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The Last Good Deed of Ed Murphy

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This is the story of Ed Murphy. You’re going to think I’m making him up. I’m not. He was a real person and he was my friend. Eleven years ago, when my first divorce was new, he came over one Sunday afternoon to change my locks. He hadn’t seen me in years, but he heard I was getting divorced, and he always thought that guy was an asshole, and women like me in a situation like that need their locks changed. He’ll be over at noon. With his dog.

I don’t talk about Ed much. I’ve tried writing about him, but never got very far. For the longest time I couldn’t go into Home Depots without crying by the demolition saw display. I’ll get the sad ending out of the way — I’m shit at suspense — Ed killed himself on October 29, 2003. Shot himself in the head, in a hotel parking lot. He planned it all out, wrote everyone a note, except me. I got a long hug and he told me I was a “wonderful person.” I’d packed him a sandwich that day as he headed off to his suicide and said “Ed, stop being dramatic. You’re just going to Albany. I’ll see you on Tuesday.”

I’m writing about Ed today because I’m tired of idiots commenting that good men don’t exist. Well, I’m married to one, and I was friends with another, and I’ve known scores more. But Ed was the best person I ever knew. He did a lot of good things for a lot of people, but I was his last good deed.

Like I said, I was divorcing and living alone with my preschooler son in a house I bought off my ex in a terrible state of disrepair. Ed and I used to be literacy volunteers together at Academy of Hope in Washington, D.C. That’s how we met — over algebra, in 1990. He hadn’t seen me in ages, but he showed up with his toolkit that Sunday and drilled out my deadbolts, while dispensing with advice. “You’re fucked up. Don’t date again for at least a year. You need therapy.”

Gee, thanks Ed. Then he told me with utter certainty that I would marry again, because I was in my 30s and still young. I said that wasn’t happening. “Don’t be so sure,” he scoffed.

Not that Ed had any luck at love himself. That day he told me that he’d been divorced twice. The last one, he said, nearly destroyed him. She was cheating on him with her boss AND their auto mechanic.

“Lost the best, damn mechanic I ever had.”

After that marriage failed, he said he was so depressed he wanted to throw himself off a bridge. “But then I figured, what the hell,  Jesus can have me. May as well be of some use.”

That’s how he talked — “Jesus can have me.” Ed wouldn’t strike anyone as godly. He was a scruffy, Irish-Catholic ex-Marine from the Bronx. He liked to drink and smoke cigarettes. And he was a high school drop out. In fact, that’s how he wound up at the Academy of Hope — Ed got his GED in the military. After the service, Ed went on to college and a masters degree, but he never forgot he was a drop out. So he spent 11 years teaching algebra to other GED students until he died.

I don’t know when Jesus entered the picture for Ed. But he’d be cracking you up with some salty tale, and then apropos of nothing, he’d interject God. I heard that’s how he became a foster parent — “Well, I figured God put Ron in my path for some reason.” Maybe Ed was the original chump, a flaming codependent. His brother called him a “beautiful control freak” at his funeral. All I know is that if you crossed Ed’s path — he figured God put you there, and he was going to do something about it.

It’s not possible to write about Ed without digressing into a dozen, improbable good deeds, but here’s one. Ron, his foster son.

Ed was a contractor, and he was doing some remodeling for a slum lord in DC. The building was a dump. No heat. No running water. Ed discovers there’s a 14-year-old kid  — Ron — living in the building! — with no utilities, using a bucket as a toilet. He was the slumlord’s foster son. The man had a racket going with the District, where he’d take foster kids, collect the checks, and house them in his slum properties. Ron had been in the foster system since he was a small child. He had a steel plate in his head from where someone threw him down a flight of stairs as a baby. Ron had mental and emotional problems. Whether from his shitty life or from the metal plate, it was hard to say.

Ed was incensed to discover this kid living in filth and neglect, so he called the cops and got the slum lord busted. Which meant that Ron got sent back into social services. Only now Ed couldn’t stop thinking about Ron. What would happen to him? So Ed calls… Maybe he could take Ron for a little while? Let him sleep on his sofa until they found him a placement? Well… that placement wound up being Ed. He became Ron’s foster parent and took Ron to the Academy of Hope and made him get his GED.

