Anthony Mielke was born and raised in Minnesota with his mother, stepfather, and five younger siblings, unaware of his Puerto Rican heritage on his paternal side. He studied philosophy at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul and then earned his master’s and doctorate in family and marriage therapy. Today, after discovering his heritage, he uses writing to explore themes of identity, isolation, spirituality, and healing through an introspective lens. He lives with his wife and three children in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he is an assistant professor in marriage and family therapy at Mount Mercy University and practices therapy.
“As a young child, I found a picture of my dad and me shortly after I was born. In it, he is sitting on my grandparents’ couch, holding me, cradling my head in his hand and leaning over, his face close to mine. I loved looking at that picture and was always intrigued by the man holding me, whom I only knew as Orlando. At some point in my childhood, that picture disappeared. And until 2016, this was the only time I saw or touched my father.
In 2009, when I was twenty, he found me online while I was studying abroad in Rome. After years of failed attempts to contact me through my mom, he decided it was time to reach out to me directly and sent me a brief message through Facebook. He wished me a happy early and very belated birthday and said I would recognize him by his picture. He was right. Even before I read the message, I knew my dad had found me. On the screen was a stranger with my face and eyes and hair, staring back at me like a legend come to life. Until that moment, I never realized it was the first time I saw a face that looked like mine.”