Welcome to Harvey Millican!
On this page you will encounter the writing of a man who loves writing, loves his wife and kids, loves pop culture, and loves his faith.
Here you will find:
-faith & spirituality
and a whole lot more!
By the way, don't take me too seriously.
Harvey’s Cast of Characters
New to my blog? Wondering who all these people are whom I so lovingly mention from time to time? Here's a handy guide to the characters in Harvey's universe!
Harvey: That's your's truly. Not my real name. I'm a faithful Catholic, husband, father, teacher, former TV producer, and writer who's just trying to make a difference in this little piece of earth I call home. I have a penchant for coffee, disco, gin, and anything fun.
Mrs. Harvey: My lovely wife since 2007. Why she married me, I'll never know; but I'm sure glad she did. Love of my life, mother of my children... She puts up with me, expecting nothing in return. So far, she's gotten a pretty good return on her investment.
Son/Sonny Boy/Young Man: Our seven eight-old son. Loves (currently) machines, Legos, Star Wars, the History Channel, weather phenomena, his sister, and chicken nuggets. Apple of my eye, he reminds me of why I am so proud of my former reproductive abilities.
Baby Girl: Our seven year-old daughter. She has my eyes, my heart, and my birthday (even to the exact minute!). Loves girly things, her brother, and expressing herself artistically. Takes after her dad in appearance but that doesn't seem to have affected her beauty. Reason #2 I'm in awe of my siring capabilities.
(My) Mom: Amazing woman who brought me into the world. Doesn't get to visit us much in person due to trans-continental distance but she and I speak via FaceTame almost every day. A native New Yorker, she and I laugh at the same twisted things. If you like this blog, thank her. She knows her kids and encouraged me to write years ago.
Wilma: OK, so that's her real name. Texas born and bred, Wilma is my mother-in-law, cancer-warrior, prayer partner, drinking buddy, and one of the most genuinely awesome human beings on the planet.
le.Rheims: My baby sister and fellow blogger. She writes far better than I do and never lets me forget it. She prefers to be known as a well-known socialite and composer of light verse but I think sister, wife, and mother of 8 suits her better.
More to come...
Tag Archives: familyImage Image
Two days ago we celebrated the 35th anniversary of my twin sister’s passing. I say we “celebrated” yet I did little more than treat myself to a few hundred extra calories. But that’s part of a new bulking diet and I’ll write more on that in another post. Those calories, by the way, came from sprouted grain wheat bread, natural peanut butter, and hard boiled eggs; not exactly a trip to the Dairy Queen. In years past I actually celebrated the day with more festivity. We’d go out to dinner at least. But times are different and after shelling out quite a bit to cover travel expenses for Dad’s funeral, a low-key remembrance is fitting.
Today was the anniversary of my brother’s passing. That would be my older brother Owen who was six when he died as a result of the same house fire that claimed my sister. There’s one more in two days and I’ll cover him then.
Imagine, if you will, what that week was like for our family. Put aside for the moment the absolute tragedy and shock of losing your home and all your worldly possessions in the middle of the night (not to mention the trauma of how it went down). Now imagine you’re a relatively young couple with an enormous family. My parents were in their early 40’s. For Dad it must have been hell. Before the fire’s even out your wife is lying critically injured from a jump out the second floor window, your children are being loaded into ambulances to be dispersed to multiple hospitals in the area, your house is gone, it’s cold, there’s snow on the ground, you’re in your boxers because that’s what you went to bed in. And you’ve just realized that your four year-old daughter is dead.
If ever there was a case for daily mass, this moment proves to me where the man got his strength.
Two days later with your wife and many of your children still in hospitals being treated for broken bones from being tossed into the snow from the second floor porch and while you’re planning a funeral for your child, your six year-old son succumbs to the smoke inhalation.
