the recovery. And, um, he was in the NICU and I was down there looking at him through the incubator and, uh, the doctor came to me and he said, mr. Kieffer, he said, your son’s not gonna make it until morning.
And I remember looking at the doctor and I said, doc, he’s got to make it. His mom, I ain’t even seen him yet. And here we are eight years later.
David Hirsch: Wow. You know? Yeah. Well that is a miracle in and of itself. Oh yes, sir. You’ve been blessed. You and Haley have been blessed in so many different ways and I’m hoping that.
All that becomes smaller and smaller as the years go by in the rear view mirror. Yes, sir. So, um, you’ve been through some pretty challenging situations with Presley in his young life, the last 13 years, being a dad to Macy as well. I’m wondering, um, what meaningful advice you got early on or along the way that really helped you or made a
Seth Keiffer: difference patients and don’t give up.
No, don’t give up on them and don’t give up on yourself, you know, perseverance, they’re going to buck you and they’re going to buck you even more when their special needs don’t give up on them. And it’s hard. It’s really, really hard, but you just, you can’t do it and don’t give up on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up.
I’ve been in both lanes
David Hirsch: where there some important decisions that you and Hailey made along the way for. May say are the other three kids, um, you look back on and say, ah, that was, that was the,
Seth Keiffer: I think the, uh, for Macy making her work for walking, I mean, she was in a stroller. Tissue was six years old. I was like, Haley, this is when I can’t do this.
She’s got to learn. We’ve got to get her to walk in. And, um, she did, um, she walks fine now. Perfectly fine. Again, though, that goes back to that. Don’t give up, you know, don’t give up on them and don’t give up on yourself because I think if Macy wasn’t walking right now, I don’t, I don’t,
David Hirsch: I don’t know. Let me, uh, try to paraphrase that and say that, uh, you need to maintain some high expectations for what they can achieve.
Seth Keiffer: Absolutely.
David Hirsch: You know, don’t do things for them that they might be able to do themselves. Absolutely. And you never know it doesn’t always turn out that. Somebody who couldn’t walk is able to walk, but if you don’t give them a chance or don’t push them,
Seth Keiffer: you never know if they could.
David Hirsch: And you’re the man that you are today.
You’re the husband that you are today. You’re the dad that you are today. Yeah. Because you know, some of the experiences you’ve had. And I think that, uh, all too often, what I’ve heard of all these interviews I’ve done with dads, raising kids with special needs is that, you know, if you do everything for them, you’re actually further handicapping them later on in life.
Seth Keiffer: 100% you keep them special needs.
David Hirsch: Exactly. So, um, what were some of the bigger challenges that you’ve encountered during the past 13 years? If you wanted to highlight one or two of them,
Seth Keiffer: obviously being a stepdad is a challenge in itself, because at some point they’re gonna, they’re gonna book you and there’s only so much that you can do within your boundaries because you’re not their biological father.
You know what I mean? And so I would say that. I would say that
David Hirsch: sort of knowing one depress and sort of when to back off.
Seth Keiffer: Yeah. But I’ve never been one to back off. That’s the thing, you know, and then it causes other risks. So if you asked me what was the challenging thing I gave you the answer? I don’t know when to back off, because I don’t back off on my kids.
I’m pretty strict, but I look at the way I was raised and how I turned out. I don’t think I turned down too
David Hirsch: bad. Yeah. Well, I think that, uh, one of the bigger takeaways I’ve had having lived through a step family personally, growing up and, you know, being involved with a lot of blended families is that you don’t refer to them as these are my stepkids and these are my kids.
They’re just all like that.
Seth Keiffer: Right. But when the dad is still involved and in the picture, your boundaries are limited, man. Right? I mean, There’s limits to what you can, how you can discipline how to you can discipline. I mean, there’s just limits now. Not so much there, but they’re grown, you know, but in the beginning, yeah, it was tough, man.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, thanks for sharing.
Seth Keiffer: And there was you’re right there. Wasn’t no other kids in the beginning, right? It was just Macy and Wesley, Gracie and Presley wouldn’t even thought about.
