How Quickly Life Changes

It has been a few weeks since I made my last Camino post. I thought it was the final one relating to this trip but a life-changing event occurred that has prompted me to write one more entry.

It was the evening of June 7th, I was recovering in Mijas Pueblo, Spain. I had tossed and turned all night not knowing why. I had finished my Camino 3 days earlier and the quiet of the night was suddenly broken by the ringing of my cell phone. Answering quietly, I heard my sister-in-law Julie at the end of the line. Groggy as I was, I knew something was wrong. Dad was gone! He had a sudden heart attack and was dead. How quickly life changes.

I remember an anguished guttural cry and suddenly being transported to when I was a little girl just wanting to hide in the safety of her mommy and daddy’s arms. Now they were both gone. My heart broke at that moment.

21 hours and 3 plane rides had me dazed, sleep-deprived and confused but back on Canadian soil. I never thought I would get back. Seeing my brother Kevin at the airport was all I needed to allow the tears to flow. The next few days were a blur with arrangements, appointments, phone calls, and of course the visitation and funeral. I don’t remember much but the love of family and friends. The tributes were beautiful and it was obvious my father, “Mr. Marvelous” was loved and respected by so many.

My brothers and sister-in-laws grabbed the reins and helped out until I could get there. Being the eldest and the only girl means that I am usually the first point of contact for assistance when it comes to dad.  With being out of the country, they took the lead and I can’t thank them enough for all they did.

Julie, my heart swells thinking of how difficult making that call must have been. You are an angel. I felt the love and empathy over the phone that horrible night.

Last picture of Dad and me
Taken at the Dundas Street Grill before dad drove me to the airport. He was so proud and happy for me. I will miss you dad! xoxo

My beautiful sons Philip and Joel were by my side and we were all together for the first time since my mom passed away 5 years ago. It was wonderful feeling their support. I am so proud of what they have accomplished but more for being good people.

I thank those that helped our family; for the random acts of kindness and for all your gentleness. It was appreciated.

My father, “Mr. Marvelous” was a treasure. He was my rock, my cheerleader, my mentor and a terrific father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, brother and friend. If I said I wanted to do something, he encouraged me to try. If I was successful he would brag to anyone who would listen; if I was unsuccessful he was the soft voice and heart to help me find the lesson and encourage me to try again.

The Camino prepared me for this loss. Dad emailed me an hour before he died congratulating me on my Camino triumph, telling me he missed me and that we had a date for a Skype call the next morning at 11:00 am. He was tired from a long drive from up north and had a great time on the annual MGM fishing trip.

I am so grateful to have had him as a father, a mentor and a friend. We spoke almost every day and now when the phone rings, my heart sinks knowing it won’t be his voice on the other end. I know it will get easier in time, and although he is no longer here in body, I know his spirit and legacy lives on in me, his family and those he influenced with his MARVELOUS outlook on life.

I pay homage to my dad by continuing to live fearlessly, travel, explore and challenge myself. Making memories is the key, and only keeping things around me that make me happy. Life is too short!  On June 7th, the world lost a good man. He is now singing with the angels and likely looking for the next big deal.

Thank you for everything dad!

Dedicated to my father Barry “Mr. Marvelous” Murphy who will forever be my life compass. I love you! Born April 17, 1933  Died June 7, 2017

Completion certificate
Official compostela or completion certificate received after Camino.


  1. Donna…. this tribute brought tears to my eyes. I’m so sorry you had to go through all of this so far from home & your dad. My heart goes out to you & your boys.


    Sent from my iPhone



  2. You are such a strong and amazing woman – who should be looked up to for inspiration.
    I know after reading your beautiful post – you have given me strength …..
    Love Andrea (and Ian) MacGregor

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So proud of you on our walk. So sad for the finish line holding so much pain for you. I trust your dad had a well supported passing. I was only in my twenties when I lost my father. You have been lucky. Go buy a lottery ticket!


  4. Donna…what a beautiful tribute for a remarkable man with a wonderful legacy. He left a very special family and many friends to remember him always. Cheers to you Donna you rocked this one!!!
    Sending hugs and kisses to the entire Marvelous Murphy family.


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