Pattie Murphy spent every appointment that her husband and son had in our shop for the last five or six years, and I would always hear her before I saw her.  There was no middle ground with Pattie- she was on, and she was turned up to eleven.  She was a no-bullshit, call-it-like-it-is woman, and her love of life and joy for everything was infectious.  Did I mention she was loud?

This past summer was the last time I saw Pattie Murphy.  She hobbled into the shop on a cane.  She and Murph later explained that she had fractured several of her cervical vertebrae and didn’t even know it for a few days.  And then soon after she broke her hip as well as some other leg bone that I can’t recall.  It would be an understatement to say that she had had a challenging few years.  As a breast cancer survivor, Pattie’s bone deterioration was a sign of some resurgent cancer, but she was still spirited, loud as hell, and as feisty as her cane and fused cervical vertebrae would allow her to be.

While Murph got tattooed, his Pattie kept him (and me) company as she always did, telling me about their latest adventures and plans to return to Ireland for a vacation.  While Pattie was there, she saw a young man out in front of our shop who was trying to get his toddler into her car seat.  The young dad became frustrated, and in his impatience, he gave his little girl an angry jerk.  Pattie jolted upright, like a porcupine quill.

“Oh, hell no!”  She exclaimed.  “Don’t make me go out there and beat you with my cane because I will fucking do it…” She was pissed to see this dad lose his temper with his daughter, and broken neck or not, she was trying to get up to hobble out onto the sidewalk to beat some parenting into his ass.  I remember this so vividly because she used the term “shit bird” to describe him (and I had never been acquainted with this species of fowl). “You little shit bird…” she murmured as she half rose out of her seat to get a better view on what the dad was doing.  “You little sh-…  Oh.  Okay.  Okay.  Oh, that’s alright.  Okay.  He’s giving her a kiss on the head now.”  Pattie sat back down, quickly going from code red to chirping away again without missing a beat.

That young dad had no idea how narrowly he had avoided the berating of a lifetime from Pattie Murphy.  That was Pattie: no injustice too small.  She was karma’s fist.

Pattie passed away this weekend, but I’ll think of her everytime I choose to confront every small unkindness and injustice.  Look out, shit birds.  Pattie lives on in all of us.