David Hirsch: Got it. So, um, I’m thinking, what impact do you think Macy’s and press this situation has had on Westlake the older brother and Gracie, the discern from looking at Macy’s situation and part of the trauma that the whole family went through.
One Presley was super young and going through all the challenges that he had at the beginning of his life, how has that impacted the other two
Seth Keiffer: Wesley? He, he, um, he understood, he was what. Uh, 12 years old, Gracie, not so much because Gracie was only like four, so she didn’t really understand all the things that were happening.
And while mom was in the hospital and why dad had to go to the hospital every day and, you know, see brother or whatever. But, um, now they look back and we’re pretty close, man. We’re pretty close knit family.
David Hirsch: So it’s brought the family together. Maybe at first there was some confusion, but, uh, Um, having Macy in your lives is really sort of, um, maybe help them mature and become a little bit more, um, open to accepting people with differences.
Seth Keiffer: yeah. Gracie has a thing called a special siblings by Gracie and she wants to start doing something with that, you know, dare to be different kind of thing.
David Hirsch: I love it. So let’s use this as a point to switch gears. Go beyond talking about your own personal experience that you and Hailey have had to talk about.
Macy’s miracles. What is that? And how did it start
Seth Keiffer: to special needs entrepreneurial kind of program that doesn’t allow your inability to affect your abilities?
David Hirsch: Okay.
Seth Keiffer: It’s for the special needs community that want to be. I mean, I have something for themselves basically. And I guess that’s why I would say entrepreneurial because you know, you’re not going to a job.
You are the CEO of whatever you want to do, and that’s what Macy’s miracle helps do.
David Hirsch: So how did it start? What was the beginning of it? How
Seth Keiffer: Dave, we start my miracles an idea, because what was Macy going to do when she got out of high school? We do benefits for the special needs community. We raise capital to give to special needs families or programs, or,
David Hirsch: and, uh, when you think about what Macy’s miracles is doing now, what are sort of the highlights to give our listeners a better
Seth Keiffer: understanding?
Macy’s miracles now is really flourishing. The idea is coming to fruition. We’re starting to be able to sponsor people. We’re starting to be able to the idea that. Really my wife had, and I just kind of supported it. It’s starting to flourish now it’s starting to come to fruition and it’s only going to get better.
It’s only going to get better.
David Hirsch: I think, I think I remember Haley mentioning to me that there’s an anti bullying program, uh, that you’ve supported.
Seth Keiffer: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. It does have an anti bullying program with it because of the fact that, you know, the special needs community does get. Picked on, I guess, or bullied, you know, however you want to call it.
David Hirsch: Okay.
Seth Keiffer: But not only the special needs community, there’s other people that, that also get that, you know, they get bullied. I mean, bullying’s become just rampant and it’s ridiculous.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well the social media is probably not helping that situation.
Seth Keiffer: I think it’s terrible.
David Hirsch: And I think it’s great that you guys are involved with that.
I think when you started at an early age and it’s understand that, you know, some people have differences, right. We all have different color hair or different
Seth Keiffer: sizes. Absolutely. None of us are made the same.
David Hirsch: Right. And it’s important to accept people who they are and not by what our differences are, but what we have in common.
And, uh, I think if you’re starting at a young age, it just makes everything better. Uh, people are better people as they get older, communities are stronger and more accepting. And I just love, um, what your family is doing and the name of Macy’s
Seth Keiffer: miracles. Also mr. David, and this is just my take on it. Uh, I guess being a guy or whatever, but I think anybody that does bully somebody smaller or a special needs person is because they know that they’re not going to fight back, especially in the special needs realm.
Right. They’re lovers. I mean, they’re not going to fight back.
David Hirsch: Oh yeah.
Seth Keiffer: And I think certain people bullies, they know that, but you’re not going to go up to a guy that’s six foot. 200 pounds and try to pick on him. You see what I’m saying? Because you’re going to get some backlash on that one.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, it’s a cowardly thing to do to pick on somebody who’s weaker or who isn’t going to be able to stand up for themselves.
Seth Keiffer: that’s what I’m saying. Yeah. Cowardly. There you go. That’s the word I was looking
David Hirsch: for. So I’m wondering what role has spirituality played in your life?
