Murdoch is Good Company!

Murdoch is Good Company!


His father used to say this after spending time alone with Murdoch. My son Murdoch is good company. Not rambunctious or argumentative, not boring or scary, not noisy, rude or disruptive, just fun to be around; he is active and athletic, but peaceful and intelligent.

The fifth of our children and the last, as it turned out, we may have spoiled him at times. But other times he raised himself. We were busy, and he was so unobtrusive we did not notice he was doing something dangerous or illegal, and he rarely got in trouble.

Robert and Murdoch escape 1975 September

There were some incidents, of course. Many were inspired by his older brother Robert. Especially when he was very young, the adventure they had going up to the tenant house to visit our tenant’s new baby at 4:30 am stands out in my memory as the worst one. Those little boys in their pjs walking barefoot up the gravel driveway and crossing two cattle guards was frightening to me. When Murdoch said, “Mommy, Mommy, the horses runned up to us!” I could picture those tiny boys being trampled in the middle of the night. Luckily horses seem to have a sixth sense about little children.

Murdoch hat
Murdoch hat

Murdoch loved to wear hats. He always had one on his head when he was small. Certainly, until he went to nursery school, he wore a hat all day, every day. He had a real fondness for one of mine, which was bright pink and made of straw. I don’t like pink very much and did not mind him taking over my hat. Seeing this tough little boy sporting my straw hat was so cute. But he also had cowboy hats and bike helmets, motorcycle helmets; he had birthday hats and riding hats and just plain cold weather hats. In looking through photos for this post, I have had to choose a couple, but there are so many pictures of Murdoch in a hat it made me laugh out loud.

Murdoch hat and gun

One day the boys were shooting B B guns with friends. A ricochet BB hit Murdoch in the eye. Since they had pinned a target to a tree outside in the yard near the playroom, they had forgotten that the solid tree was not a good thing at which to shoot. The BBs sometimes flew back at them. Of course, his father and I were horrified when they told us about this accident. I could not see any problem with the eye, but there was some redness. We went to bed hoping it would be OK.

The next day I took him to the doctor, who examined him and told me that he must be admitted to the hospital and stay there for three days. “WHAT???” I could not believe they wanted to keep him. The doctor assured me it was for his safety. He said, “He needs complete quiet and bed rest. He may have bleeding behind the eye. That could cause blindness.”

Murdoch in hospital

Of course, that got my attention. I agreed to leave him in the hospital. Good LORD! I would NEVER have done that today. But I was about 42 years old and still willing to believe what doctors told me. However, this turned out to be a lesson for me that I never forgot. If Murdoch had stayed at home, I would have made him comfortable, sat him in front of the TV with a few dogs, read to him from a chapter book, and cooked him his favorite foods. But instead, he was in a cold and unfriendly hospital with little to do and gross food.

I did not spend the nights with him there. In those days, they were not as aware of how important it can be for the family to be with a child in the hospital and their rules were strict. So on the second day, when I visited him there, I was shocked to see Murdoch was not in his room. “Where is my son?” I asked the floor nurse. She told me he had to go for some tests. She directed me to where he was headed. As I walked down a long corridor, I could see a child in a wheelchair at the end of the hall. The child (Murdoch!) was doing “wheelies” in the chair, using his hands to propel it faster and faster and then turning on a dime making the chair tilt as it circled. I guess they thought they were keeping my child quiet and safe, but they were not. Lucky for everyone, Murdoch’s eye healed without incident.

Grub forever Murdoch
Murdoch and Helen

When he was still in elementary school Murdoch and his brother, Robert, and some of their friends challenged their older brother Charley and some of his college age friends to a mock war on our property. Heathfield had marvelous terrain for boys playing at battles. There were rock cliffs which were impressive but not too high. Little River ran along the edges of the property and there were miles of stone walls, woods and open fields and little hidden dells as well as a knoll where oak trees grew. This spot overlooked most of the property. I was worried about this “gang war” of big kids in their early 20s against 12 and 13 year olds. It seemed like an uneven battle and I feared injuries. In the event it was the young boys who won. It was a hot summer day. After about an hour (or less) of running after each other all over the property, the older boys came back exhausted. They were tired and thirsty and totally out of shape for keeping up with the younger boys! “Are you just resting?” I asked them. “No! We are done. They win. We are too tired to keep this up!” Murdoch was especially happy about this win! He was one of the youngest in the contest.

Here is to YOU, Murdoch!

There are so many sporting events to talk about but space limits me here. Skateboarding was one of his favorite sports. Tennis, skiing, swimming, football and of course Lacrosse were part of his youth. He learned to ride early but preferred other sports until later. Now riding is probably number one. He was the one who broke bones and had concussions and nearly shot his own eye. But he is still fit and healthy to this day.

Like all of our children, Murdoch went to Hill School in Middleburg until he went away to Eaglebrook, then briefly to Lawrenceville. But after one year there, he returned to Virginia, to go to Episcopal High School, where he excelled. He was an exceptional Lacrosse player. He won the Virginia TILT. ‘The Invitational Lacrosse Tournament’ and was named first-team all-American in Lacrosse. He also held the scoring record for most points at Episcopal for some time.

Then he went to Denison University, where he played college Lacrosse Division III. He took his Rhodesian Ridgeback Simba with him, and they both lived in his fraternity house. He met many girls, but Simba often pushed herself between them on the couch. When the right girl, Susie, came along, Simba approved. ( It turned out she had been feeding dog biscuits to Simba for some time) Murdoch and Susie married less than a year after graduation.

Susie and Murdoch expecting first baby

They moved to Charlottesville and soon began a family. Three beautiful children and I don’t know how many dogs (lots and lots) have grown up in their lovely home. The property also accommodates horses, which have become increasingly important in their lives. As a successful Real Estate Broker, Murdoch is busy and effective. Susie and her friend, Christy, created The Scout Guide. Murdoch and Susie became so involved in the Keswick Hunt that this year Murdoch was appointed one of the Masters of Foxhounds. In our Foxhunting family, this is a splendid accomplishment. We are all so proud of him.

The newest Rhodesian Ridgeback is growing every day.
Lovely Family

Your family is gorgeous and talented, and all your children are in college. What an accomplishment! Today, January 29, 2023, you are 49 years old as I write this. Happy Birthday, Murdoch!

Copyright©. 2023 Bonnie B. Matheson

3 thoughts on “Murdoch is Good Company!

  1. Truly I feel as though I am getting to know your children ?! What joys they are and have given you such joy and love??????!

  2. Happy Birthday Murcoch! I remember Murdoch and Robert staying with us on Falmouth Road and riding big weels in our driveway. Murdoch went to Episcopal with my son in law
    Chris Jacobs and have stayed fast friends.

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