MURPHY'S LAW Remembering a life lived

By Patrick Murphy

Nov. 10 would have been my father’s 100th birthday.

He died 39 years ago at 61, which means I was 20 when he died, and I have lived most of my life without him.

His birthday also falls one day ahead of Veterans Day.

My father, Lloyd, was a TEC 4 in the U.S. Army, serving during WW II, where he was wounded and earned a Purple Heart.

He didn’t talk much about his time in the service, which is not uncommon for people who served.

I cannot imagine what he saw and had to live with the rest of his life. The scar across his chest probably said all anyone needed to know.

Just imagine, if the bullet that grazed his chest had been the tiniest fraction closer to him, he would have been gone.

He never would have met my mom, they wouldn’t have married, I would not have been born, so I would not have met my wife, and our kids would not have been born. Not to mention the affect it would have had on all the people we have come in contact with over the course of our lives.

My daughter, Claire, would not have been here to marry Trent, and my son, Alek, would not have married Anna. 

What might not have been.

The thing that bothers me about losing my dad so early is we never got to have the talks you have with your parents when you become an adult.

I went from being a kid living at home, to going to college, and two years into college he was gone before I started to figure out my own life. I’m sure there is a lot I would have liked to have asked him.

My dad didn’t have the easiest life. He quit school after the eighth grade to go to work to help support his family because his father was an alcoholic, who drank away any money made.

Obviously, there wasn’t much money, and I remember he told me he often wore shoes that he had outgrown because there was no money for new ones when he needed them.

Getting drafted into the military must have been somewhat a relief to him because it provided more stability than his home life.

He got out of the military and got a job in a bakery, and that was his life.

He and my mom did try and operate a restaurant at one time, but that didn’t last, so Dad headed back to the bakery.

They lived in Minnesota and Iowa, and in Iowa he ended up working for a boss who drank, which meant dad filled in when the boss couldn’t work and gave up at least one vacation during that time so his boss could go to rehab.

At some point, he lost the last two fingers on his right hand (Dad was left-handed) when he got them stuck in a machine that rolled out dough, and a different boss panicked. Instead of shutting off the machine, he ran the fingers back through the machine, and they needed to be amputated.

By the time I came around, Dad was 40, and life had beaten him around. A heart attack forced him off the job, and his alcoholic boss fired him. Yes, in those days you, apparently, could get fired if your health prevented you from working.

We moved from, Carroll, Iowa, to Council Bluffs, Iowa, the summer before I entered fifth grade, and stayed there until before my senior year when Dad finally retired, and my folks bought a house in a small town, Avoca, Iowa, a return to small-town living, which my parents preferred.

We lived there three years before Dad was gone.    

When I was in college he wrote me weekly, and I called home at least once a week.

He taught me to love baseball, which I taught my kids, so in that regards he lives on through us.

If he ever felt cheated or that life didn’t turn out the way he wanted it to, he never let on. I don’t ever remember hearing him complain. If he had any regrets he kept them to himself.

I think he was happy. He served his country, and he loved his family, and being surrounded by his kids and grandkids. I like to think that was enough for him.

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