For years I told anyone who would listen. My father was no father at all. The drinking, the carousing. The child support checks that never came. Mom and I moved away when I was nine. I would not see him again until I was a man.
The young Pierre and his father
“Maybe he did the best he could,” said my ever-forgiving mother, time and again. She and Dad kept in touch — some. She even sent him my report cards and letters. But I refused to write him a message or even acknowledge him.
But one night, one movie, one memory suddenly changed it all. I discovered that Dad was not so much a bad dad as a horribly haunted man.
Home from college, Mom and I plopped down, TV dinners in our laps. The movie: 1964’s “Black Like Me.” James Whitmore portrayed a white journalist going undercover as a black man. He traveled through the deep South. The insults. The denigration. It’s no easy film to watch—especially knowing it’s based on a true story. READ MORE
At 16, I boarded a bus. A dirty knapsack, a wad of ones. It wasn’t much, but it was enough. I couldn’t wait to get the heck out of that stiflingly small California town … and my home.
The bus headed to Tennessee…
Days later, in Tennessee — I’d arrived at my “new home.” The plan? To become famous (but what did I know). In my teenage brain, it was a plan, perfectly laid, perfectly played.
Until… I got caught. The Tennessee fuzz picked me up. Drug me downtown. Threw me in juvenile hall. They knew. And I finally confessed. A runaway from way out West.
Yes, my cross-country jaunt was a first. But it was hardly the first time I’d run away. From the age of 12 my vanishing act was so fine-tuned it would give Houdini ideas on how to disappear. For weeks at a time, I’d surf between couches of friends and strangers. I was rebellious. I ran wild. I sometimes staggered over state lines. READ MORE
Today’s story is from Brian Hague about his dad, Greg Hague.
Winter of ’92. I was 14. Denver bound. A father-son ski trip. Dad had a conference for his company there, too. I would finally get to see him “perform” for a big audience.
Dad and me before our spaghetti dinner, 1992
The first day was incredibly fun! Bombing the slopes, racing to the bottom on every run. A battle against each other. Against ourselves. Against the mountain. We capped the day with an incredible spaghetti dinner.
The next morning — the conference was HUGE! Five hundred people looked like five thousand! I was terrified. What if he choked? Froze up?
I sat in the back corner, holding my breath as Dad took the stage. What happened next remains one of my most vivid memories, and a valuable lesson on life. No outlines. No cue cards. No charts or graphs. He spoke to that crowd like he was speaking to us at the dinner table. Totally relaxed. Poised and assertive. Funny and engaging. READ MORE
Another freezing winter in small town Britton, Michigan. Another pregnant cow, ready for birth. But it was different this time. Dad yanked and tugged. He tried hard to coax her into the barn. She wouldn’t budge.
Dad, Bob, and his granddaughters
He even went back out late into the night. Mom was in labor. But she wouldn’t move. Shivering, exhausted, Dad retreated for a few hours sleep, praying she would hold ‘til morning. No such luck.
He was up before daylight, but it was too late. Frozen. Shaking. Barely alive. The mother left her baby for dead. Natural instinct.
My dad’s natural instinct? He didn’t hesitate. He heaved up all 50 pounds of that slimy, wet calf. He sprinted 300 yards, straight back to the house… a dying calf would not survive in the barn.READ MORE
My dad said lots in very few words. In one sentence he often said all. These nuggets of savvy I call “Chubby Rules,” named for my dad.
I’ve shared Chubby Rules with my sons for 25 years. Some were from Dad. Others I’ve gathered along the way. At Savvy Dad, we write stories about remarkable dads. What they do. What they say. How they impact their kids.
Today we do something unique. It’s a collection of lessons from an array of great dads. It’s a gold mine of savvy in very few words — modeled after Chubby Rules from my very own dad. Here’s an original Chubby Rule:
“Learn something about everything, everything about something.”
A father’s mistakes can echo through generations. I would know. My Dad’s life mistakes echoed through mine. And mine, through my sons’ lives.
Grady with his twins, 30 yrs. ago
I’m Grady Mosby. A father. A husband. My twin boys, now 32 years old, are fathers themselves. I can be proud of my life now — I’m a Christian, born-again. A family man. A businessman.
But it was a long, ugly road to get where I am. Some thought I’d never make it (including myself). Alcohol, drugs, women — You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen and done (I sometimes don’t believe them myself).
A blizzard had just ravaged the state. Schools closed. Perilous roads. Everything froze, all covered with ice. Dad took me out in the cold on a long trek through the woods. We were alone, isolated deep in the trees. My hands became numb. Eyes started to burn. Legs ached. Feet froze. Cheeks were red as a plum.
Matt, age 4, and Dad in Bryce Mountain, VA
Silence. Dad said not a word. Neither did I. Complain? Yes, that’s what I wanted to do. But I knew my dad. I could sense, this was no time to whimper and moan. After a while I began to slow down. Could I go on? I wasn’t sure. But Dad was — we walked on.
At the crest, the sun bathed the mountains in pink-orange bliss. Suddenly Dad stopped, standing cold still. Truly, you could hear the snow melt in the glistening mountaintop sun. That’s how quiet it was.
My name is Matt Benedick. This is a story about my dad, Gerry. READ MORE