Seth Keiffer: I’m definitely a follower of Jesus Christ. My whole family is. Like I said, I’m not perfect. I don’t claim to be perfect, but I know I’m forgiven and these are the only reason I’m here.
And I’ll tell you that.
David Hirsch: I love it. Thank you for sharing. Um, let’s talk a little bit about your career. I know that, uh, you’ve had some stops and starts along the way. Yes, sir. You’ve been very prolific about writing songs and then. Performing some of them, but, uh, I think there was a story about a manager. I think his name was Mark.
And, uh, this was sort of a turning point in your career. Yes, sir. Wondering if you can tell that story?
Seth Keiffer: So Mark was my dad’s good friend and my dad. And then we started talking one day and Mark and managed a couple of bands out in Nashville. So he had some connections and daddy told him about me and. He’s like, well, let me hear him.
So he did, and he took me on and, uh, and, and this was just me acoustically. I didn’t have a band at the time. Really took my career to a whole, another place. I mean, I started playing, you know, not just locally. I started playing at other being used in other cities and things like that. And I got a call one morning and, um, You got to keep in mind.
I had known since then he had managed me, I guess, for about a year and a half at this point. And I got a call one morning and he told me that Marion, which was his wife, uh, had took her life. And I said, do what? And he said, yeah, he said, the funeral was Thursday. And I said, well, man, you got me booked this third.
He said, no, you go to work. And I said, alright. So I ended up going to work and call me that Friday morning. And he said, Hey, I want you to write a song. About, you know, about my situation. And I said, Nope, not doing it. And he goes, would you please do? And I said, markets, that’s too intimate, man. That’s too, that’s too close.
I’m not going to do that. He said, well, just right. And he was crying and he said, write it for me for therapy. Then I said, yes, sir. So I went in my bathroom that night sat down. I wrote that song. I called him up the next day. I said, Hey Mark, I got that song. You wanted me to write? And he didn’t know how fast I wrote songs.
I mean, like then that’s another thing I got, God is in everything that I do. I mean, and I know he’s with me and I do things that I shouldn’t do. And I still know he’s sitting right beside me, but that’s how I know that it’s a God given gift, man. Cause I can sit down and in 10 or 15 minutes I have a complete song written and um, I called him up and I said, Hey Mark, I got that song written.
I want you to come here. So he came over there and I played it for him sitting in my office, 55 year old man, you know, he started crying and I knew I had something and he came to one of my shows and he said, say, I want you to incorporate this song in your live shows. And he said, maybe it can help some other people that have been in my situation.
So then I started performing in, at my shows and got a really good response.
David Hirsch: What’s the title of that song? What’s the title of it.
Seth Keiffer: The memory remains. Okay. And, um, I was playing it at a coach’s on 1960. This would have been April. Yeah. This would have been April 4th, 11 months to the day that Mary and she killed herself my fault.
They were sitting there and just talking a little bit, you know, he had told me, you know, that he thinks about her all day. Okay. He told me, he said, man, don’t think I don’t think about it all the time. And I said, Mark, don’t even think like that, man. Let’s say we got too much work to do. He said, yeah, yeah, you’re right.
You’re right. I said, all right. I said, well, look, I got to go back on stage. And he said, play my song for me. And I said, okay, I’ll do it. The last song of the night, he goes, okay, so 10 45 rolled around. My show was over 11, 10 45 rolled around. I said, this is gonna be the last all night guys or no, I got two songs left and I’m going to play.
And I said, this last one is for my. My manager slash my best friend, mr. Mark steel. So I did the Brad Paisley song. I did whiskey lullaby, and then, uh, Bye right behind that I closed with memory remains. Okay.
you all are.
remain. So Durham memory remains. He came up, came up on stage with me and put his hand around me and our arm around my neck. And he was like, Seth mind, every time you do the song, it gets better and better. He said, I’m putting you in the studio next week. We’re going to hire the best musicians in Houston and, uh, find the, you know, the best studio that we can get.
We’re going to cut that record and I’m gonna send it to some people out in Nashville. And I was like, man, I’m stoked. Let’s do it. I was about 10 45, 10 50, somewhere around that time. And I hugged his neck and he left. And, uh, I got a message that morning, uh, saying, Hey Seth, we lost Mark last night. And I said, what?
