Posted by The Shamrock on

The Talk I Never Had

I don’t dream about my mother a lot, but occasionally I do and it’s usually a tough morning or day when I wake up and think about the dream.  In the most recent one I was making travel plans for a family vacation (no doubt because I have been making travel plans for a couple of upcoming family trips).  In the dream I was going down the list and making sure everyone had room reservations for wherever we were going in the dream. I realized I didn’t have a reservation for Mom, which made me question why I didn’t include her, which made me remember she’s not with us anymore, which ended up waking me up. While I am no dream expert, this was probably brought on by her birthday on February 11th, and upcoming four-year mark of her passing (March 12th).

In some ways four years has flown by, in other ways it feels like time has stood still and things are moving around me, but I am not.  Probably the only positive to losing Mom is a lot of trivial things that used to matter to me, don’t anymore. I also think I am more empathetic when someone else loses someone.  My cousin Michella was very kind and checked in on us several times in the days, weeks, and months after Mom passed.  It made me realize that I had not done the same for her and my cousin Wendell when they lost their mother (Aunt Evelyn) a few years before.  Since then I have tried to show more compassion to friends and family in their time of loss.  I can certainly do better.

This is not to suggest that when we lost Mom, I had escaped grief. Before losing Mom, I lost some giants in my life which include several uncles, aunts, and my grandparents.  They were all huge losses and I think of each of them often.

We also lost two brothers that were only with us a few short months each and I can barely remember as I was young.  I think their deaths affected me in ways I can’t really relate to anyone.  Maybe it’s a touch of survivor’s guilt, wondering why I am here and they are not.

Despite all those losses, I guess the obvious somehow escaped me that someday I would navigate losing a parent.  While we lost mom at when she was relatively young, I think of friends and family whose parents passed when they were kids.  I was 37 when Mom passed, a grown man. Somehow being a grown-up kind of sneaks up on you, at least it did for me. Perhaps because I don’t have kids I forget that I’m old enough to have kids in their 20’s.  A grown man is supposed to be prepared for these kind of things, right?  Mom was in bad health for several years and perhaps I foolishly at times thought during that last year I was prepared for life without her. I wasn’t.

Rob O’Neil, the Navy SEAL credited with shooting Bin Laden tells in interviews about young kids aspiring to be Navy SEALS telling him they take cold showers so that they will be used to the harsh cold waters of BUDS training.  He tells them to stop because no matter how many cold showers they take, they will never get used to the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean they will face in BUDS. In one interview he said something to the effect of “if I tell you I am going to kick you in the crotch in a month, do you think having someone kick you in the crotch every day leading up to that day is going make you used to being kicked in the crotch?” While it may be a crude analogy, I can relate to it. No matter how prepared I thought I was for losing Mom, it did not soften the blow.

A former co-worker texted me last year not too long after he lost his mother and said, “I don’t know how you did it, I can hardly function at work”.  I related to him about knowing how it feels to know your life is forever changed, but people are moving around at full speed, while you’re doing good just to show up on some days.  If taking a few months on a sparsely populated beach or isolation in a mountain lodge had been an option, I would have taken that over returning to work after my allotted bereavement days.   Most of us don’t have that for an option. My first night alone after Mom’s funeral was a pretty rough one.  I went to a restaurant for dinner and came out just feeling utterly lost.  Not that it would have made the pain go away, but if a bus of hippies had pulled up right then and invited me to join them for an endless road trip across America. I probably would have just climbed on the bus and left being a “stable adult” behind.

A bus did not show up though, and my last name isn’t Rockefeller, Getty, or Hearst. Back to my apartment I went to prepare to return to working for “The Man”.  Maybe the cruelest part of grieving is life really does go on without the ones we lost.

I still have Mom’s number in my contacts. Even thought the finality of finalities has already happened, somehow taking her out of my phone seems unbearable.  I guess I would be freaked out if her contact picture showed up as an incoming call.  I’d pick it up though as scary as it would be.

Maybe it’s different for other people, but I didn’t have the scene from a movie deathbed talk with Mom where I apologized for anything I done towards her, and she gave some words of wisdom to carry for the rest of my life.  Besides some sporadic stupid parent v. child arguments, we had at various times that I should have conceded, we fortunately did not any lingering bitterness or disagreements between us that I am aware of. This is not to suggest I wouldn’t have chosen words better at times, better yet bit my tongue.  I’m not suggesting Mom was perfect or in the right every time, but again those were trivial things that really didn’t warrant an argument then, and especially don’t warrant any hard feelings now that she is gone.

Oh, but I would have loved for that talk just to double check and make sure everything was clear between us.

I don’t know the secret for overcoming grief, because at times I am still overcome by it.  Several years ago, I set out to be more stoic about things, but that façade crumbles quickly when I think of my family.

I go through musical phases where one artist sticks with me a while. The last year or so that has be The Avett Brothers.  A lot of their lyrics just really connect with me at this point in my life.

