Maybe I am just one of those unexplained mysteries in life. Maybe because I always wondered about my biological father. Maybe that is why I have been so lucky in my life having two “fathers”.
My sons’ father is the best father and grandfather I have ever seen. His unconditional love, his self-sacrificing dedication and his ability to keep giving and giving can not be denied. I believe that the word, “no” is just not a word to him. He has always said “yes” to the needs of his children, and for that matter to me as well. Fathers like Rocco are rare, but I know there are a few out there. For instance, my son, Rocky is a dad like his father. He has the same inner ability to love his daughter so completely and unconditionally. As she grows, I hope she realizes more and more how very wonderful he is and how dedicated he is to her.
My “dad”and my “brother” raised me to be a person who is true to herself, kind to others, and to care about the world around me. My “dad” passed when I was sixteen years old. My brother is still the one I look to for answers. Whether or not he reaizes it, he is still the one I depend on.
Today I want to tell you about my brother, Tommy.
If one could picture the life of a person when they were a child and to realize that what they have been through is no life for any child, then they would know that the man I know as Tommy, who came out of that life better and stronger, is in itself miraculous. They would know that this wonderful man is the most selfless, loving, hard-working man that was ever born.
It was a tough life when my brother was a small child. His father was an alcholic and the venom from this sickness took its ugly poison out on my brother and his siblings. Without going into too much detail, let me suffice to say Tommy took the brunt of that venom. It became so bad that for a time his mom sent him to live for awhile to her sister so he could escape the onslaught. When I was born Tommy was ten years old.
I turned seven when I first started to notice who it was that was nurturing me and making sure I had everything I needed, like food, clothing and shelter. Tommy was now seventeen and graduated High School. He was also the protector for my “mom” and me. Ever since he was able to work he made sure our mom and me were taken care of.
Life wasn’t all bad. He was also a prankster and a loyal friend. Some of the funniest episodes I ever heard were about the pranks my brother would pull on his family, friends and co-workers. When our sister, Joanie passed away at the age of twenty-nine from complications after brain surgery to remove a tumor, she left two small babies behind. One was two years old and the other was six months. While their dad had to keep working, my mom took them in to live with us in our six room tenement apartment in Park Slope. They spent Monday through Friday with us and their dad took them on the weekends. Tommy immediately took on the role of dad to them during those days and had always taken that role on for me. Yes, our siblings helped as well. There was after all, eight of us altogether. I was the youngest. I recall Tommy taking us to the World’s Fair in Flushing, Delancy Street in Manhattan for clothes, and to the local theatre for movies, etc. If we had any treats or toys it was Tommy who bought them. When the boys turned seven and five, their dad remarried a wonderful woman named Eileen. Together they brought the boys to live with them, of course, leaving us left us with heavy hearts because they were more like brothers and sons to us. Years later we now know that it was best for them to leave and have a life with their own dad and stepmom. However, I was still there and Tommy became more like a dad to me than ever and when “daddy” died, it was Tommy who pulled me through just as he did when we lost “mommy” and then did the same when we lost two more of our sisters and our niece. He pulled me out of so many childhood and young adulthood mistakes. He helped me when sickness befell my baby boy, he helped me when I thought I would sink from financial disaster. I cannot recall one time in life good or bad when Tommy wasn’t right there, or just a phone call away. He is the one constant in my life. The person to whom I owe everything.
By now you must have surmised why I chose to write this Father’s Day tribute to my wonderful brother Tommy. There just isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him or even talk to him. He has always been my confidant, my advisor, my father in every sense of the word. Even though I am a grown woman, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin, friend..none of those titles would have been possible without Tommy in my life. He is officially “my brother” but everything he has ever done for me is something a great dad would do. So I want to tell him Happy Father’s Day and that even though he chose not to have children of his own, he has helped raise and has given to all his sisters, nieces and nephews so very much that the title Father belongs to him.
He never truly gets the recognition and appreciation for everything he has always done from his heart, so this small tribute is my way of saying thank you with all my heart for being the best real Dad I never really had.
Happy Father’s Day, Tommy.
And that’s the Way I See It, here in Brooklyn.