So then I text the lady back. It was Mary and sister. I didn’t know it was Mary and sister. So it was her sister. She said, just call me, here’s my phone number. And I called her and he went home and shot himself, man. At 1114, he was pronounced dead. He left my show at about 10 45. Oh, my
so that’s all memory remains was written for him for Marion. But now when I perform and I say, this is Mark song, namely remain well.
David Hirsch: That’s a very powerful story. And, um, saddens me to think that you lost not only your business, but one of your best
Seth Keiffer: books. He was just cold after he did it right after he did it, they, they called me up and he said, Hey, sir, would you say memory remains at his funeral?
And I was like, Are you serious? And they said, yeah, well that would just, that would make his day. I said, absolutely. So that following Thursday, I went up there, same memory, reminds it as funeral. And then I had my Thursday weekly, big.
David Hirsch: Yikes. Well, you’re quite a, quite a man. Um, I don’t know that the people could endure some of the challenges, the experiences that you’ve had, but, uh, like you said earlier, You know, you are the person, you are, the husband, you are the dad, you are because of these life experiences.
And you know, it’s like you’re being battle-tested, um, along the way, right? These are the real things in life, right. Life and death, and you know, family. So switching gears, um, I’m wondering what advice important takeaways come to mind, uh, when raising a child with differences, if you can hear,
Seth Keiffer: um, Oh man.
It’s tough. It’s hard. There’s nothing easy about it. There’s nothing easy about raising, you know, kids period. There’s nothing easy about raising one with special needs. There’s nothing easy. I go back to what I said. Don’t give up on yourself and don’t give up on them. That’s the best advice I can give you is don’t give up on yourself.
Don’t think you’re failing.
David Hirsch: Well, that’s your story and you’re sticking to it. Thank you for reemphasizing that I’m curious to know, why did you agree to be a mentor father as part of the special father’s network?
Seth Keiffer: Because I stepped into it. I wasn’t born into it and I figure if I can show that it can be done, then there’s another guy out there that can do the same.
David Hirsch: Yeah, well, you’re a great inspiration to all dad, not just dads who might be becoming stepdads. And I just want to thank you for being part of our group.
Seth Keiffer: Absolutely. Let’s
David Hirsch: give a special shout out to our mutual friend, Greg Johnson. Yes. Of night of superstars in Dallas.
Seth Keiffer: So Craig
David Hirsch: for, uh, introducing us because we wouldn’t be talking today.
I wouldn’t know you and Haley, if it wasn’t for Greg’s, uh, Special ability to connect people. Is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?
Seth Keiffer: I just don’t want anybody to think that I’m a perfect dad or a perfect man. I try to do the best I can, and I try to do it with the love of God and I try to do it exuding the love of God, and I fail at it all the time.
But if you put God as your forefront, You might fail, but you will get you, you get right back up
David Hirsch: well-spoken. If somebody wants to get involved or get information on Macy’s miracles or wants to contact you, how would they go about doing that?
Seth Keiffer: Macysmiracles.org.
David Hirsch: macysmiracles.org. Yes. Okay.
Seth Keiffer: Or you can just do Macy’s miracles on Facebook, which that’s probably the best way.
I think that’s why everybody’s going now is. Through social media versus real websites everybody’s got, yeah. You know, a platform on social media. So that would probably be the best way Facebook search Macy’s miracles and it’ll come right up. Excellent.
David Hirsch: So thank you for your time and many insights. As a reminder, Seth is just one of the dads who has agreed to be a mentor father, part of the special father’s network mentoring program for fathers raising a child with special needs.
If you’d like to be a mentor father or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation, your own. Please go to 21stcenturydad.org. Thanks,
Seth Keiffer: absolutely man.
Tom Couch: And thank you for listening to the dad to dad podcast presented by the Special Fathers Network. 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 fathers to support fathers, go to 21stcenturydads.org. That’s 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: If you enjoyed this podcast, please be sure to like us on Facebook and subscribe on iTunes or wherever you listen. The dad to dad podcast is produced by Couch Audio for the Special Fathers Network.