From a song of theirs called “The Perfect Space” this line always gets me:

I wanna have pride like my mother has 
And not like the kind in the bible that turns you bad

Mom was very proud of her family, and even though I didn’t give her reasons to be proud at times, she was.

Please pardon the Casey Kassem-esque song dedication, but if the phone did ring and Mom’s picture showed up as the incoming call, and I could have that last talk with Mom, I would try to convey this.


Through My Prayers

The Avett Brothers

Hard to believe I won’t see you again
We were just fighting when winter began
The coldness of our words competing with the wind from the north

Still they make me shiver but in a very different way
The pages of the calendar kept turning away
I have some better words now, but it’s too late to say them to you

My dream of all dreams and my hope of all hopes
Is only to tell you and make sure you know
How much I love you and how much I always did

And yes I know you loved me I could see it in your eyes
And it was in your struggle and it was in your mind
And it was in the smile you gave me when I was a kid

Feels like no one understands
And now my only chance
To talk to you is through my prayers
I only wanted to tell ya I care

Every night after and every day since
I find myself crying when the memory hits
Sometimes it knocks me down, sometimes I can just put it away

Down in my mind where I don’t care to go
The pain of a lesson is letting me know
If you have love in your heart let it show while you can

Yes now I understand
But now my only chance
To talk to you is through my prayers
I only wanted to tell ya I care
I only wanted to tell ya I care

Songwriters: Robert William Crawford / Scott Yancey Avett / Timothy Seth Avett

Posted by The Shamrock on

We Are At This Moment

“We are at this moment where we have never been before, and before I finish saying it, we have passed it and will never be there again.” – Rev. Clegg W. Avett (1914-1976)

Posted by The Shamrock on

A PSA about PSA’s

I keep seeing PSA’s about human trafficking, and how I need to be on the lookout to help stop it.  I’m not denying that it happens but am relatively sure I don’t have any contact with human traffickers.  This probably speaks more to my small social circle, but the last people I visited a few weeks ago (cousins Shelly and Jerry) didn’t seem to be trafficking anyone.  If the workers at Walgreens are trafficking or being trafficked, I couldn’t tell.  Obviously, if I saw something obvious, I would notify the respective authorities.  Maybe I am naïve, but I think I would have to be hanging out with lowlife types (which would make me a lowlife type), to consciously know human trafficking was going on.

My point in all this incoherent rambling is to question the effectiveness of PSA’s.   Why isn’t there a PSA about bank robbery? Murder?  “Man, I was going to out and kill some people while robbing a bank today, but I saw this PSA telling me that murder and armed robbery is wrong not to mention immoral.  Instead I decided to do something productive and go help build a Habitat for Humanity house.”

Posted by The Shamrock on

Galveston, Again

I took a drive down to Galveston on Saturday.

Here are some pics and videos:

The Oak Ridge Boys were in Galveston over the weekend
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Leaving Galveston on the Bolivar Ferry
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Sea Gulls on the Ferry
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Posted by The Shamrock on

Season’s Greetings from The Randall Murphy Archives

(My “Christmas” card)

Dear Family and Friends,


While I find handwritten notes more personal, the chances of you being able to read my writing are slim. Years of dependence on typing has denigrated my already poor penmanship. In fact, if you are reading this, it is a Christmas miracle that the USPS was able to decipher my writing on the envelope. I did change the font of this letter to “Freestyle Script” to give it a more handwritten feel. “Times New Roman” is such an impersonal font (Not applicable here). If this is being read by an unintended recipient, I am sorry this envelope was devoid the cash you were hoping were inside.  To my family and friends, I am also sorry this did not have the cash you were hoping for inside. I’ll pay you back when my income tax return comes in.  In place of cash, I am hoping the enclosed card will be the gift that keeps on giving for future generations, or not take up too much room in your trash can.  As the card indicates, this past September I was fortunate to visit Yellowstone National Park. The picture of Artists Point at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone was taken right before a rainstorm came through on September 13th about 6 in the evening. While I was trying to avoid being struck by lightning, being rained on at Yellowstone, was an awesome experience I won’t soon forget!

On the same trip, I also visited Grand Teton National Park, Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore, and Denver, CO.  If this letter hasn’t put you to sleep already and you would like to read more ramblings and see more pictures along with some videos, just visit:

For a limited time, I am offering this for the low price of…. nothing.  You get the friends and family discount. Truth be told the whole internet gets the same rate, but I didn’t send the rest of the internet a personal invitation.

Besides going on vacation, I really don’t have much to report on about myself. I still work for the man for the time being, at least this was the case at the time of this letter.  If you see a hobo panhandling for change that looks a lot like me. You’ll know things must have taken a turn for the worse.

If I don’t have a chance to tell you in person, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! I’m thankful for all of you!

All my best,

Randall Lee Murphy