Sunday, June 30, 2013

17 Months Old!

Graham is quickly creeping up on being a year and a half and we're enjoying the crazy ride with the little man. He's as busy as ever and his vocabulary is starting to erupt, as well as his abilities to repeat many sounds. (Speech therapy is benefiting them both!) He loves swimming and splashing at both the pool and the lake, so we're off to a busy, but fun summer.

Favorite foods: avocado, sausage, mac n cheese, raspberries, black beans

Favorite book: "From Head to Toe" by Eric Carle and "The Very Hungry Caterpillar"

Favorite songs: (according to Sam) The Beastie Boys  (according to me) Row, Row Your Boat

Words: Mom, Dad, ball, dog, done, roar (lion), moo (cow), pop, mo-w (more), dat (that), mine, row row

Teeth: 6 on top, 6 on bottom

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Missing My Dad

Although it always makes me sad, sometimes I like to read the eulogy that my Uncle Mike gave about my dad at his funeral because I feel like it so beautifully captured his life and spirit.  Missing you lots today and always Dad.

Eulogy for G.E. Murray

The Murrays have a lot of history with this church.  Thirty seven years ago Joanne and Jerry were married here.  Seven years ago Cate and Dave were married here.  Two weeks ago Megan and Sam were married here.  And now we are all gathered again.  This time to say goodbye to one of the finest men most of us have ever known.

It is hard to find words to say about a man like Jerry Murray.  It’s hard to find enough adjectives to describe him.  He was so many things to so many people.

Have you ever seen a guy who could do so many things—and do them so well?  He was, first and foremost, a loving husband and a devoted father.  Joanne, Caitlin, Mike and Megan—you guys meant the world to Jerry and he showed it in everything he did.  Tim – you were constantly in your brother’s thoughts and he was always talking about you.  I know it’s been a rough three months for you losing first your mother and now your brother.  But, Tim, what a wonderful brother you had.

There were many things that made Jerry Jerry.  One of them was the he was such a night owl.  The guy just wouldn’t go to bed. Some of the latest nights I ever spend were spent in the company of Jerry Murray.  Cate, Mike, and Meg, each of you recalls coming home late at night to find Jerry in his office, writing away.  Invariably he would put aside whatever he was doing and spend and hour (or two or three) chatting away about everything and nothing.

It would be hard to overstate the breadth of Jerry’s accomplishments.  In many ways he was your typical suburban dad: shooting baskets on the driveway, going to his kids’ basketball and football games.  But, as Caitlin said to me, when she turned twelve or so she realized that her dad, in many ways, was NOT a typical dad.  Most Dads don’t have book release parties.  Most dads don’t take their families to literary conferences in Ireland where they are featured speakers.  Most kids don’t jump in the car, turn on the radio and hear their Dad on NPR.

Was there anything the man couldn’t do? Besides being a wonderful husband and father, he was a writer, a PR man, a poet, a painter, a sailor, and an athlete. He was a big man, and a bruising presence on the football field.  How would you like to be running downfield and have that freight train of a guy run into you?

Jerry was a true Renaissance man.  He was extremely well-read.  When you would go into the Murray house there were books everywhere.  Books in his study, books in the hallway, books in the bathroom, books in his bedroom, heck, books in everyone’s bedroom! When he and Joanne moved from their place on Jackson, it took six of us almost a full day just to pack and move Jerry’s books, so many of them inscribed for him by other authors who so admired Jerry’s own work.

I suppose the thing the world will remember most about Jerry Murray was his command of language.  He was a natural born writer.  He always knew what to say.  I want to read to you from a letter Jerry wrote to Patti and me 30 years ago, a few days after he and Joanne had been the godparents at our daughter Eileen’s baptism…

                                                                                                February 15, 1978
Dear Patti and Mike,

We wanted to let you know what a deeply-felt honor it was (and is) to serve as Eileen Deirdre’s godparents. 
In the minds of all concerned, be assured that our attendant responsibilities are taken seriously, and that so long as we are breathing you little sweetheart will always have our total support, in the best of circumstances or otherwise.
She’s such a sweet, precious child. I really think all the Collinses and Burnses (and Murrays) are in a state of euphoria over her and her fortunate parents.
So this is simply to say we are yours and Eileen Deirdre’s now and always.
And again, our thanks for the very special honor.

Jerry and Joanne

Remember, Jerry didn’t have to write us, and yet what a beautiful letter he wrote, touching on all the things that matter most in life.  His heart was always in the right place and he had the rare ability to translate the feelings of his heart into words.  As one of his reviewers once said, “Murray is in love with the adventure of words.” And he was.  He wrote eight volumes of poetry.  He was published in over a hundred literary magazines. His work was included in more than a dozen anthologies.

And he wrote in so many different genres.  He wrote poems.  He wrote columns.  He wrote books.  He wrote reviews.  Heck, he even wrote songs.  How good was he?  He won a Devins award for REPAIRS in 1979 and was nominated for a Pulitzer price for WALKING THE BLIND DOG in 1992.  “A light shines through his work” one of his reviewers once said.  You know what?  I think a light shone through Jerry Murray’s life.

And yet Jerry never got caught up in the hoopla of his accomplishments.  He was never overly impressed with himself.  He remained true to his roots, true to his wife and family, true to his religion.  As they say, you can take the boy out of Buffalo but you can’t take Buffalo out of the boy.  He loved his birthplace.  He just wrote a book about Buffalo that will be out later this summer.  A couple weeks before he died, he told me how proud he was that a kid from Buffalo, Patrick Kane, had just won rookie of the year in the NHL.