You know that kid with the steel plate in his head passed? His other foster parent hadn’t sent him to school in years, but somehow with Ed on him all the time, he got a high school diploma. Ron used to speak at the fundraisers. It’s a true story. Don’t get me wrong, Ron wasn’t a perfect person. He still had anger issues, and pot issues, but when I saw him at the funeral, he was married and had a janitorial job with the city. This throw-away kid got a degree and was a solid, tax-paying citizen thanks to winding up on Ed’s path.

edandkidsSince his marriage fell apart, Ed was taking on more swashbuckling sorts of good deeds. He went to Ecuador to visit a Peace Corps volunteer from his church and canoed down the Amazon to bring supplies. But the best story I heard about Ed’s good works, was after 911 he got it in his head to go to Bali and volunteer at an orphanage. There was no plan, short of just showing up. He and a buddy somehow got through Bali customs with construction tools and drove around looking for orphanages. Story goes, they found a nun who greeted them saying “I’ve prayed and prayed for someone to come fix our roof and finally, you’re here!” He spoke about that trip a lot. It comes back into the story again later.

Anyway, suffice it to say, Ed was an exceptionally good guy, but a tough guy too. You really wouldn’t want to fuck with him, between the Irish and the ex-Marine thing. That day he was changing my locks, he was in a great mood because he had just gotten his dream job and was leaving town in two weeks. Between packing and getting ready to leave the country, somehow he’d made time to change my locks… crazy. He had just quit his job in the city with an organization DC Builds, which teaches building trade skills to kids in the juvenile justice system. Now he was going off to South Africa to do similar work for a non-profit there. I’d lived in South Africa once, so we were full of talk about the country and what to see and do.

About a week later — days before he’s supposed to leave town for South Africa — he calls me up to go dancing at Glen Echo. Dancing? Ed? It’s not a date. It’s a calculated manipulation to get me out out of the house — chastely of course — into the singles world and have some fun. We meet at the ballroom and he was wearing the loudest Hawaiian shirt I’d ever seen.

That’s when I discovered Ed could dance. I mean, really DANCE. Tango, swing, waltz. All of it. I laughed uproariously. It was the first time I’d belly laughed in ages. If you’ve gone through a divorce, you know what I’m talking about — that moment when you remember who you are, who you lost, and you laugh hysterically again. Ed didn’t let me dance too many dances with him. As other guys asked me to dance he’d flash me two thumbs up behind their backs. He was getting me out there, spinning around, having a good time. I said goodbye to Ed that night, and thought he might send me a postcard from Cape Town.

But that’s not how it ended. Two days later our mutual friend LeAnna called me to say Ed was in ICU. He’d had an aneurysm, days before he was supposed to leave for his new job. Ed should’ve died from that aneurysm. The force of it blew out his right eye and blinded him. But instead of dying, he woke up and asked for his dog, and his cigarettes, in that order. So now what?

smokeHe spent the summer in rehab learning to walk again. We used to go bring him cigarettes. For awhile he kept hoping they’d hold that job for him in South Africa, but it became pretty clear he wasn’t going to be well enough to take it. And they weren’t holding it either. He had too much pride, I think, to ask for his old job back. So I asked him if he’d help me fix up the house I bought off my ex in the divorce, which had a dozen half-finished remodeling projects (including a gutted bathroom).

“I’m not a charity case, Tracy.”

“I know Ed. It’s just that I really need the help.”

So that’s how I pitched it, and that’s how he accepted being my general contractor for 3 months.

I told him I’d pick him up from the subway, because he wasn’t allowed to drive now that he was legally blind in one eye. But the first day he showed up for work, he drove. Arriving in his beat-up station wagon, with blue plumber’s tape wrapped around one lens of his eyeglasses.

I freaked out. “ED! YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO DRIVE!!!”

“Calm down, Tracy. I see a lot better after a 6-pack.”

There was no controlling him, so I just learned to roll with it. He was indeed a “beautiful control freak.” Apparently nothing in my house was to code, or at least Ed code. A lot of the early days of remodeling were punctuated with long strings of expletives followed by “What?! Did they BRIBE the inspectors?! Who built this shit?!” And shaming anyone who tried to throw stuff in my rented dumpster. I remember when my neighbor Obeid asked if he could throw away an old AC unit and I said sure, and then he proceeded to empty the contents of his entire basement. Ed ran out there and confronting him shouting. “HEY! ASSHOLE! She’s a SINGLE MOTHER and she spent $256 DOLLARS for this DUMPSTER! Get your SHIT OUT OF THERE NOW and HAUL IT TO THE CURB, you tax-paying *&^%#$@!” Obeid sheepishly had to crawl into a filthy dumpster and retrieve everything but the AC unit. (He was a member of the royal family of Afghanistan, btw). Very awkward.

