Saying Goodbye…

Here we are on the last day of April, and this month’s post remains incomplete. I planned to share pictures of our baby goat. However, I either recorded the dates incorrectly in my calendar, or that goat ain’t pregnant! I can always count on humorous chaos from the goats. It was appreciated this weekend.

Once or twice per year, I like to include an earlier, memorable post. After the loss of someone special over the weekend, I knew which post to share! Reflecting over the past few days, I encourage you to take time to connect with loved ones. Have time for a visit? Stop by! Too far to travel? Send a note or call! I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to spend a long weekend with Donna last summer, and while difficult this past weekend, I’m grateful that her son held the phone to her ear, so I could say a few last words. Has someone special been on your mind? Today is the perfect day to get in touch!

RIP, Donna

Seeing America: The Long Weekend Road Trip

Originally published, July 6, 2017

By Maggie Murphy

The summer remains a busy time around here with gardening, the farmers’ market, summer classes at the college, and the upcoming county fair. However, Chad and I recently found time to enjoy a long weekend in Tennessee. The primary reason for the trip was to visit an old friend, Donna. Growing up, the demands of my parents’ work kept them from home for months each year. Donna worked for my parents for over 25 years. She was there to greet me most mornings, often provided rides to Fowler’s farm where I boarded Goldy, was there for many overnights when Mom and Dad were fundraising for the college, and was always a phone call away for any of us kids.

Donna commanded respect. She was one of the few people who would tell Dad if she disapproved of his actions regarding the kids, and he would even seek her advice during our difficult teen years. Donna also never hesitated to put us kids or our friends in our place. When she used my first and middle name, I was in trouble!

We had time for several visits with her and dined at her son’s restaurant in Knoxville. We even arrived in time to watch the prep work for the smoker. Chad particularly enjoyed trading poultry smoking tips with Donna’s son, Randy. On a later visit, there was time for an impromptu concert for Donna and the other residents at the senior living center (Strumsticks are perfect for road trips!).

We stayed in a lovely one bedroom cabin, just a stone’s throw from Marble Springs, the home of Tennessee’s first Governor, John Sevier. We found time to hike the grounds and view the log cabins on the property. Our cabin also had a covered front porch with rocking chairs, perfect for sipping morning coffee, reading, and even playing music.

On our last day, we headed south to the Great Smoky Mountains and hiked Middle Prong trail and drove Rich Mountain seasonal road near Cade’s Cove. The long weekend went so quickly! I look forward to returning someday for more hiking, fishing, swimming, good eats, and perhaps even some white water rafting.

(The Sinks-A swimming hole near Townsend)

Thanks for reading!

(Traveling to Knoxville? Check out Mario’s Pizza and Grill-10943 Kingston Pike)

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The Journey Home

 

It seems like a lifetime has passed since December’s post. Early December brought pneumonia for me, and then after Christmas, life proceeded to worse. Chad suffered a serious fall and the next day, Patrick’s friend was killed in a car accident. Chad’s on the mend, and we are attempting to help our son through his loss. As a parent, the challenges of bridging this horrible passage never occurred.

Most generations remember losing and mourning a friend gone too young. I remember those friends lost in high school and college, the pain, questions, and numbness. As parents we sit by helplessly, attempting to ease the grief. While we can certainly be there for support, nothing helps more than letting our young grieve together. Perhaps this is part of letting go; our children need the chance to be with their peers to truly sort things out. As a woman, I also didn’t expect how certain difficult, manual activities provide closure for our men, my father-in-law building his granddaughter’s coffin twelve year’s ago or my son and his friends actually picking up shovels and burying their friend.

When dealing with death, I often think of J.R.R. Tolkien’s glimpse through Gandalf’s words in “The Lord of the Rings”:

“…The journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path…One that we all must take…The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass…and then you see it…White shores…and beyond. A far green country under a swift sunrise.”

I don’t begin to know or claim what’s to come, but I have often found solace in Tolkien’s words and prefer to follow my parents’ words of wisdom. “We all have a journey ahead, a topic worthy of reflection.” The following song, from the late 70s has often brought me peace. Also, after witnessing the visitation, bagpiper’s procession and funeral (and later, watching my husband’s stubbornness and strength to get back to work), I truly understand what Maureen O’Hara meant when she said, “We Irish are a fighting people.”

