In Memoriam of Jack Murphy
As I write this, I have just sent my partner off to the airport to catch a last minute, transatlantic flight to lay to rest the uncle who, by his own words, was like a father to him. Since I couldn’t be there, it feels only right to put a few words down to pay respects to a man whom I only met a few times, but who — as happens often with family — I cared for because of the passing reflections I could see of him in my partner, and of my partner in him.
Jack was 89, and lived independently up until a few months ago when he had a fall and was heart-achingly not found until two days later. We could never get a clear picture of the origin of the infection that cause his delirium and subsequent fall; but by the time he was found, his body was in sepsis and his organs in the process of shutting down.
The first time I was to meet Jack, I was warned not to take it personally if he acted contrary with me. An Irish Catholic, living in a homogenous society, I wasn’t really sure how he was going to react to being introduced to his nephew’s post-divorce, Asian-American girlfriend.
After driving the roughly one and half hours down to Wexford from Dublin, we picked up Jack to go to lunch at his local pub, The Bailey, where Jack proceeded to order a burger and a Budweiser. At the time, I couldn’t tell if he was trying to impress or taking the mickey out of the American. Judging from the number of times I subsequently observed him eat this meal, I’m pretty sure now that it was simply what he was in the mood for, but it was a funny first meeting.
In the three separate trips we’ve made to see Jack since then, he was never once contrary with me (he may even have flirted with me once or twice), even the very last time, after the fall, when we went to see him in hospital and he was clearly not feeling his best. I know the reason why stemmed from his love for David, a plain and straightforward love that quickly deduced the simple equation: “David loves this girl, and this girl cherishes David, and therefore I am glad.”
I struggle to put into context whether this is common or not, but I know that it’s special and extremely precious, when love and family can be so simply yet powerfully constructed. You don’t depart from it easily, in fact you grab on to it, and you write it down and tell others, so that it can be replicated and live on, even where the body does not.
So many people love you, Jack. May God bless your soul, and may we all see you again in heaven.