The other thing that drove Ed nuts was that I didn’t have any tools. I used to have tools, but my ex took them all in the divorce. Even if we had seconds and thirds of things, he took them. Every ladder, every hammer. Even the garden hoses. I didn’t realize any of this at first. I assumed it was in the garage, and would say “Oh yeah, I have one of those” and then discover I didn’t. So it was a lot of disheartening trips to Home Depot to replace shit I used to have.

The injustice of it used to piss Ed off, especially if he could tell it upset me. (The lack of a garden hose really did seem beyond the pale.) After awhile he’d say: “Don’t worry, Tracy. When this whole thing is over, you’ll have all the tools you’ll ever need.” Yeah, I thought, because I’m going to Home Depot every day…

I was working from home then, and so I used to make lunches for us. Ed was good company, and I think he appreciated my attempts to fatten him up. He’d lost a lot of weight in the hospital. I often sent him home with leftovers, or packed lunches. Ed told me a lot of stories about his life over those lunches. How he’d been married twice, but only really in love once, but she died of breast cancer. How he’d been shot down in a helicopter when he was in the service, and didn’t expect to survive it, but he did. Sometimes he’d tell me about his travels, but usually he took an interest in how I was getting on. How my son was doing since the divorce.

I remember though, that sadness would slip out a lot. Ed was a witty, positive man, but his health was depressing him. He told me he couldn’t enjoy things like he used to, he kept “waiting for the next stroke.” I listened and said all the ineffectual, lame things people say when faced with a grief bigger than they’ve known. He’d once had melanoma recently, and beat it. Now an aneurysm. I was writing for doctors then. I asked them about Ed. One told me he might have melanoma of the brain, and its fatal. Ed never mentioned that, but every now and then jovial Ed would slip, and the guy living with a death sentence would appear. I didn’t know what to say to that guy. I just made him a sandwich.

One day, we were moving a shower pan in from my car. He wouldn’t let me carry it. He was yelling at me, the guy who had a STROKE wanted to carry the shower pan, and would I please put the damn thing down and let him do it? As we hauled it into my garage he said “I hope I wasn’t a charity case, Tracy.” I said of course not, Ed, don’t be ridiculous. Don’t you see what I dump this place was and how much I needed you? I kept thanking him and telling him how much he had improved the place, even if a few of my neighbors might never speak to me again.

Then he hugged me. And told me I was a “wonderful person.” This display of affection was weird, and unprecedented. He was driving off to Albany that day, he said, to see his brother. It was a Friday, and I’d paid him. He was very specific about how he wanted to be paid, got kind of pissy about it really. He wanted so much in cash for himself, one check made out to his landlord, and another one made out to his church. Don’t ask. I didn’t.

I was afraid he was going to kill himself. Later that day, I said it out loud to a friend. It felt like a goodbye. But then I told myself I was being overly dramatic. Everything was fine. The guy was going through a hard time, and maybe seeing family would lift his spirits. And Ed said he’d be back on Tuesday. Christ, he would never  leave me with a half finished bathroom, would he?

LeAnna called me 24 hours later. Ed shot himself. He’d planned the whole thing out. He’d driven to Albany to save his brother the trip of coming to DC to have to retrieve the body. He’d checked into a hotel. Written letters to everyone, including LeAnna. In fact he had called me the night he killed himself and asked for her address. It was a short conversation. I didn’t realize it would be my last. He taped all the letters to the door of his hotel room. He included one for the police, and one for his funeral, that he wanted read out loud to explain why he was doing this.

In his pocket was a receipt for the hand gun he bought with the cash I’d paid him. And a receipt for his last dinner —  a nice one — with a couple rounds of scotch. He shot himself in the hotel parking lot because he didn’t want the hotel maid to find his body, he wanted her to find the letter and call the cops.

I don’t know why Ed killed himself. If he had a fatal illness, he didn’t tell us. But it would be exactly like Ed to not tell us. From what he said, I’m guessing he did. His letter at the funeral simply said he didn’t want to be a burden to the people who loved him, and he hadn’t made financial plans for his health care. He died with the cash in his pocket, which he requested be spent on beer for his funeral, which it was. He didn’t owe any money, and that check I wrote to his landlord was to advance his rent a few months.

The check to his church? Unbeknownst to anyone, he was putting two Balinese orphans through college. Had been for years.

And to me he left his tools.

After he died, I went to my garage, his demolition saw was still there and his coffee cups and cigarette butts. He’d locked the door of the bathroom he’d been remodeling. I had to have a friend come over and jimmy the lock for me, and there — locked in my bathroom — were all of Ed’s tools. His livelihood. The drill that fixed a Balinese orphanage. Left neatly in buckets with all the battery chargers.

