There was something missing growing up, in childhood, in adolescence, as a man. I was missing a dad.
Superman (aka David) in Webster Groves, Missouri about 1962 with his brother Greg
Coaches. Professors. Fathers of close friends. There were many important men in my life, but no one really filled the gap my biological father left.
Dad left when I was ten, after my parents divorced. But really, he was “absent” all along. At home, detached and closed. My five siblings and I seemed invisible, an inconvenience. When asked about family history, our grandparents particularly, Dad refused to answer. We were forbidden, in fact, from asking.
And then Arnold “Arne” Böcker entered my life — the father of my wife.READ MORE
Sometimes in life, the one we call Dad isn’t our real father. For me, “Dad” was my grandfather, Sam Solomon. He was my greatest role model, a trusted confidant, and my best friend. He taught me by his example many lessons about fatherhood.
Sam and his older brother Joe owned a chain of pharmacies in Chicago, during prohibition and through the 40’s, known as Solomon Bros. Drug Stores. Officially retired at 45, his work was far from complete. He went on to serve as a volunteer pharmacist for an additional 45 years. A man of great humility — he kept just one nice suit for special occasions. READ MORE
Since 1997, the children of Illinois have written more than 400,000 essays about their dads. The subject is “What My Father Means to Me.” It’s part of the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative’s annual Fatherhood Essay Contest.
My friend, David Hirsch, founded this project and was kind enough to allow Savvy Dad to share three of the best from the pen — or crayon — of three special kids, word for word.
“What My Father Means to Me”
From David, 1st Grade:
“My father is the most important man in my life. He was loving, caring, thoughtful and cool.
He had a lungs disease that made it hard to breathe. But that did not stop him.
He used to bring my sister and I to the park. He sat at my side while he helped me learn my ABC’s, count my 123, and teach me how to read. He used to call me Bud-Bud. READ MORE
Country music icon. Thousands of performances. Millions of fans. Folks look at me with pity or awe. Awe, because I’m a Twitty, after all. Pity, because everyone knows famous musicians don’t have much time for their kids. It’s true.
Young Michael with granddad Papaw
Meetings. Practices. Recording. Interviews. Touring. Dad was constantly on the road. I didn’t see him a lot growing up. It’s what he was. It’s what he was born to be.
But don’t feel sorry for me. Growing up, I had three dads — not one. Papaw (Dalton Floyd Jenkins), my granddad, he was a steamboat captain on the mighty Mississippi. My uncle Howard was also there for me. And Conway, my natural dad.
When Dad was on tour, he would call every day. But he arranged more than a chat on the line. When Dad was away, I had Uncle Howard and Papaw for play.READ MORE