RIP  Jeremiah

wrestling Patrick and Jer

 

 

On Death, Dying…and Living

momanddad-1

As many of you know, I lost my mom after a sudden, fast-moving illness. While attempting the return to normalcy, I thought perhaps a recollection (another list) might help start the healing. Here are a few words of wisdom from the past month:

  1. While one of the most difficult jobs I ever had to do, if you have the opportunity to be present with a parent and support his or her journey to the next life, make the effort to accept this bittersweet gift.
  2. Share your final wishes with loved ones, put it in writing or have that important conversation! We were blessed with clear guidelines to follow Mom’s wishes, including medical needs, funeral arrangements, and other final requests.  Sharing your wishes reduces the burden on loved ones, eliminating the second guessing and possible arguments.
  3. I was touched by the random acts of kindness in the hospital: The nurse who stole pillows from spare rooms for me, another nurse who spent extra time on her shift the morning we removed the vent, washing Mom’s hair, putting on fresh clothes, doing all she could to help in the difficult situation, and a friend with massage training, spending almost an hour massaging Mom’s hands, trying to relieve the severe edema.
  4. There were so many acts of kindness afterward: The random stranger who purchased my breakfast in Hillsdale, coffee mugs for all the kids from the woman who ran Mom’s favorite breakfast joint, the many visits, cards, phone calls, hugs…
  5. While I only teach part-time, I was touched by the helpful response and care from co-workers at the college. Working with individuals who treat you like family is a priceless perk!

June Roche was a kind, intelligent, and cheerful woman. She endured many trials throughout her life from growing up in poverty, having to delay her high school graduation for a year so she could help support her family, to enduring a national scandal. However, she also experienced a grand adventure through her hard work and dedication to her family and the college, earning her Bachelor’s Degree in only two years, traveling around the world, hosting world leaders, influencing young minds, and helping promote quality education in America.

Throughout this adventure, Mom also never thought herself above others. If she saw someone in need, she attempted to help. I will always remember the lessons modeled through Mom’s example: respect everyone, help those in need, and remember the power of kindness and grace when solving problems.

Thanks for reading!

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Remembering an Angel

kyomi from Meg

Tonight, I remember my niece, Kyomi, who was only with us for four short months. I remember the day she was born and the first time I saw her. She had those big, rosy cheeks like so many Murphy kids. Her kidney problems developed quickly and family visits were limited, so it was a memorable moment for me to hold her for the first time. She had a full head of curly, soft black hair. I remember sitting there and feeling the softness and watching how the touch calmed her as I rocked her in the hospital.

I will never forget the day we lost her. It was a long day with the whole clan in attendance, taking turns in the hospital room. We knew the time was close as we watched her numbers on the monitor slowly deteriorate, yet she was still actively giving “baby kisses.” Remember those open mouthed, wet bits of love? She had one for every member of the family.

As her condition continued to deteriorate and her body slowed down, the staff brought the “death couch” into the room. I HATE that couch! It always represents such a sad time in my mind. We continued to take turns staying with Kyomi’s parents while they remained with their daughter. The final moments haunt me today. She kept trying to give those baby kisses to her parents while she struggled with her last breaths. As a mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunt, or uncle, our nature is to protect and help those in our charge. To watch a little one go and lack the ability to help is unbearable.

We survived the weeks that followed with many tears, hugs, prayers, drinks, and bonding at Nannie and Papa’s. Before Kyomi’s condition deteriorated, we made plans to have a fund raiser, hoping to pay for a kidney transplant if she made it a year. We decided to hold the gathering and donate the money to charity. While Kyomi’s parents spent those many months in the hospital with their sick daughter, we noticed the challenges facing parents of sick children. In the hard working, Murphy family way, we wanted to address that issue, so Kyomi’s Gift was formed.

Kyomi’s Gift helps other families who are struggling to make ends meet while attempting to spend time with their sick children. We provide gas cards for those many trips to the hospital, we purchase groceries, we help pay bills, and we provide many other types of assistance. We hold two fund raisers per year, a chili cook-off and children’s games at the Hastings’ Summerfest.

Are you struggling to balance work and caring for a sick child? Check out our organization. Perhaps we can help. You can find more information on our Facebook Page (Kyomi’s Gift).

Want to help remember this angel? Please consider making a donation to our organization. Thank you for your support!

Also, if you are moved by this story, please share Kyomi’s journey via Facebook, Twitter, or other outlets!