“Don’t worry, Tracy. When this whole thing is over, you’ll have all the tools you’ll ever need.”

I was the last good deed of Ed Murphy.

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  • What a beautiful and touching tribute, CL. I’m not sure what prompted this (anniversary of his death?) but despite the heartbreaking ending, it was still a pleasure to read. So many people come into our lives and touch our hearts, even for brief moments. But it’s not often that we sit down and put our thoughts and feelings into words after they’re gone.

    This part, however, was a mind-fuck: “In his pocket was a receipt for the hand gun he bought with the cash I’d paid him.”

    JESUS!

    But it sounds like you didn’t blame yourself and accepted the fact that there was nothing you could have done to prevent him from taking his own life.

    What I find fascinating about this site is that so many of the Chump Lessons can easily be applied to other walks of life. You had to trust that he was suicidal, which he was most certainly was. With all of that planning and pre-meditation, he had certainly been planning an exit strategy for a long, long time.

    It’s so difficult to wrap my head around that mindset, but it does exist and has since the beginning of time. Especially in the face of failing health.

    Just last year, Bob Welch, one of the great, underrated geniuses of rock and roll (he anchored Fleetwood Mac during the pre-Buckingham/Nicks years) shot himself after getting a grim bill of health from his doctor following spinal surgery.

    Not wanting his wife to have to “care for an invalid”, he shot himself in the chest, leaving behind a 9-page suicide note.

    It’s absolutely devastating but as Pearl stated above, how lucky and blessed you were to have him in your life!

    • Thanks Chris. I debated writing about it here, because I know so many folks are depressed and I wouldn’t want anyone to think this was a legitimate way out. Frankly, I was angry with Ed for committing suicide, whereas my friend LeAnna accepted it sooner as him choosing his own way out ala Kevorkian. He was a beautiful control freak. And the older I get, I try to understand more, how horrible it would be to have a terrible diagnosis and know that realistically, you were going to burden someone, your family, the state, a friend. I think Ed was too damn chumpy. He couldn’t take the reciprocity of someone doing for HIM. It perhaps felt like failure.

      But the reason I posted it here, really, was thinking about good men. I wrote it in reaction to people like Sara8 or other’s I’ve read who think No Good Men exist after this. I know it comes from pain, but I think it’s important to remember that there are a LOT of good people in the world. And learn from Ed’s example — when he was depressed, he decided instead of jumping off that bridge to BE OF USE. To help. To reach out. I think he only killed himself because he couldn’t DO any more, for himself or others. His health got him down, and probably a fatal or grim diagnosis.

      I think Ed was exceptionally, freakishly giving. It pleased him so much to help people, and not in a treacly, Christian way. But totally joyous, and devilish good times kind of way.

      Paying for his gun DID fuck with my head however. I also left a lot out. I went through receipts afterwards and found out that he had bought a lot of stuff for me, that I was supposed to reimburse him for. He was sneakily doing for me more than I knew until after he was gone. I did feel like I should’ve “saved” him. That haunted me a long time. I lamely told him to get help, seek therapy. But some things he wouldn’t share, or burden other people with. I couldn’t control that and I see that.

      • Totally understandable. You may think your telling him to seek therapy was “lame”, or that you didn’t try hard enough. But honestly, even if you “302’d” him, i.e. called 911 and told the cops that he was a danger to himself, thus having him committed, there’s still no guarantee that that would have “saved” him.

        It sounds like you’ve come a long way from the shock and anger since his death. You may not have fully worked everything out, and may never, but this post is certainly a step in the right direction. 🙂

        Whether he died by his own hand, natural causes, a freak accident or by terminal illness, he was very lucky to have a friend like you to write such a loving eulogy. 🙂

  • This was a lovely and heartbreaking story. He was even thoughtful in death– it’s amazing how he thought more about not inconveniencing others with his suicide.

    I have always believed that there are good men, and my STBX’s behavior has never changed that. But thanks for a reminder that there are great people out there– and not just in the romantic sense.

    (((CL)))

    • Thanks MO. Yeah, that amazed me too — how thoughtful he was about his suicide, how weirdly detailed, how planned it all was.

      Of course, nothing at all is considerate about offing yourself. I wish he was still around.

  • Thank you for that story. I grew up in a family that always helped people and some of them were really ‘rough’. I’ve seen some really down and out people do some amazing things for others. Thanks for reminding me of the good in people, and how the bad shouldn’t make you lose sight of the good, I DO believe!

