This I Believe

April - Fredonia, New York
Entered on August 30, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, legacy

Being a Murphy

One night my little brother returned home from a poker game with his friends and was visibly upset. “What’s wrong?” My sister and I asked. He told us that his friends had been making fun of his heritage over their poker game. My sister and I did our best to console him, assuring him that other people didn’t take their families as seriously and proudly as we did. We spoke about our relatives and our family’s heritage, but most importantly we talked about what our name meant. As we explained to each other why we felt the way we did about our family, I realized that this is what I believe.

Everybody has a last name. My last name is Murphy. It’s a common last name, the most common in Ireland. It is an old name, descended from a Gaelic word meaning “Sea Warrior”.

This would seem incongruous with my upbringing in upstate New York – far away from any sea – and not fitting the descendent of a Boston firefighter. However, I can’t think of any other name that would do me and my family justice. My family, the Murphys, are a proud family. We are proud of each other and we are proud of where we come from. We are proud of our heritage in our homeland and when times got hard, proud of the courage we had to cross the ocean and seek a better life for those we loved.

I didn’t always understand what being a Murphy meant. At age five, as I nervously approached my new bicycle and my father told me I shouldn’t be afraid because I was a Murphy or when I was in high school and my aunts and uncles told me they believed in my power to succeed because I was a Murphy – I thought it meant I was granted with some special power. It seemed the equivalent of being born into a royal line.

However, as I grew up, I realized that being a Murphy does not mean that I am an heir to a magical power. I am a part of a family. My family has always instilled in me a sense of pride and belonging. Whenever I feel alone, there are other Murphys to be there for me. When I am afraid, I can draw on the strength of all the Murphys who have come before me. If I am unsure of what to do in a situation, I can think of what the other Murphys would say to guide me. I am proud of my family and want them to be proud of me. Being a Murphy is about being there for each other and being the best you can be.

Everybody has family that wants them to succeed and help them along the way. I’m just very lucky that I can sum up what being a member of my family means. It means being a Murphy, and when my children need guidance or support, I’ll know just what to say.