“If there was one word that could’ve best described my dad, that word would not have been concise. It was quite the opposite – he was never at a loss for words. And this manifested itself in various ways. For example, he had a habit of sending me really long text messages with multiple questions all in one single text. He would even write “love, dad” at the end of them, just like someone would in an actual letter that you would put in an envelope and send through the mail. And despite the fact that it showed a complete lack of understanding as to how text messages work, and that I’d have to go through the tedious process of replying with multiple answers to his various questions, I always knew it was coming from a thoughtful, loving place. By the way, if you thought his text messages were long, you can only imagine the novels he wrote that were disguised as work emails.
The bottom line was that the man could talk. And naturally, it was only fitting that he liked to tell stories as well. Growing up, my brother and I served as the captive audience for all of his various tales – some good, others painfully long with no clear direction. But whether I realized it or not, it also ingrained in me a knack for storytelling which remains to this day.
So as this story goes, back in May of last year – during the height of the Pandemic, I was out of work and searching for what to do next with my life when I received an out-of-the-blue phone call. On the other end was a friendly acquaintance named Ryan who proposed the idea of writing a children’s book. Only a few days later, I caught a moment of inspiration and began conceptualizing an entire series about a family and a little boy who would request a bedtime story each night. And in each book, a different family member would tell him a unique story all in rhyme. I called it The Bedtime Chronicles. In no time I had written the first draft for the first book of the series in which a dad tells his son a funny, superhero-like story about himself titled – Legend of the Dadman.
I showed it to my dad and he was delighted by it. How could he not be? He was the original Dadman, the inspiration for it. But the joy was short-lived. Only a month after I had written the book, my dad began experiencing concerning symptoms that would eventually be diagnosed as liver cancer. It was devastating.
Over the next few months, I split my time between working on the book and hospital visits. The book became my one welcomed distraction as I helplessly watched my father’s health deteriorate. He became so weak that his voice was reduced to a whisper and for a man who had always loved to talk, it was perhaps the most unmerciful consequence of the disease. Still, he loved watching the book come to life, and even though he could barely muster enough energy to talk, looking at the illustrations always lifted his spirits, and we’d share knowing nods about the fact that I had written about a dad telling his son a story, just as he did with me for all those years. The whole thing felt strangely preordained. I told him I would dedicate the book to him as a small gesture for everything he had given me throughout my life. It was the least I could do.
On November 15th of last year, my father, Jay Siskin, lost his battle with cancer, and my life was forever changed. And while my family and I continue to grieve his passing to this day, I find myself grateful to have had him as my dad for 37 years and to be able to honor his memory in a way that embodies the spirit and soul of the man that he was. On the back cover of every book, there’s a star with a little J inside it so that I can always be reminded of the man who inspired it. My hope is that this book brings the same joy to families that he brought to all those that knew him.
He talked the talk. He walked the walk. And we’ll never forget him. He was the ultimate Dadman.”
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