Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Happy GraduBirthday card for my husband

I wrote this poem for my husband two years ago, and, maybe, someday I'll write him a new message for his birthday.  These are still the best words I can summon to say how much I love and respect Brian.  I'd wanted to read the poem at his graduation dinner, but it was a bit too noisy and we were all too happy slathering our brisket with sauce to get teary-eyed -- especially me.  So, here's a delayed "Happy Graduation" message bundled with a "Happy Birthday" post for the man I fell in love with somewhere around my 15th birthday.

Redeemer Seminary - 2015 (missing Rebekah who hadn't yet returned from school)

43 years (now 45)

A poem* for my husband on his birthday

Ninety-two, ninety-three, I most remember   
As the winter a blizzard shut us in and we are   
Broke from a hard two years as newlywed  
Where the meager provision of being   
Student, employee, father for our first born
Son and now another one on the way, we've
Neither a degree nor cash. Dreams die in   
Fatigue and bank accounts give way as you and your    
Muscle and sweat and hope fall in to make   
A loss. We lived in two bedrooms down the   
Hallway from kind friends in their nice  
Neighborhood. Or that has all really   
Happened and we go to Johnson City where,   
Thanks to Rick Jindra and Steve Conroy,   
You get a job cleaning cars at Dependable   
Auto Sales. It’s all a backwards dream, a slog
To get a life and home before the next
Arrival of another son, your dogged days 
Of honor. A church acquaintance  
Has encouraged us that giving when we   
Don't think we have anything to give keeps the   
Scarcity of our mindset overwhelmed by
The bounty. I love the mentors, at least I   
Think I do, in their wisdom, their attempt   
To find ways for us to find a living from the WIC   
Office. Otherwise the early years seem   
Like a country music ballad. A stunned   
Twenty-something man runs from school to work   
And home up three floors of the apartment house on Frederick Street,
Chasing a toddler with the second-born in hot
Pursuit where otherwise you sat up late writing  
Required lines, planning for your next degree  
And child, a daughter. We were waiting to get our   
First salary and listening to the Yankees win the pennant
On the radio. You worked, you dreamed, you wrote the   
Fifty-two pages of your thesis, the new baby  
Arriving near the end. I slept on the couch and  
healed and nursed and cried while you stayed up
Thirty-six hours straight, determined. Then that   
Summer there is the day of the great Teaching Job   
Offer, we move to Conklin -- Richard T. Stank
Middle School. God bless George Schuster  
Down the hall. You read “Goodnight   
Moon” to your children and Teddy Roosevelt
To your students, and Rick Patino for the team.   
Then it’s winter again. My water breaks   
And we head back to Lourde's Hospital   
And we welcome another daughter, and   
Sometime just about then you must have almost   
Seen yourself as others see or saw you,   
people like Dr. Jagger and Scott Gravelding, but could not quite   
Accept either their affirmation
Or their equally anointed naming. Uncertain,   
Afraid, you kept at it. A few years later
Crisis and pain and forgiveness fall in to make   
A calling. You lived into yourself, a man named  
You are still the father, student, teacher, much the same,
but now also mentor, pastor, friend.
Now you are happier, I think, and older.
Those of us lucky enough to know you say
That we have won the Brian Murphy lottery.


 (Missing Alex who was 2 years old and lost out when we drew straws for the number
of tickets we had and Natalie who wasn't born yet.)

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