As with my twin, I have no memories of my brother. Years later I did use his middle name for my son (and to honor the pope). Yet, he is the brother I always wished I’d gotten to spend more time with. He was the next closest sibling to me in age (after my twin). Thinking of all this three and a half decades later I’m completely in awe of my father. When my kids get sick I freak out. I can’t imagine losing either of them, let alone both.
Do you know what Dad did?
He planned a double funeral.
These are my first conscious memories. Standing in the funeral home I remember the thousands of people who came, and to the church for the mass. I remember it was Catholic Schools Week and the principal of the parish grade school halted whatever activities were scheduled. Close to 700 children in perfect uniform in the church with us. I remember a procession of priests that, to me, seemed to go on forever. The Benedictine abbot from my father’s alma mater, I think, was there. I’m sure one of my siblings will correct me if he wasn’t but I remember seeing a mitre. Coincidentally, I think this is where my love of Catholic schools was truly formed and to this day it is my life’s work. I remember things like the drive to the cemetery with a line of cars stretching well past where I could see. And I remember feeling like this was huge, like my life was completely different now. And I remember gray skies, light snow, and cold. And from their grave I could see the Twin Towers and I was a twin and that was cool.
He never talked much about it. It’s a wonder the stress of that week didn’t kill him outright. The thing is that he was a man. He was an honest to goodness, genuine man; without swagger, without false machismo – the kind of man we used to hear about and read about and see in Frank Capra films. He wasn’t soulless, he wasn’t a robot. He cried. But he knew and lived his faith. These two were safe and supremely happy. The rest of us needed love, protection, and support. Who had time to wallow, though that wallowing was more than deserved. The fact that he lived another 35 years is a testament to his faith.
And I’ve realized I need to be more like him. I need to return to mass every single day without exception. I need to provide more for my family. I need to show my children what true strength is. From my dad I learned that it involves a healthy dose of having a lot of fun with your kids.
There’s a reason for that. Dad used to say (especially in the last few years):
“Some men invest in their retirement plans. I invested in children.”
Well, I started out talking about my brother’s anniversary and wound up talking about Dad. Please forgive me for these posts of late. I certainly don’t intend to be morbid or to depress anyone. I walked into a friend’s classroom the other morning before school started and he was crying. “Why’d you do that?” he asked, almost angrily. Turns out he was reading my last post about my sister. “Do you enjoy making me cry?” Sidenote: if I told you he’s also the trainer-friend I’ve mentioned before then you can imagine it was a kind of payback for the tears I’ve shed that I’ll never be in his shape. But I never want to make people cry. “Some men can move heavy weights around,” I said. “I guess I can move words?”
Truly I am celebrating the beautiful lives of the people in my family and I do rejoice for them. I’m also realizing so much more now that he’s gone how very special a man my father is. And I’m seeing now so acutely just how much I’ve wanted to be like him. And for now I’ll stop writing.
I couldn’t let this day go by without pausing to wish someone very close to me a happy anniversary.
35 years ago today, my twin sister went home to heaven. Although I have no real memories of our short time on earth together, the bond between twins is very powerful and I know she has been with me in spirit all this time.
Now she has a long-expected visitor with her. I imagine the moment Dad breathed his last and his soul entered the heart of his Creator that the first thing he did was to behold the face of his little girl. What joy that must have been for both of them! She, along with my three brothers, have waited patiently for him in a place where there is no time nor space. They welcomed him home as if no time had passed. I imagine whatever the spiritual, body-less equivalent of a young, vigorous Daddy running toward his children and wrapping his arms around them is; he did it. He had faith all these years on earth that he would be with them again. It’s strange to me that all of these things happened around the same, dark, cold time of year. The five of them now have anniversaries within weeks of each other. That’s nice in a way. We on earth can saunter through their remembrance of their lives all at once.
Thinking back on this particular day I remember the last time I saw Dad. When I leaned in to give him a kiss and say good bye I whispered “Tell her I said hello.”
I know he did. And I know that joyous reunion is going to go on in heaven for as long as eternity will allow.
And I am happy for them.
