Twenty five years ago, pregnant with twins at the age of 34, I was on physician ordered bedrest for the last two months of my pregnancy. That left me with long days and seemingly endless hours. I needed entertainment and distraction but our home nestled in the woods didn't have good television reception.
One day, my brother-in-law Randy showed up with several bags of books. There was a huge variety and some were Reader's Digest Condensed Books with more than one novel in each volume. As an avid reader with no way to visit the library and having read everything I had on hand until I'd almost memorized each word, his gift meant a great deal to me.
Those books provided me with something to do - and since I love to read, it was the perfect gift.
I hadn't asked for books or even mentioned it but Randy saw my need and he filled it, in a quiet way.
He was that kind of person, one who saw more than he said.
Last week, he died unexpectedly and my already scarred heart broke a little more.
His obituary appears in today's edition. It's a written record of his life but an obituary is a basic biography, simple facts that don't capture the essence of a life lived.
In these days following his death, I'm struck by many memories.
When I wanted to experience firing a black powder weapon as research for some of my fiction, it was Randy who gave me the opportunity.
I still grill burgers using the method I borrowed from him because his hamburgers were the best, never charred or dry, just delicious.
I have a much worn favorite blouse. I've worn it so much over the years that it shows the wear and has become a casual, at home comfortable garment. It was one of several items that came from a day when Randy bought out an entire rummage sale. There was something he wanted, which I can't recall what it was, but he ended up buying all the remaining goods for a low price. Randy offered me my pick of what ladies' clothing was among the haul. That blouse was one of them.
On the day that I was called away from work to Seneca House, where my husband spent the last few months of his life, because Roy's condition had taken a major downturn, Randy walked through the door of the room. I thought he'd heard the news but he hadn't - he just came where he felt he needed to be and I greeted him with a hug.
These are a few moments out of many. I don't have space or the words right now to talk about his music, the way he'd snitch fried potatoes straight from the skillet while I cooked them, or the way he wanted to hold both twin nieces, one in each arm, the first time he saw them after they were born.
Randy Murphy will be missed but never forgotten. Those moments of memory just became infinitely more precious.
Maybe if heaven is the way I like to believe it is, Randy and his oldest brother, my husband Roy are playing music together again or maybe they've just gone fishing. Either way, they're reunited and I will keep both in my heart always.
-Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is the editor of The Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser. She is also an author and freelance writer.