I am sure most of you remember three years ago when Jerry first became ill, how he hovered on death’s doorstep for several weeks.  The Murray family took up temporary residence in the waiting room of the ICU down at Rush.  There was always someone there: Joanne and the kids, Patti and George, Karen Trumbull, Maureen Furey and MaryAnn Shaunnessey.  Tim Murray and Terry Burns flew in from out of town and with their laughter and love and wacky remarks made not just Jerry but everyone else feel better.

Jerry was unconscious much of that time.  When he finally woke he had no idea how serious his condition had been.  It fell to Joanne to tell him he had almost died.  Jerry was amazed.  He had no idea how close to death he had come.

“In fact,” Joanne told him, “we even talked about who would do your eulogy.”
“Oh, yeah?” Jerry responded.  “Who did you pick?
Joanne told him they had picked Mike Collins.

A few days later I was visiting Jerry in his hospital room when he casually mentioned that he heard I was going to do his eulogy.  I told Jerry I was proud to have been asked but glad it turned out not to be necessary.
“Me too.” Jerry said.  And then, after a minute he added, “You were going to say nice things, weren’t you?”
 What else can you say about Jerry Murray except nice things?

You know one of the things I always found amazing about Jerry?  He was a mountain of contradictions.  He was a football player – who wrote poetry.  He was a big old bear of a guy – who never was too big to say “I love you.”  He said it all the time.  He loved his family and friends—and he never tired of telling us, especially in the heel of the night.  How many of us can recall Jerry wrapping those big arms around us, sometimes even giving us a kiss and saying “I love you.”  Jerry Murray told me he loved me more times than my own father did.  As I told Patti last night, I have only been kissed by one man in my life—Jerry Murray—and he did it a thousand times!  But that’s Jerry.  He loved everyone.  And everyone loved him.

Jerry has such a broad range of friends.  No matter where I would go in the city I would run into people who knew and loved Jerry Murray.  I can’t tell you how many times over the last three years I have been somewhere and the first thing out of someone’s mouth was, “How’s Jerry?”

Jerry was a man who could write the following words of poetry to his daughter Caitlin when she was born…

                        Kate, beware and rejoice
                        In the same breath,
                        But don’t hold it too long.
                        Wear is like a raincoat,
                        My love, then shed us
                        In a flush of sunlight.

And yet, the same sensitive soul who wrote those lines was also the guy who, coming home from work one day, on the el, witnessing a robbery, stood up and cold cocked the robber.

Joanne and Jerry had a wonderful marriage. They had their share of good times, but toward the end, as Jerry’s health deteriorated, Joanne was always there for him.  I don’t think any of us will ever know the full extent of Joanne’s devotion to Jerry, and never once did she complain.  The example of devotion Joanne showed Jerry was just simply inspiring.  They had thirty four wonderful years together and then these last three tough ones, but in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, Joanne was always there.

I’m a doctor.  I’ve seen a lot of sick people.  I’ve seen a lot of courageous battles.  But in my thirty years of medical practice I have never seen ANYTHING like what Jerry Murray did.  You wonder how he did it.  How he went on for over three years when just about every organ system in his body failed: his kidneys, his liver, his pancreas, his intestines, his heart, his circulation, his neurological system.  He lost a hundred pounds.  He had a leg cut off, toes cut off, part of his bowl cut off.

Everything crashed except the one thing that matters most: his spirit.  God, what a fight he waged.  Maybe he got his fighting spirit from his dad who went to Alabama on a boxing scholarship, I don’t know, but what I do know is that so much of his strength came from those he loved—especially his wife and children.  Joanne, Cate, Mike, and Megan that is something you can hold on to forever.  When everything was going wrong, when every organ system was failing, it was your love that sustained and nourished him.

Jerry was thrilled with his sons and daughter in law.  It was such a great comfort to him to see his children he loved so much settle down with such wonderful spouses.  Dave, Meghan, and Sam, he loved you guys.

I know Jerry would want me to thank the doctors and nurses at Rush who cared for him.  It is a testament to their kindness and devotion that many of them were at the wake last night.  I know he would especially want me to thank Fresia for all her care and devotion.  He loved you.  He would want me to thank his friends for all the support and kindness you showed in so many ways—even going as far as building a ramp so he could get in and out of the house easier.  He loved you.

Patti and I have every book Jerry ever wrote.  Most of them he inscribed for us.  My favorite is the inscription he wrote to us 28 years ago when “Repairs” was published.  It sums up everything that was Jerry Murray.  “To Mike and Patti,” he wrote, “with faith and love, Jerry.”  With faith and love.  That was Jerry Murray.

I thought a lot over the past few days about what I should say this morning, about who should be thanked, who acknowledged, and finally I thought about what Jerry would want me to say.  It’s almost time for all of us in this church to rise and take that last walk with Jerry.  Before we follow this wonderful man out of church I think he would want me to say one last thing to you.  This man who loved life, loved his wife and kids, loved his family and friends, would want me to say to all of you, one last time, “I love you.”

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Girl Sleepover!

Aunt Meg hosted Liv for her first ever girl cousin sleepover!  Ice cream, manicures and movies! 

We Need a Yard

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

We are the luckiest to have you in our lives and appreciate all that you do for us. Your love and enthusiasm for life are contagious.  We love you!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Daddy Duty

Sam and the kids had a great weekend together. He even juggled having showings for the condo both days. Good job Daddy!

But both the babies and mama (and a tired daddy) were happy to be reunited today.

Mama's Weekend Away!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

Ballet Show

Liv's class put on a little show for the parents today. She did a great job.
And then Graham couldn't resist joining in.

Girls on the Run 5k

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