[M.M.X.I.V. 39] Mighty Murf

This is from today’s Daily Prompt: 

Who are your neighbors? Are you friends with them, barely say hi, or avoid them altogether? Tell us a story — real or invented — about the people on the other side of your wall (or street, or farm, or… you get the point)

I don’t know my neighbors in my current apartment building that well.  However, I wanted to tell a story of neighbors from where I used to live.

Between 1992 and 1996, we lived at 1240 <street redacted> in Fort Dodge, Iowa.  My parents often let us play outside, and wander about the neighborhood.  There were a few other families with people around my age at the time, but the house that my siblings and I always enjoyed going to was almost like a trip to Lincoln or Omaha.

Indeed, an older couple, Tom and Mary Murphy, lived five houses down the way.  The first time that we met them, I don’t remember any of the details, but Mom and Dad later said that they were a little bit hesitant.  This went away after a while, because they were the nicest people, inviting us to their house for spending time together, rock-picking in the back yard, the gumball machine in the basement, and the arcade machines downstairs as well.

A good bond formed between us and them, and there were always nice family exchanges.  I still remember the doorbell and the grandfather clock in the house’s entrance, the uncluttered basement, the living room with flowing plants, and their inimitable smiles.  Tom’s nickname was “Mighty Murf,” and really reminded me of Papa (my mom’s father).  In some sense, it is almost as if they were expies of Gramma Lea and Papa.  I think my family may have even been invited to a family function of theirs, but I can’t quite recall at this point.

After we moved away from Fort Dodge, we still visited on occasion, to see some of our old family friends.  They were always on our short list.  Years later, a picture of me from the Fort Dodge Messenger that was taken for my ninth birthday still hung on the refrigerator at their house, and the gumball tradition continued when we visited. 🙂

In my ninth grade year, we were in Fort Dodge en route back home from Jason’s bar mitzvah in Milwaukee.  We stopped at the Murphy household for a little while, and got a few hands of bridge in… and in some sense, it would have been fun if she had taught me how to play when I was even younger!  (I learnt bridge after my eighth grade year–but that’s another story for another post).

But, in June of 2003, Tom passed away (just a few days after Grampy).  Our next visit to Fort Dodge was in January 2004, for one of Casey’s last gymnastics meets in Ames.  (This would make another good blog post later!)  Clearly, going to see Mary was a high priority on that trip.  The talk was more subdued, but I feel that our presence was a comforting factor.  My picture was still on the refrigerator, as the 7.5-year (WOW) period started to make it yellow.

Fast forward all the way to August 2009, when we were in town for a post-wedding celebration of a family-friend in Fort Dodge.  We stopped by to see Mary, and she was still doing well.  Conversations were the usual catch-up chats, and talking about how I was about to go to Northwestern University the next month to begin my grad school career.  It was really nice to catch up, and indeed, going to the kitchen, although the picture had yellowed more, it was still fully recognizable.  And the amazing thing: the picture of me as a nine-year-old still looked like me as a then-twenty-two-year-old.

You can’t always choose your family, but you can definitely choose your family-friends.  And the Murphys have been a good influence in our lives.

===========================

Today is the thirty-ninth day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes five weeks and four days.

This is the list of other posts addressing this prompt as of 09:15 Central Standard Time (GMT -6):

  1. Lonely Park | muffinscout
  2. Axe-wielding landlady: a true story! Daily Prompt | alienorajt
  3. JFK Ultra Walk | Exploratorius
  4. Mr Fall | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  5. Paradox | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  6. A bird and the boat | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  7. Daily Prompt: Good Fences? | DCMontreal: Blowing the Whistle on Society
  8. Neighbours | Sue’s Trifles
  9. Yeah, I’m in the habit of phoning weirdo’s and hanging out. | thoughtsofrkh
  10. Next Door | Melibelle in Tokyo
  11. Revenge of the Duck | The Jittery Goat
  12. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening | Ps and Qs: Photography, Poetry and Quiet
  13. Unseen and Unknown | Finale to an Entrance
  14. adversity | yi-ching lin photography
  15. DP Daily Prompt: Good fences? | Sabethville
  16. Two Hours | Lifeinpawprints’s Weblog
  17. Daily Prompt: Good Fences? « Mama Bear Musings
  18. Fences, Boundaries, and Relationships Prayers and Promises
  19. Mal Vecino! | growinolder
  20. Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie & Neighbors | LenzExperiments
  21. There’s a space-ship in my neighbor’s garage | A mom’s blog
  22. Neighbourhood. | The Word Trance
  23. Good Neighbors, Bad Neighbors « One Crazy Mom
  24. second home first | peacefulblessedstar
  25. Neighbors in a bus! | Notes to self…
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