MURPHY'S LAW Remembering loved ones with memories and stories

By Patrick Murphy

Mom and Dad would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary July 14.

They have been gone so many years, and it always seems so surreal to me to think I have lived so long without both parents.

In fact, I have lived longer without my father than with him. Dad died when I was 20, and Mom when I was 35. I’m 59.

Dad never knew my wife, Kelly, or his grandkids, Claire and Alek.

Claire only has vague memories of her grandma Murphy, and Alek has none.

I hope those who have their parents and grandparents in their lives understand how fortunate they are.

My wife’s family is pretty amazing.

I remember before I joined the family she took me to a family gathering. She stopped to talk to a cousin and told me I could go on inside.

I walked into wall-to-wall strangers. I knew her folks and sisters, but not very well. Her mom was great and welcomed me, but me, being even more awkward and quiet than I am today, felt quite out of place.

I soon learned that joining my new family meant family gatherings that included grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and any significant other.

That was new to me. My family was not like that. My maternal grandparents did not live close to us, and I was still pretty young when they died.

My grandmother Murphy also died when I was young and my grandfather Murphy was long gone by the time I came along.

My parents did not really live close to their siblings and kept in touch through phone calls and letters — yes, people used to write letters.

We occasionally visited my mom’s sister and saw her kids, which were my cousins.

They were older than me, so I didn’t really connect with them.

The only times my family’s extended family got together were special occasions like weddings or anniversaries. There wasn’t Christmases or Easters together, and we never got together just to get together.

My family had seven kids at one point, and three have died. Two live in Arizona, and we rarely see each other. Another sister is in Lincoln, and we got together recently, but not too often.

At some point we will fade away, making room for other generations.

We visited my parents grave site in Avoca, Iowa, where I lived full time one year before heading to college. My dad retired, and they wanted to spend the rest of their lives in a small town because that is how they grew up.

I doubt anyone remembers them. Dad lived there a couple years before dying, and Mom lived there about 16 years, but her social circle was people of her age, so they, too, are gone.

The only way to know they lived there is the marker in the cemetery.

However, they live in my memories, and the stories I tell my family about them.

Patrick Murphy, editor-publisher of the Humphrey Democrat and Newman Grove Reporter in Nebraska, is a former assistant managing editor at The Telegram.