One year ago almost to the day I posted a picture. It was an image of a beautiful arrangement of red roses and baby’s breath with exquisite ribbon intertwining throughout. It was a floral spray that sat atop my brother’s casket. The flowers were placed there by my mom and dad. They had just lost their oldest son at the age of 51 to pancreatic cancer.
The words on that card were almost unimportant compared to the realization that no parents should ever have to write such a card. And yet, he was the not the first child they had buried.
Remarkable people, Mom and Dad. Strong, faithful, resilient.
Last Friday night I stood in the same room of the same funeral parlor. I looked upon the man in the casket and he looked so much like my brother. Peacefully reposing was the body of my beloved father. DNA’s a funny thing. Last year when my brother died and Dad, already 79 years-old, I think he knew it was OK to grieve a bit. You see, the first time they lost children, three of them, we had had a house fire in the middle of the night. Mom’s injuries were severe enough that she could not attend wakes and funerals. And Dad, well he was marvelous but he had to return to work, hold the family together, and help us move forward. He couldn’t grieve then. He was 46. This time he could experience the terrible pain he could not give into then.
It came as a shock to no one when the slowing down of his life and the “letting go” seemed to hasten. It was time. He knew where he was going and he wanted to go there. Listen, the man was a daily mass-goer. By my estimation he received Holy Communion somewhere in the neighborhood of 27,000 times in his life. He fought the good fight, ran the race extremely well, and left a legacy of Wisdom, who is always vindicated by her children.
Turning toward the same casket spray I had seen the year before I stooped over to read this card. Different man, different message.
We expect that spouses will die and leave one behind. What she wrote, though, summed up the man perfectly. a “man with true convictions, undying faith,” and one who “provided our family with love”.
The signature? I don’t ever remember a time when my father didn’t refer to my mother as his “child bride”.
Forgive me for posting so many times about this. Daddy (that’s what I always called him except when I was calling him by his first name, Dick) was a man among boys. People simply don’t live the kind of life he lived anymore. But that didn’t stop him from insisting that his children try. He took care of us. He loved us. He loved my mom – she was everything to him. He loved playing with his grandkids who were the joy of his old age. I had moved away about ten years ago. My children didn’t know the joy of that special relationship and spending time with their grandfather. The best I can do is to try feebly to be like him so they can see who he was. But I was doing what he taught me to do. I was trying to teach the faith and provide a loving home for my wife and children.
It’s only been a week. Trust me, I’ll have much more to post about him. For the moment, though, look at that card again. I mentioned this to a close friend. Showed him the picture. He’s a younger guy, mid-20’s, married a few year – long enough to know the value of sacrifice but not long enough to see its fruits. Then I asked him this question.
Wouldn’t you die to know that your wife could say that of you when you die and truly mean it?
So I’ve been away for a while.
I’ve got to stop inviting that upon myself, the lawsuits.
So how’ve you been? Everything good? Oh me? Where’ve I been? Funny you should ask…
It all started back around Easter when I heard from someone that a mutual “friend” thought that my writing was not very good, that in fact I was the only one who believed it to be decent in quality. I had also heard around the same time that another friend believed I had used my brother’s death as a way to garner sympathy.
So, 1) I don’t need sympathy from anyone for anything. To clarify what this person was saying… I posted a picture of my brother – the last picture from the last time I would see him alive. I mentioned how I hadn’t known him all that well. What I was trying to say was that I hadn’t actually known him that well and this was a source of sadness. But I was thankful that God had given us this time in the final moments of his life to spend any time with him. To be of any service to my brother as he lay dying was a blessing to me.
And 2) who cares if you don’t like my writing? I like it. My kids will like it when they eventually get around to reading it. That’s all that matters. So there.