  • Oh CL, what a story that is! You know what I think after I read something like that? Why couldn’t he have had a nice, kind lady in his life. He lost the woman he loved to breast cancer. Lived a good purposeful life, mourned his wife and then got really chumped by the ex-wife ‘doing’ their auto mechanic!

    When I read this story and your description of Ed I thought about Clint Eastwood’s character in the movie Gran Torino. Ex-marine, true red, white and blue kind of a guy, right? Tough around the edges but had a damn good heart of gold.

    I’m sure you’ll NEVER forget this guy and I know you’ll think about him every time you use your tools. Didn’t want to bother anyone up until the very end. . . . WOW!

    This is why CL I think the next order of business for you and Chump Lady.com is for you to launch a former chump dating site. I’m serious, you match up decent hearted recovering chumps with other decent hearted recovering chumps. Unlike, a match.com where you pay a fee for service you post an up front fee to cover a verifiable background check. Kind of like a Angie’s list for dating. If I knew a guy had really volunteered overseas and used his vacation time to fix up orphanages and help out some nuns he would certainly get my admiration and attention. Much better than reading and believing the bullshit you see on Match.com like: kind, affectionate 55 year-old male likes sunsets, walks on beaches and driving my 60 foot yacht in my free time!

    • I’m all for chump hook ups, Hope.

      What I’m hoping with the forum is that there’s a private message and profile feature. And hopefully chatting over time, you can get a sense of someone and reach out as friends (or more!) if you want to. I think a chump dating site is a neat idea too, but I don’t know how you could prove anything, short of a criminal back ground check, and most serial cheaters aren’t criminals.

      But I do know several couples who met and married from infidelity sites, but I think these relationships just grew organically as friendships first. Dating wasn’t the object of the initial getting to know you.

      I’d worry too that people are vulnerable and PDs would seek out a chump dating site. I don’t know how to screen for that.

      • Yes, I understand the concern. I’ll will have to think about the screening element to prevent NPD type’s from taking advantage. . . .I do believe it can be done, but I will think about it more and get back to you!

    • He did, thanks!

      I left so many good stories out on the cutting room floor. But here’s one I learned at his funeral. I met this couple who told me that they were so sorry that Ed had died because they were going to invite him to their anniversary party. He introduced them. And therein lies a story.

      20 years earlier, she was in her 30s, pregnant with her third child when she was suddenly widowed. Her husband (ironically?) died of an aneurysm. Ed was her next door neighbor.

      So Ed goes over to this friend of his, who’s a lawyer and says “I have this friend, and she was just widowed at 36, with three kids, and she needs someone to settle her husband’s estate. Could you do her a favor, and settle it for her pro bono?”

      So then Ed goes to the widow “Hey, I have this friend who just got out of law school, and he really needs practice settling estates. Do you think you could help him out and give him some practice free of charge?”

      So they both meet each other thinking they’re doing the OTHER one a favor. (Ed was a manipulative bastard that way, apparently). And they stayed friends for a number of years, and then he was widowed, and the two of them fall in love and get married.

  • A beautiful story, despite my firm belief (perhaps a relic of my Catholic upbringing) that suicide is a sin and an incredibly selfish act. How many went without the blessing of this good man’s company because he opted out of life? His pain must have been immense. Yet he was clearly an angel in your life, as it sounds like he was in the lives of many others, which generosity doubtless far outweighed any disapproval his last bad decision might have earned him in the eyes of his maker. It is a giving away of oneself to which we should all aspire.

    You know, I have been struck many times since my D-day by how we all have opportunities to be angels in the lives of others. To hold them up, to bolster and support them in their hour of darkness, to will them forward when they feel like lying down and giving up. I will forever be grateful to an acquaintance of mine (I hardly knew him at the time, but also as it turns out a former betrayed spouse) who knew my story and swung by my law office shortly after D-day, found me stewing over child custody negotiations and more than half-a-bubble off plumb emotionally, and declared, “We’re going to lunch.” He then drove me to a 100-year old general store out in the country, where we bought some pelletized feed before continuing to his small ranch. He guided his truck over the cattle guard and up a small rise, parking in a mott of live oak trees. There he scattered the feed on the ground as a dozen cows gathered around us to chew quietly, with the obvious contentment, as the wind blew through the leaves over our heads. We hardly talked, there or at the tiny Mexican restaurant in the middle of nowhere he took me to after that. But it made a world of difference. Helped me to *breathe* again. Reminded me that life goes on: the cows need to eat, the wind blows through twisted old trees, and hand-rolled enchiladas bubble on a hot platter.

