7 minutes reading time
"Off The Grid- A Father's Journey" with Fred Fruehan
In this episode of The BOLO Podcast, Author of 'Off The Grid- A Father's Journey' Fred Fruehan is speaking with Mike about his abusive childhood, finding the meaning of family, losing his daughter and the kidnapping of his son in 1982.
His life has been filled with both the great and the tragic. He is using his story to bring hope and inspiration to others; realizing 'the next day, is a new day.'
Summary of Interview with Fred Fruehan:
- Fred was born in San Bernardino, CA.
- He was brought up in a strict Catholic home with his siblings.
- He was born with an abnormal heart with a condition called hyperhidrosis.
- His condition caused his hands and feet to constantly perspire to the point of having to change his socks several times a day and wiping his hands.
- His father had PTSD and would beat Fred and his brothers often. Eventually, he was incarcerated and admitted to a hospital.
- Due to his medical issues, he was not allowed to play sports or swim.
- He was allowed to join the boy scouts.
- He learned how to rebel early so he could do what all of the other kids were doing.
- Between the abuse at home and his medical condition, Fred started drinking and smoking between the ages of 10-11.
- He left home at 16 to escape the poverty, abuse, and abandonment of his household.
- He hitchhiked up the central valley in California and started working on ranches and farms.
- Once he left home, he didn't have any money with no place to live and nothing to eat; 400 miles away from home.
- He came across a woman who allowed him to use her phone to call home and tell his mother he was alright. She fed him and gave him a place to stay for the summer, and found him a job harvesting crops.
- This family didn't have much, but they showed him what a family should be and they shared everything they had with kindness.
- He wanted to contribute to their household, but they wouldn't let him since he needed help.
- He never knew what family life was like until the Chigoyas, and until then he didn't think he'd ever have a family of his own.
- He met and married a woman with an 18-month-old daughter, adopting the girl when she was three years old.
- Fred adopted two of his children, and he says it is the greatest thing he's done in his life.
- All of his children taught him lessons in life.
- With his first marriage, they had one boy and three girls.
- His fourth daughter was born prematurely when his wife was only six months pregnant; she spent her first 2 1/2 months in the hospital.
- This obstacle with his baby in the hospital and having to still provide and care for his other children, taught him how to be a father.
- At 8 months old they found out their daughter was deaf, had hypertonic cerebral palsy, learned to walk at five years old, and was in the hospital 36 times in her nine years of life.
- In 1985, two years before her death, she became an ambassador for the March of Dimes.
- Fred made sure she cold ice skate, sled, and do the activities the other kids were doing.
- When his daughter was sledding, she flipped into the street got up and wanted to do it again. She was resilient.
- She got a blood infection that caused a clot, and she was pronounced brain dead.
- They made all of the arrangements for her funeral, went back to the hospital, and decided to let her pass.
- Losing a child you can get through it, but you will never get over it.
- Fred had gotten sober in 1984 and hadn't had a drink since.
- During the passing of his daughter, his son started drinking and was getting in trouble, so they started going to tough love meetings.
- His 14-year-old son stole a case of beer and served three months in the juvenile hall he was transferred to a group home. His son was getting drugs and sex from a 30-year-old worker at the facility.
- The woman gave the group home an alias at the time of hire and took off with Fred's son.
- His son thought this woman who was taking care of him, but the real reason she was there was to recruit rebellious boys for a gang and taken to a meth lab.
- The gang members at the meth lab were armed and instilled in the boys that if they tried to leave or contact their families, they would kill them all.
- It took years for his son, Freddie to understand that he was kidnapped and this was not his fault.
- His son was in the facility for 35 days and contacted home for a few seconds revealing a few details about the facility.
- They knew he was in an area with low flying airplanes and a convenient store nearby.
- Fred wanted to get his gun and go kill the kidnappers while filled with anger. He knew that the object was to get his son back and that he did not want to kill people.
- They received another phone call with the coordinates of where he was. Fred's wife went to pick him up, and he was home safely.
- Once his son was home, they allowed him to stay the night with his family and then he was in protective custody sent to live with a foster family.
- When his son came back from protective custody, he was not the same and was angry with his family for abandoning him.
- Once you leave your kids in juvenile hall, they are now wards of the state, and you no longer have parental rights.
- His son refused to come home and was living on the streets. He went to jails and then went to prison.
- His book tells his story, how he became who he is, how he came to be a father, and his communication with his son while he was in prison.
- Fred and his son grew to have a great relationship over the years.
- His son was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, and PTSD.
- Eventually, his son went to college with a degree in health science and English.
- After finishing college, Fred had hope that he and his son could have a normal life together. His son explained that his demons were worse than ever.
- His son went off the grid and decided that he was done with being in pain and going to therapy.
- He ended his life the following week and chose to end the pain with a gun-shot wound to the head.
- He cleaned his room, gave all of his belongings and clothes to a homeless shelter.
- This devastated Fred, but he had to accept his son's death for he was no longer in pain.
- Life is not all good. Life has the seemingly bad and the good. This is what we learn by.
- Fred was in a significant depression from the loss of both of his children.
- Depression and PTSD can kill and be contagious in Fred's opinion.
- Fred's mission is to give hope and inspiration to others.
- Fred knows that he's had a full life and now he has something to give people.
- Overall Fred feels as he's had a good life and was rich in his experiences.
- Mike owes being successful to the negatives and growth opportunities through challenging moments in life.
- Fred started his business out of no one wanting to touch or hire him.
- Fred never pictured God as throwing these bad things at him.
- You can pray when things are good, not just when they're bad.
- Fred's book will be available in paperback and downloadable ebook in January 2019.
- He speaks English, Spanish, and sign language.
- When you are feeling down and hopeless, this too shall pass. The next day is a new day.
- Off The Grid: A Father's Journey is available in October 2018.
Keystone Uniforms in Riverside, Santa Ana, and Long Beach is the official sponsor of The BOLO Podcast. Follow them on Instagram @keystoneuniforms. They are offering 15% off (all non-contracted purchases) to our listeners by just mentioning 'The BOLO Podcast' in stores.
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