I decided that I was strong enough to watch the slide show memoriam that I put together last year for the Murphy family reunion. Sure enough, I was driven to tears before the third slide.
My uncle was the patriarch of not only his nuclear family, but his extended family (my family) as well. He was every bit the father in my life that I and my siblings and cousins needed. He taught us respect, honesty, integrity, autonomy, community, and most of all, recognition of and gratitude for the Lord our God. He was the epitomy of empathy, compassion, and no-nonsense. He was also the family funnyman. We often referred to him as the "white" Bill Cosby. Just watch the Cosby show sometime; my uncle and Cosby not only shared the same birthday, but they shared the same humor, mannerisms (right down to the devlish smirk, the laugh, and the jokes), and concern for those around them.
Mike Murphy was a hero in every sense of the word. He always went out of his way to serve those around him; even perfect strangers. His ability to unconditionally love anyone and everyone enabled him to endure the toughest of situations (and of those he had plenty) with determination and a smile. It was exceedingly rare to ever hear a complaint escape from his lips. He was an advocate of moral agency and choice; and repeatedly taught me how everything I felt; every reaction; every action; every thought, every word spoken, every deed done was a choice. He choose to be happy; and happy he was. Life never brought him down; in fact, he just brought life back up with him.
I'd like to end by sharing the words of my sister, written in her blog a year ago, and the tribute that I mentioned earlier.
I want you to know Uncle Mike that you are and always will be my hero. I've looked up to you my entire life and deservedly so you've been on one of my highest pedastels. If I had never been blessed with you as my uncle I would not be the person I am today. You gave me something to strive for and to look for in a husband and father of my children. You've taught me how I want to be with my future nieces and nephews, what kind of person it is that deserves the respect you continue to command of the people who knew you even though you have left us. I hate those words. Were, left, without. They are terrible words. Even though I know better, that it's only physical, it still hurts so very much to know I will never be able to hug you again, that when I want to say, "I love you" to you that it will have to be "inside." I only wish we were given more time. How robbed I feel. I needed you still. I know I will get on with my life, but I needed you still when you went "home." I know you're up there smiling and laughing and happy to be with your mom, dad, and brother. I can't wait to see you again, it will be one of the happiest times it will. I love you so very much unkie. I will miss you terribly so and will think of you every day that passes. Thank you for being a wonderful uncle, father and grandpa to me, you have affected the world more than you'll ever know. I don't want to say goodbye and I won't, I have to just say see you later.
I love you too, Uncle Mike. And I'll be seeing you again one day. You are my hero and the best man I have ever had the pleasure to know. I literally thank God every day for the blessing of having you play such a giant part of my life. You are the reason I am a different person today; one who chooses to be happy.