Being Father’s Day, it’s a natural assumption that I would honor my dad, Russel Murphy, known to many as Poppy. I’ve written about Dad before, mentioned him in passing, and have not run out of material yet. But today, ol’ Pop will step aside.
This morning Honey gave the communion meditation and mentioned his dad, Herb Brock. He brought up something I hadn’t exactly forgotten, I had simply not thought about it for a long time.
If you want to know what Herb looked like, imagining Humphrey Bogart old, and for many years, with a pipe or a cigarette. He eventually quit both, but reluctantly. Herb didn’t raise his voice even when my deaf-as-a-post dad was in the room. Neither did he move his lips much. But when he started in with memories, AND Edna was in the mood to let him go on, we got to hear all about Denver, Rowdy the dog, the cabin in the mountains, the Depression, the furniture store on Broadway in Minneapolis, the defense plant he and his brother ran during the war, the big one.
When we were first married and had two little ones, we wanted to build a garage. This wasn’t feasible on a single income, so Herb loaned us the money. We had not only a garage built, but a concrete driveway and the sidewalks. Once a month we would write a check and Herb would write out a receipt. Several months went by and Herb and Edna went on their annual winter break after Christmas to Arizona to escape at least a portion of the harsh Minnesota winter. They asked us to shovel their walk and driveway, keep the plants alive (who? me?) make sure the pipes didn’t freeze, that the furnace was running ok, etc. When they came back, Stan took the accumulated checks over and Herb wrote out the receipt and marked it Paid in Full. “But Dad, I owe you more money.” I know, but it’s ok, son. The debt’s forgiven.
Is that not what our father in heaven did when He sent His Son to bail us out and pardon our sins? Paid in full.
I sort of wish I’d been a fly on the wall when this was discussed in Arizona. Edna had a great deal of influence, so I will give her credit for her participation. But Herb still had the last word. He was the decision maker and would not have done it had he not agreed.
Let me tell you two other things, among many, that my father-in-law did for us. I went to Minneapolis the January before our wedding in May with Berniece and Linda to hunt for a wedding dress. I didn’t have the money, so my plan was to lay one away. I found one at Penney’s for $125, 8 ft. veil included. I laid $10 down and planned on paying it off so I could actually wear it on my wedding in 4 months. On $3 an hour, that plus rent wasn’t happening. Herb paid the bill.
The other favor I didn’t know about until 4 years ago. Not only could I not manage to get my wedding dress out of hock, I wouldn’t have had an engagement or wedding ring to wear had it not been for Herb and Edna.
They’re both gone now. I can’t thank him personally. I can’t pay him back or even return the favor. We were on hand throughout their elderly years, we did run errands, we looked after their plants, etc, helped with the cabin, and so on.
But had I known ……….
Everyone should pay their debts. We should return favors. But now, our only option is to pay it forward.