Standout Story

Keynote Speaker
Danny Szeremet

Daniel Szeremet
MPM Standout Story

A long time ago, a child was born. For reasons unclear to that boy, he was raised in another family. Over time, things would be revealed to him.

When the boy entered school, he learned that his last name was different from the family’s name. He learned how to spell his newly discovered name. Years later he found out his last name was spelled differently. Who knew?

His life was typical, living with “Grandma” and “Grandpa” and “brother”, actual grandson in the family. He learned the curriculums up to 2nd Grade. He learned that he was smart, because Grandma told him. She also told him that he was good.

He always looked forward to the occasional visit with his father and older brother, who had been living with Dad. Sometimes he would stay over on weekends.

One summer, the boy noticed that he was not being returned home. When he alerted Dad of the lapse in time, he learned that he would now be living there with his Dad and brother on the South Side of town.

The boy’s life got harder. While his Dad was eking out a living as a cab driver, they had no car. So walking was the mode of transportation to and from the grocery store, the laundry mat. When Dad was home, chores were the older of the day.

When Dad was not home, my brother and I hung out in the neighborhood park or library after school until he came home later with the key to the house. On Saturdays, we traveled across town to go to the Boys’ Club while our Dad went to work. At age 7, I was “free range”, with a bus pass.

At the Boys’ Club, my brother and I earned merit points, doing cleanup and chores as assigned by the counselors. These points added up to summer camp after school lets out. We also collected door to door for March of Dimes. Dad, taught me adventure, responsibility and the ability to take on challenges.

The challenge came quickly – Loss!

At eight years old , my Father died. We found him on the living room couch, eyes glazed. We called for help. A few days later, he passed.

I tried to deny his departure. But Reality insisted otherwise.

We moved in with an aunt and uncle. With three babies of their own, they were too young to take on three extra children. (My older sister had moved in with our Dad months before he passed. Until then, my sister was raised by another family, like me.)

The following month, President Kennedy was assassinated. So all three television channels covered the event and the ensuring funeral for days on end. The atmosphere was death, first my father’s, then the President’s, being portrayed in black and white television images.

Even though I had seen President Kennedy in a recent parade on National Avenue, and my father had shaken hand with John Kennedy in the past, I received my first exposure to politics from my aunt, who spouted about the conspiracies surrounding the President’s death and other political theories.

That was when I began to learn about skepticism. Soon after I learned about unworthiness. As I moved through the ages known as the socialization period, I received conflicting message about important issues. I learned to fear other groups of people, even though I had lived with them for years.

The religion placed before me taught greater separation from other denominations, lest ye fail and receive eternal damnation.

On the lighter side, we had moved to a newly built neighborhood near the city limits, where fields of apple trees, cherry trees, and other northern fruit abounded. It was perfect reward system for a “free range” kid already eager to climb every tree possible. I made a lot of friends.

Even with all the fun I did have during those “wonder years”, I felt a yearning to return to my original “family”, because I felt something missing at home. I knew there should be more. As I did from the moment I left, I wanted to be back with Grandma.

With prayer, determination and faith, I requested admittance to the county juvenile facilities. This meant I would be housed in a juvenile hall for the next four years, or until someone took that young teen as foster child. I put my faith that Grandma would find out about my availability, and request to have me as their foster child.

After months of processing, I transitioned to my original and final childhood home and family, back to Grandma. The neighborhood where I moved to, was reported to be the poorest in Milwaukee. And I felt the richest I had ever felt.

I was scathed during my absence from Grandma’s home.

Moreover, I left some unfinished business in the other neighborhood with the fields of fruit trees, and someone also very special, but in a different way. That’s a story for another time, that’s a story that took two songs for me to describe fully.

But for now... A song for Grandma...

Listen for yourself.

Custom Songwriter
Danny Szeremet

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