Under Golden Gate Bridge

The restless waters where we laid you to rest. (photo by Connor Bowen)

...a story told while scattering ashes.

Once upon a time a boy, and a girl, were born in this city, six years apart.

The boy grew up in the Sunset, tended the Park, and joined the seminary before reaching high school. The girl, with her air force family, lived in many different states in her early years, but soon moved an hour north of the city, where grapes still made room for apricots, almonds, walnuts, and more. She rode horses, picked fruit, and went a little wild. She taught the deaf.

Irish Catholic family parties always include a priest or two. One day the young man, who had been a priest for seven years, and the young woman met, and fell in love.

This was forbidden. But they did it anyway.

old color photo of Anne and Phil sitting on a grey couch, side by side, foreheads and fingers touching.
Love sparks c. 1972 (photo by Marino Colmano)

Love carried them through scandal, family pressure, ostracism. They got married. They bought a home. They bore a girl, and then a boy, of their own. The young man, Phil, went into the workforce. He quickly found that corporate life didn't suit. The young woman, Anne, rolled pennies to make ends meet, and encouraged him to follow his heart to his next calling.

This was hard. But they did it anyway.

She baked bread, took hikes, and never failed to smile. He found a small job helping a non-profit, took on a few clients of his own, and never failed to read, when he got the chance. She supported his new business, and also found work that suited her - magazine editing, seminar coordination - and always her family came first. Circuses, plays, concerts, surprise trips ride roller coasters - even a trip to Japan. The kids were never bored.

His business grew, and he made a name that was equated with trust, clarity, and kindness. She made sure things worked smoothly, and helped him remember his keys. They both liked being silly.

a black and white photo of our family - Anne and Phil sitting, each with a wiggling kid, ages around 11 and 9, in their laps.
Murphy family portrait c. 1985 (photo by Robert Del Tredici)

Of course, life brought drama, too. Heart trouble for him, then her. Medical woes
that wouldn't end. Their kids even turned in to teenagers. It happens. But their open hearts and open home made life - even when unbearable - pretty darn fun.

They were sad, sometimes. But they laughed anyway.

They brought friends together, hosting dinners custom-made to
introduce people, even match-made a marriage or two. When their mothers grew older, they took them into their home. First the practical Kathleen, Phil's mother. Then, after she passed away, they brought the reluctant, ever elegant, Eileen home. During all those years - close to two decades - they still welcomed friends, exchange students, and family into their home.

It was crowded, but they did it anyway.

Music, art, and - when their mothers had both gone - travel. They both
liked being curious. They made to New York, Italy, Ireland. (Anne never made it back to Japan, but it never left her heart.)

Illness, in secret, then out loud, intervened. First her, them him. Seizures, with a long recovery time, for her. Then cancer, with no mercy, for him. It took the time they thought they'd have, but they made the most of it anyway. She showed us how to bounce back. He showed us how to leave with grace. She left in pieces, following him at her own pace.

Mom, Dad, we miss you. We're glad though, that you never - or only faintly - knew the pandemic. We're glad you knew and loved our children, however briefly. We're glad we were yours.

Nothing we can say compares with laying the dust of your bodies, together, in the mouth of this bay beside the city loved by that young girl and boy.

You're gone. But we love you anyway.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

by Wendell Berry

In Memoriam Gifts

​Anne and Phil loved and supported the work of so many local organizations, several of whom they worked with for many years, and especially Audubon Canyon Ranch. Memorial donations are welcome there, or at a local organization that is meaningful to you. If you'd like to let our family know about your gift, the Audubon Canyon donation page asks for a name and address. You're welcome to add: Christina Bowen: PO Box 604, Lyle, WA, 98635

In 1988, Phil convened a gathering of colleagues called 'The Every So Often Club', which turned into the Northern California Planned Giving Council, which even preceded the national association. After Phil's death in 2017, NCPGC established the Founders Fund in his honor, dedicated to educating planned giving professionals.

Obituary listings

Note: Post published in October of 2023. The listed publication date for this post is backdated for the family to the date of the scattering of ashes, and Anne's memorial, July 16, 2023.

Christina Bowen

Christina Bowen

knowledge ecologist