    Of course, CL, you are such an angel in the lives of many people as well, especially those who come to this site day after day to hear what you have to say. We are orphans of infidelity, in a way, and you are the ex-Marine with the salty mouth and a hammer in your hand, ready to shore up that leaky roof. And for that, we are all deeply grateful. I was never lucky enough to know your Ed, but I’d be willing to bet that he would have been damn proud of you and all the good deeds you’ve done for so many here.

  • There’s a lot of good women out there too. It’s what’s inside. The moral fibre of the person.
    It’s all about giving. Ed was a giver.
    Thanks for sharing this story. Chump lady you’re making a difference in people’s lives just like Ed has
    We all get belted from cheating and learn some tough life lessons but its what we do with that experience in the future that counts.
    Sometimes in life we only get a small window of opportunity to make a difference and Ed took that on board and may have saved Ron’s life.

    • Yeah, Baci, he was always looking for those “windows.” Most people ignore them, but he was a connoisseur of the help window. I think Ron saved his own life, but Ed gave him the stability — a home, some routine, and someone to nag him about his homework.

  • Oh, Tracy. I’m so sorry. That must have been so unbelievably painful for you. What a lovely description of a complicated and giving man. Your words made him come to life.
    Going to blow my nose, now.

    • Sorry about that. Yeah, there’s no way to tell the story IMO and not tear up a bit. Because it is dreadfully sad how Ed died. And perhaps pointless. Maybe he would’ve beaten whatever it was, or let the people who love him nurse him until the end.

      The point to me is that he lead an adventurous life full of good deeds.

  • CL, this is a beautiful story of Ed and of a life well-lived. Thank you for that. It clarifies a lot of things for me. I had always thought that suicide was a very selfish act, but not in this case. This appears to be a very selfless act to protect others from what he thought would be a burden.
    Also, it tells me that I don’t have to stop giving and doing for others as that has been a large part of my life that has always brought me happiness and good feelings. I guess, the key is to choose wisely who we give to. I also have never believed that all men are bad, even after being chumped big time( and the OW telling my kids that all men cheat, so get used to it) and have never wanted my daughters to believe that either. I do believe there are good people in the world, if I didn’t there wouldn’t be a lot of reasons for carrying on. Here’s to your friend, Ed…may he rest in peace!

    • Thanks. I still think suicide is a very selfish act, and I guess that was the flip side of Ed’s beautiful control freak — he was a control freak, and didn’t want to accept help, or deal with his frailty. I don’t know really. It’s entirely likely he was given a short time to live and took his own way out. But yes, he really was one of the best kinds of people. 🙂

  • This is an amazing story. I really needed this today. Thank you so much for sharing Ed with us. May he rest in blessed peace.

    • Thanks for sharing this with us CL. A good reminder that there ARE indeed good, wonderful people out there.

      Please keep up your great work and service to us on this site. I for one can’t thank you enough for your clarity & common sense you provide for us. Especially when you receive judgemental comments & postings. I am referring to David’s posting (today’s) & the previous postings of a week or so ago Don’t let that negativity put a stop to what you so generously impart to us.

      Ed would have been proud of all that you’re doing for us & at the example set and it’s message – there is a better life out there somewhere/somehow once we get through this.
      You’re great Tracy & we love your wisdom!

  • Tracy, thank you so much for sharing the story of your good friend, Ed Murphy. I have been so down and still so angry about being betrayed. Yet, this inspires me to continue to put my focus on the good people in my life. Perhaps to find my own inner Ed Murphy of continuing to help others that are struggling. What a beautiful soul. I am so sorry for your loss. But to have known such a person, you have gained so much. And for that you are truly blessed to have such a friend. Though he committed suicide, I am a firm believer that charity covers a multitude of sins. He was in such pain and inner turmoil. My heart goes out to him, his family, and all his friends. Yet while he walked this God-green earth, he was a true example of really understanding and put into practice what our purpose is: to live authentically and to help people that are struggling. Pay attention. And show up. He did leave you with all the tools you needed, Tracy. Thank you for building that bridge for all of us chumps. By doing so, we are making our way to the other side of empowerment, wisdom, strength, dignity, and guts. You are an inspiration to us all. Thanks again for sharing!!

