Contributed by Elsa Hornfischer
December 14, 2014
Years ago, when the Framingham History Center’s Oral History Project began, it was my privilege to volunteer alongside Mary E. Murphy. During the years since and over 100 stories later I had learned many things from this loving teacher, mentor, and friend.
- Mary was all about stories – both in and out of the Oral History Project…
- She listened, closely, to the stories around her.
- She repeated many of them – historical stories, interesting stories, Irish stories, political and educational stories, and stories from her many years of teaching.
- She lived a most beautiful, committed, kind, attentive, and forward-thinking story of her own, and, by example, showed others how to TRY to do the same.
- But one of her most impressive and frequent demonstrations was to relay these stories accurately and visually – exposing her clear and impeccable memory in the “telling!” It was Mary, not I most of the time, who remembered just about everything I ever told her or had been written within the pages of a book I once read!
She was a positive life force – always – and seemingly ageless: a very early example of where the accomplishments of America’s women would end up going since the 1950’s. She mentored dozens and dozens of women by her example – in a nutshell, the movement just flowed out of her and up into the community, it seems, just about everywhere. What could we women do but TRY to follow!
Over this past year, I often heard my grandson Jacob speak fondly about one of his very favorite ITN clients – a wonderful lady he drove around town on errands. (His client could no longer drive herself so often called ITN – a Framingham-based non-profit service for those who no longer drive.) Jacob’s client? Her name was Mary E. Murphy. Within one year of their friendship, however, Jacob left to pursue a job as a taxi driver, hoping for more hours.
My very last memory of Mary, only weeks before she passed, was of her almost running through a full capacity crowd in Old Edgell Library.
“Elsa,” she spoke excitedly, “Jacob is back!”
Mary’s spirit, her smile, her memory, her kindness, and her storytelling has passed down to yet another, much, much younger, generation – to my grandson’s – and undoubtedly to grandchildren of her own…
That’s just exactly how a good life plays out – Mary knew that.
Thank you, Mary E. Murphy for all that you were and all that you stood for!