Want to catch up? Work’s good. Still teaching. Nothing new on that front. Running? It’s still hard as hell. But I’m sticking with it. I forget sometimes to celebrate the accomplishments. I ran five miles the other night. That’s a PR for me. I also learned that this is runner-speak for “personal record”. Hey, I’ve never run that far before in my life. It was slow but I did it and I’m happy. Trainer’s been busy so I haven’t had a chance to get a tune-up on my routine – you know, see what needs tweaking and the like. Of course trainer’s still rockin’ the fitness world. I’m still not sure how he finds time to teach and pose for covers of men’s fitness magazines while raising a family. Perhaps we’ll get to catch up before my body catches up to my schemes and starts hiding fat in places I’ll never find.
I also noticed that my feet have grown. Ain’t that a bitch? But I looked it up and it’s apparently for real. When people start running on a regular basis their feet can actually go up a size. This would explain why my now-size 12 feet are stretching out my size 11 dress shoes.
Finally, my amazing son just had a birthday. He turned 8. I don’t know where the time went. It’s like I blinked one day and a young man was standing before me sharing his ideas for what we should get Mommy for Mother’s Day. I love him so much (and my little girl). We had a party for him, a small affair. In fact, it was even smaller after the Texas-tornado-season weather forced a few people to drop out. He didn’t mind. We went to play lunar mini-golf. Yep, there’s a place in the mall that does glow in the dark miniature golf. My mother-in-law found and booked the place. We both determined that it was the kind of place that would be occupied by a different business the next time we were at this mall, like a Christmas-all-the-time shop or something.
While playing “golf” one of my son’s friends expressed a desire to use the bathroom. Being the only man in the group of adults, I was given the task of taking him. Being a fly-by-night operation, this place did not have it’s own facilities. Out into the mall we headed, me and a kid I had just met, who’s name I wasn’t quite sure I had remembered. To top it off, he wasn’t really listening to me and my pleas that he walk a bit faster and keep up with me as we headed down a mall corridor to a public bathroom. Gee this is sounding like a Dateline special.
I walked into the men’s room and saw my little party guest head for a stall. Being a dad I jumped in front to check the cleanliness of the stall. Three stalls later I allowed him some privacy. And then it happened. I stood outside a bathroom stall while its occupant began making the most ghastly whining noises I’ve ever heard. “You almost done in there, buddy?” I asked. “NO! My stomach hurts,” came the reply. “And what time is it?” he bellowed. “About 7:15, kid,” I replied. He shouted back “It’s almost my bedtime.” Fifteen minutes later I think he must have finished. Either that or cholera is a quicker moving malady than I thought.
We walked back to the party where our little friend proceeded to lie on the floor. What he was doing there I know not. My wife did happen to reveal to me that his mom had mentioned that this was his first time going to a party by himself. “Aha!'” I thought. “Time for me to slip into best friend mode.” And that’s something I’ve always done well. I think it comes from my childhood. Growing up without my twin I always felt a little out of place in the world. I’ve been extraordinarily blessed to have such wonderful people surround me through those times where I’ve felt more alone than others. My sisters taught me great kindness. Always. My best friend Dan (I’ve mentioned him before) has been a kindred soul, a brother to me and ever since we met in college is always around with a bawdy joke or an encouraging word. A thousand mile distance only means it’s usually by text. And more recently trainer has been a good friend, albeit one who pushes me around (in a good way) when he has a spare minute between running mud marathons. Why the tangent? Because these people have given me example and reinforced what I always knew – that sometimes people just need a little bit of kindness. So I sat down with our son’s guest and started with the questions. “So, kiddo, got any brothers or sisters?…” And like that, he opened up and after a few minutes, the dysentery was gone. Our little friend was happy for a moment. And all because some people in my life were kind to me and I could extend a little of that kindness to another.
Forgive me for my length. I wanted to say thank you to my dear sister Maureen. We spoke the other night and she asked why I’d stopped writing. “[My daughter] and I both agreed it would be a shame for you to stop writing. Trust me your words help all of us. We laugh. We cry. We share. It all helps. I found myself needing to read your work today.”
Someone needed me. And that’s reason enough to keep going.
Thanks, guys, for sticking with me. Now tell your friends.