      • Thanks Rose. That was beautifully said and I teared up reading it. God bless, Ed, he was really good at showing up. It was kind of his biggest gift, really. Anyone else would’ve shuttled Ron off and thought they did their part by calling the cops. Disturbing story and forget about it. Ed takes it on. Anyone else would probably figure someone else had thought to change my locks. Not Ed, he showed up with his tools. He did, as you rightly point out, make a point of helping people who were struggling. He didn’t have the easiest life, I’m sure he struggled. I always admired his ability to get outside himself, see the absurdities in life, and have fun.

  • Hebrews 13:2 reminds us to ‘not forget hospitality to strangers for by doing so some people have entertained angels unaware”. Ed was certainly an angel. Sent to you when you needed him. The sad fact that is when people commit suicide they leave behind the legacy of “what if” But like you said he was a beautiful control freak and did it his way. You do honor to your good friend by keeping his memory alive and sharing his story.

  • CL,

    Thank you for the incredible story of an ultimate anti-narcissist.

    I did find myself frustrated that Ed took his own life, since he seemed like such a rich contributor, but, in keeping with my vow as Chump Son, I feel we have to accept the choices that folks make. What blows me away about this guy (and I know I’m repeating myself) was that he was THE ULTIMATE ANTI-NARCISSIST. He was the opposite of selfishness. I’d bet that he did have that fatal illness, and he went out on his own terms.

    Ed was a hero. Thanks again for this story.

  • CL – This is not only a beautiful story, but beautifully written. Thank you so very much for taking the time to share it.

    Your writing style is incomparable. I think you should copyright this story before somebody steals it and makes it into a movie. It is that good!

    • moda, that’s weird– CL, I was actually thinking that “I was the last good deed of Ed Murphy” would make an excellent book title. You really do have tons of material here for a book (fictional or otherwise). And if you ever need a copy editor, don’t hesitate to ask… 🙂

      • What a good read that would be!!! You know? I also love this site because there are so many people from all over the world, different ages, cultures, backgrounds, political/religious views, from all different walks of life. Yet, we are all here in support of each other and have something to offer to help one another! How cool is that?

      • Exactly! If this writing isn’t already being planned for a book, it should be. I want an autographed copy. Book first, then screenplay. I’m not kidding…

    • CL, I agree with moda. You ARE a very good writer and could do books or screenplays- seriously. I second the copyright plan.

  • **DAMMIT** Tracy,

    You’re making me cry for the first time in 6 weeks.

    Ed sounds like the kind of guy I *thought* I was marrying–the kind of guy I want to marry one day.

    More interested in knowledge than in paper degrees. More interested in living right than using cutesy words to replace swear words. Who does the right thing because its the right thing, rather than thinking up justifications on why its okay to screw over someone who trusts you.

    He was a decent, hardworking, *humane* person of integrity. And that’s worth a hell of a lot more than half the asses in pews on Sunday morning.

  • I’m relatively new to your site. It’s been about two months since my spouse left. I’m actually doing pretty well and have been almost since the beginning. Today, I was feeling even better b/c I am feeling closer to indifference. Still, I wanted to visit your site because it’s a source of clarity, sanity, and strength for me. I did not expect this lovely story about Ed. I thank you for it and all your kindness in sharing your stories, and helping us share ours.

  • Ed. The ultimate anti-narcissist. He still lives through CL’s eloquent writing. I’m sure he’d be pleased (maybe is pleased?) to know this.

  • I’m so sorry for you loss, CL. I totally get WHY people kill themselves, but on the other hand, I feel its such a traumatic thing and I’m sure there must’ve been a part of you, that was kicking yourself. (although there was of course, nothing you could have done differently) I don’t want to say that its abusive, but in a way, I think it is– just because the living are the ones who have to live with the trauma.

    Its a selfish act and quite frankly, I don’t see it as not being narcissistic. (I’m not saying that it IS narcissistic, but narcs can be extremely generous and GIVING. but its only to get and Ed did not seem like that at all.). My husband, the serial online womanizer is actually a lot like this. very generous and giving… and a very “nice guy.” He’s the “go to guy.”

    That’s side A.

    side B… ahhh… much different tune.

    so, which is the REAL him? well, they both are… and the really great guy who comes over and puts dimmers on all my switches is the one I miss… but not the one with the secret life.

    thank you for sharing such a beautiful story and also for acknowledging that a lot of us are depressed. Ed was obviously a really great guy, but also tortured and its sad that he couldn’t come out of it, but I hope and pray that he has found his peace.

    • You know, Laurel, I totally agree with you. I don’t think Ed was an anti-narcissist. He was exceptionally giving, and in a very UN-narcissist way. He didn’t talk about his good works. I knew about Ron through a friend and AoH. I never knew about the orphans he was supporting. But Ed WAS very narcissistic in the way he lived in many respects. Driving while legally BLIND? The rules don’t apply to him. Unilaterally deciding to off himself.

