Seattle adventures, life, home, and coffee—in no particular order
I find it pretty incredible that my mom had to share her parents with 10 other siblings, 9 of whom came before her.
And more incredible still that my grandma gave birth to 11 children.
Today, Grandpa John—the patriarch of the now even-more-massive Murphy clan—turns 90.
I find it even more incredible that my grandpa has managed to maintain a seemingly-unwavering sense of optimism, humor, and love for nine decades.
After partying with friends into the wee hours of the morning at the Clemacharon Casa, Adam, Sean, Jasper, and I headed out to my uncle’s cabin on Treasure Island.
My uncle James (11 of 11) and his beautiful wife Carole have the entire Murphy family out to their tiki-themed cabin every Fourth of July. It’s a weekend of food, vodka lemonades, beach-lounging, fireworks, the annual island parade, and lots and lots of family.
We celebrate my grandpa’s birthday every year, but this year was a much more important milestone. And not only was it his 90th, it was also the year of the decade birthdays—sweet baby Jonah just came into this world, Jackie and Paul turned 10, John and Clay turned 30, Colleen and Bill hit 40, my mama turned the big five-oh, Maureen turned 60, Nicole 70, and Jack 80 (and I may have missed one or two in that list!).
The party started with an amazing cake from cousin Kate and her mom Maureen. Our grandpa is a life-long Boston Red Sock’s fan and claims that he was born during the 7th inning stretch in Fenway Park. (A fact that most of us cousins believed for longer than we’d care to admit.) Kate created a rounded baseball cake, complete with red stitching, the Boston ‘B’ on one side, and a Boston-B-esque ‘90’ on the other.
The cake-cutting was followed by a Roger Miller sing-along and some enthusiastic dessert eating.
Next, we headed down to the fire pit for the best part of the evening—memory sharing.
Sharon made everyone laugh as she passed out the decade cards. Patricia read a lyrical poem that Kathleen (who lives in Germany) had written for the occasion. Then Illeana ceremoniously began the memory-fest by introducing a notebook that each of us had written in over the course of the weekend. She’d asked us to share a memory or an image or a lesson that John was responsible for. And that night she asked each of us to read to the rest of the group what we’d written.
There were stories of summer camping trips (driving cross-country with 9+ kids, can you imagine?!), the evolving dinner-table hierarchy (which changed as each of the 11 moved out), the family radio that provided a constant backdrop of music, the die-hard baseball enthusiast, and the story that I never get sick of—my grandparent’s love story.
Each memory, though different, told the same story. They told the story of a man who loves his children, adores his wife of 66 years, never tires of a good baseball game, loves music, and always makes each of his many grandchildren feel that they are special. A man of love, laughter, and endless optimism. A man with a life well-lived…and more life yet to live well.
And because Grandpa John passed on the crying gene to most of us, every memory reading was accompanied by the shedding of happy, sentimental tears.
As we made our way through the notebook—around the fire pit on the water’s edge—the evening’s fireworks slowly amped up. The last memory was greeted by hearty applause, a round of hugs, and a colorful fireworks display.
It was a pretty incredible night.
So happy 90th Grandpa John. As I said last night, thanks for creating this amazing family that’s so full of love. Thanks for welcoming Adam into this big, crazy clan. Thanks for showing us that it’s possible to love someone with all your heart for over 60 years. And thanks for sharing your young heart, optimism, and humor will all of us. You sir, are well-loved.