Not sure what to write here. I’ve felt conflicted in a lot of ways.
Many respect, really, about how I feel each time this day rolls around. It’s always been so closely linked to my birthday that it has either been an incredibly unpleasant moment in time, or I was simply numb the whole way through.
Never knew my biological father.
He was an abusive alcoholic.
He was a first generation American, his parents came over from Sicily.
His name? He went by Thomas.
However, he was actually Gaetano Milici.
He didn’t want to appear foreign so he adopted Thomas and chose to pronounce my last name as Mi-li-see. Instead of Mi-lee-chee.
I pronounce it the way he did, but only because my mother kept his name after she fled from Philadelphia (where I and my two brothers were born and he was from) to return to her native New Orleans.
Most of my friends do not realize I was not born here in my beloved Crescent City, but I’m a native. No one would ever doubt that. :)
We are such a welcoming place to any outsider. All you need have is passion for life and pride in who you are and where you are. We are pretty serious about loving New Orleans.
Anyway, my mother had to lie to us as kids as we bounced from bad neighborhood to bad neighborhood about why our ‘father’ was not a part of our life. Would not send money. Would not show up. Would not call.
In reflection, I can see her eyes misty when she would explain things to us, but it was hard as a child to see through your own tears into someone else’s and for such different reasons regarding the same fucking thing.
He wasn’t there for us.
I’m not hung up on it, really, I find more people around me are sensitive to the fatherlessness (yeah, I made that word up, lol) I had than I was after I got to a certain age.
My mom would often tell us we should, when we could, go visit Philly and see him. See his family. She said his family would welcome us openly and warmly despite his lecherous ways.
I often told her to stop telling me to do that.
She one day asked me why.
I told her flatly, “Because if I see that man, I’ll kill him. He wants no part of me, trust that.”
She never once told me I should visit him again.
My memories of him are very blurred and scant in quality and quantity.
I do vaguely remember the snow.
I remember getting a Chewbacca birthday cake.
I have crappy photos of these events.
There was the time I climbed into our station wagon and played around with the sticks and gears in the front see on an inclined driveway. I accidentally shifted the car out of park and away we went, family members and my mom holding an infant Thomas in her arms diving away from the car.
Ah, good times when you’re tiny!
The only clear recollection I have of my ‘father’ is of him and my mother arguing at the top of the flight of stairs and him striking her and her falling down them.
She’s told me countless times over the years that that memory, she recalls vividly, and that it was one of the few times he did not hit her. That she actually fell and he was lunging to grab her.
I love my mom.
Truly, I do.
But I don’t believe her.
She’s always been so protective. Too much so.
Yeah, I call bullshit on that one.
She did say that I often would watch sports on his lap, and that we’d go to the local deli and they had these huge barrels of imported olives marinating and that my ‘father’ would go grab scoops and put them in the bags, and there I was struggling to reach up to do any of these things trying to mimic him.
To this day I’m addicted to sports, and I adore olives.
I don’t think either passion has anything to do with him.
I don’t think any of my passions or myself have to do with him.
He died of liver failure.
He had the nerve in his dying years to call the house.. but he did not have the nerve to do it himself.
I fucking answered, of course.
Had to take calls for my mom’s seamstress business.
“Milici residence, may I ask who is calling?”
Some woman came on the line and asked if I was Brian Milici.
She was in the same home as my ‘father’ and she said he wanted to talk to me and my brothers and my mother.
“Would you like to talk to your father?”
“No, but do tell him he’s late on the dropping dead part. Maybe his liver can speed that up.”
She didn’t know what to say.
I hung up.
She called back as I was telling my mother what happened.
She ended up taking the phone, I walked out.
She spoke to him, I didn’t ask about what.
She did say he didn’t even remember my mom’s name right.
Awesome. Fucking loser.
Every good gene I got wasn’t from his blood, that much I’m certain.
So eventually my mom remarried to a guy us kids thought was great.
He was a pothead, though, and when I say that I mean it in the “lazy loser” kind of way.
Their marriage was contentious to put it mildly.
My older brother (who is pretty much a loser, maybe my father did pass some things on..) Mark and I were altar boys for their wedding. My mom married in the Church the second go round since the first one wasn’t done inside the Church.
Anyway, I recall vividly their fights.
My mother was volatile.
She would throw down with anyone over us, and that I did not wholly respect, but somewhat admired? In a twisted way? I guess.
I think sometimes the better part of valor is walking away.
She never walks away.
I recall getting into fist fights with him protecting my mom during their arguments.
In retrospect, I can see him outside our apartment, scrambling to get away from me or Mark. I forget which, and my mother running into the house and grabbing his clothes and throwing them onto the sidewalk.
He’s pleading with her to stop and trying to collect his stuff when she comes out with his prized laptop. This was back in the mid-80s and he taught me how to play chess on it.
He shrieked and asked her not to do it.
She threw it down on the pavement.
He looked so broken then.
I don’t know how I feel about that event to this day.
It’s not a good feeling, at least.
Another time, it was Christmas, and he had been kicked out of the apartment. He came back, anyway, but she’d dead-bolted the doors, so he couldn’t get in.
The front porch of the shotgun double we lived in had a window beside it and our Christmas tree was standing in front of it all lit up.
He ended up shattering the window, I think with a brick? Not sure. And trying to get his arm in to unlock the door.
When all I recall was a fountain of blood.
My mom had somehow gotten nicked on the side of her foot I think it was? And blood was shooting so high into the air, like well above my head. Maybe five feet?
He ends up getting in and we rushed her to the ER. They said the reason the blood was so excessive was it hit an artery, but by the time they’d processed her they couldn’t really find the tiny prick. They figured it’d healed up enough, which surprised them given the blood-soaked rags.
I got my mom’s sterling constitution in that sense.
I always say we’re like roaches, we’re tough to kill.
Eloquent, I know. :P
Eventually they finally went their separate ways, thankfully.
But those were my two male role models, if you can call them that.
I wanted to be nothing like them.
Thomas and I celebrate Father’s Day and Mother’s Day for my mom since she was both for us.
She’s in rough shape.
Growing up I wanted only three things – to be a good man, a better husband, and by far an even better than that father.
Here I am staring at 37 years old, and I’m nowhere close to having a family.
I’m uncertain if that matters so much to me anymore.
I have enough to deal with with just trying to be the first one.
Anyway, to all of the very good men and good father’s who got to celebrate yesterday I applaud you.
The world needs a lot more of you.
May you always find your smile.
Last updated June 22, 2015