by David Herman
Andrew Pattison Murdock, or “Andy” to those who knew him, was a unique part of North Grenville. Andy did not seek out friends; as a matter of fact, some would say he discouraged friendships. For those who did get past his “Crusty” exterior, he was a very intelligent man who had lived an extremely full and, at times, exciting life. He loved his Border Collies and his Scottish Longhorn Cattle and his horses. Towards the end, he had to part with the cattle and horses because, after all, Andy was over 90 years old. He told me once that he was slowing down, because he used to be able to carry two of the large bags of feed, one on each shoulder, that he bought for his horses, but he could only manage one at a time now.
Andy loved to tell about his experiences during the Second World War, when he was ferrying airplanes built in North America to Europe or the far East. You see, for the later part of his life, he had settled to a farm in Heckston and you would think he had never wandered too far from the hayseed; but Andy had been around, oh, had he been around! He had been a member of a Hunt Club in Toronto when it was a haunt of the elite. He showed me a photo once, of himself and his horse going over a fence on a hunt.
He loved to garden and would put out hundreds of transplants in the flower beds in the spring. In his greenhouse he started all kinds of vegetables and would generously share transplants or, in the fall, the harvest. He helped us with advice on how to plant and get the most out of our plants. He told me that he had a gardening show on the radio long before Ed Lawrence became the Gardener’s guru.
Andy was well into his 80’s, and he was still heating his house with wood that was cut from his own woodlot. I can remember hearing his old tractor, with an even older wagon behind, that he would take to the woodlot empty in the morning and, later in the day, I would see him heading home with the stove lengths of yet to be split firewood in the trailer. He would proudly explain how he got the big blocks of wood into the trailer. He said, “David, you have to work smart, using your head, not your back”.
Andy passed January 31, 2017, in his 95th year, having been born in Scotland in 1922. I have been told that it was his wish to go out quietly, with no formality or announcements of any kind; but he never expressed that to me, and it doesn’t seem right that a person can live for almost a century and then leave us with no chance to say good bye. He was very fortunate to have been able to live out his life in his home by himself with his dog till the end. I have to acknowledge the kind help he received from friends that allowed Andy to do this. I miss Andy, and wish I had been able to spend more time with him. Good bye Andy.