      Perhaps with all “renegade” sorts of non-conformists there is a big narcissistic streak.

      But as far as I know, Ed was a chump. A betrayed spouse. He liked the ladies, while single. But he wasn’t a womanizer.

  • I agree–the man is an angel.

    I’m sorry he was in so much pain in the end that he wanted to end it all, but it seems he lived a very good life.

    You made me cry at work today!

    I couldn’t help but contrast this story, and your touching portrayal of a beautiful man, with the description written of you by a troll on your last column here.

    Just keep being you. Does it make me a sycophant if I say that?

  • What a gem … and what a perfect name. Ed. I’ve had a few ‘Eds’ in my life too, including an actual Ed who was an unofficial uncle — he was a lifetime friend of my grandmother (and apparently she was the love of his life, I learned after they’d both died), and was always, always doing small, kind, practical things for her. He’d also grab us kids, one at a time, by the hands and swing us around in wild, huge circles. Ed was reeeally tall — at least 6’6″, and had size 14 shoes. He’d drive me and my brother around, and we used to laugh our heads off, thinking that his feet were so long they were curling up and over themselves under the dashboard.

    Such men are rare … and they are real. I’m so glad you and Ed were friends … and he died as he believed he had to. I also lost a friend, another *good* man, to suicide. It made absolutely no sense … and later, years later, it did. My friend was in intractable pain, and he kept it well hidden. Didn’t want to inflict it on anyone, and when he started to inflict it, he decided to go. Nearly 20 years after his death, what remains with me is the sight of him on an August afternoon about four months before he died, running around his riverside back yard in a pair of bathing trunks, festooned with freckles that I swear I can still smell. He smelled like sunshine.

    The memory of a *good* man remains for as long as we live. I cherish the Eds of the world …

    thank you so much, CL xoxo

  • Chumpster… Is it the Buddhists that say that we all die twice? Once when we take our last breath and again when no one thinks of us or remembers us anymore? If so, you have given Ed a new lease on life. It might not have been easy for you, but it sure was cool.

  • What a beautiful and gut wrenching story. It is such a horrible possibility – and to some it must feel completely unworkable…. the idea that someone else’s life will be burdened by the necessity of caring for them. I think its especially true of parents, the last thing in the world they want is to have created that burden for their children. This man’s story is not just a terribly sad story, but a story about bravery – that moment of clarity when someone says, if this is what its going to be…… I don’t want it. I will not have it. And it may be that the window of taking control is closing fast. I know so many who wished, when they still had something to say about it….. that they were, whatever it takes in a person’s life, able to make a decision that would save them from what they saw as a fate worse than death.

    It is a terrible grief either way. We all touch each other in so many ways – known and unknown – would it make a difference if we could really know? Our individual experience is so often that we are our own universe, separate and discrete, but, as it turns out….. that’s not true at all.

  • CL,

    Thank you for your beautiful, tragic story. It just knocked me across my living room.

    I’m up late, sleepless and edgy. I found your site surfing mindlessly. If I cared to, I could hit the back button, but I don’t want to lose your site on my creaking, geriatric laptop.

    I just attended the funeral of a family friend today. He took the same way out that your lovely friend Ed did. A violent suicide, leaving behind a grief-stricken wife of 29 years. Everyone is seeking answers, especially his widow. Brutal depression is the most likely answer, but I am shaken to the core.

    Finding your site is so very timely for me. Not just because of the heartrending story of Ed, but for the very reason you started your blog. I, too, am a Chump.

    My takeaway from your site, the story of your beautiful friend Ed and my confusion of today, is simply this – LIFE is SHORT. It could be over tomorrow (as illustrated by my friend and Ed). There really are good guys out there. I need to seize the day, stop sniveling and go forth to a more rewarding life.

    You are officially bookmarked. A heartfelt THANK YOU, Chump Lady (and one to Ed, as well).

    JVB
    Dallas, TX

  • I think we should all be so lucky to know someone like Ed in our lifetime. I am glad that you saw the value of a true man like this and appreciated him for who he truly was.
    Rest in Peace Ed

  • I was rummaging through your archives when I came across this. I was so touched. Angels really do exist. (In rare form, mind you.)

    Sometimes people come into our lives for a fleeting moment. This person was good-hearted and had his flaws, but that didn’t stop him from trying to do right by people. There is so much to admire in that and I feel like I fall short in comparison.

    Thank you for sharing. This truly touched my soul.

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