Austin couple are testimony to love, fidelity
By Enedelia J. Obregón
When Ray and Myrlyn Murray took their wedding vows nearly 66 years ago, they took them very seriously.
They’ve been through the in-good-times-and-in-bad and the for-richer-or-poorer as they raised three children. Now they’re at the in-sickness-and-in-health part of their marriage.
"Our loyalty has always been to each other and our faith," Ray said. "It’s not an easy thing to find today. People forget how important respect and discipline are. You have to stay with it and never give up."
For many years, it was Myrlyn who took care of everyone, especially during the 23 years Ray spent as an Air Force pilot that often sent him away from their Bennington, Vt., home. Ray, who retired as a lieutenant colonel, is now the one taking care of Myrlyn in their Austin home.
Ray, who will be 94 in May, became the main caregiver for Myrlyn, 89, after she spent a few months in a nursing home following hospitalization with lung problems.
"I would visit every day ––sometimes twice a day," Ray said. "I got lonely here."
Realizing that there’s no place like home, he decided to bring her home about three years ago. He brought in a hospital bed and placed it in the living room, where she now stays full-time. She’s petite, so in the beginning he could lift her with a bit of help from her. But after she fell and hurt her spine, her health deteriorated and he got older, making it more difficult to care for her by himself.
Ray was adamant that she not return to a nursing home; he hired a home health aide several times a week.
"I didn’t see it as a burden," said Ray, a good conversationalist who likes to sit in his comfortable chair near his wife’s bed. "It’s about love. You either express it or you don’t."
The couple’s faith has seen them through thick and thin. Most recently they were parishioners at St. Thomas More Parish in Austin. Ray attended Mass regularly until about two years ago when he couldn’t leave Myrlyn alone.
Anne Foley, a Eucharistic minister at the parish, began bringing them Communion several times a week. She spends hours with them each time she visits and the three have become friends.
"It’s a beautiful love story," Foley said. "But it’s more about their commitment to their vows and their fidelity."
Their oldest child, Randy is now 62 and lives in San Antonio after 30 years in the Air Force. He is the reason his parents moved to Texas. He visits regularly, and recently recalled the faith-filled home in which he and his sister Barbara and brother Scott were raised.
"Mom took good care of us," Randy said. "When we got hurt or in trouble, mom was there."
They attended Mass on Sundays –– Randy was an altar boy –– and the children attended Catholic school during the week. Myrlyn and Ray were both lectors while living in Vermont. Randy studied in the seminary for a while until he discerned he was not called to the priesthood. He remembers his father attending Mass before going to work.
Ray still recites the rosary every morning before he gets out of bed.
"That’s what pulls me out of bed," he said. "I read books –– I stay away from smut."
Randy said his parents have been role models for him and his siblings, including getting educations. Ray got his college degree at age 72. It took him nine years to do it part-time.
"The basis for all of it is their faith," Randy said. "They’ve always been good, caring, dedicated and hard working. Their religious values are associated with all of it. They are a great testimony to that."
The couple met when Myrlyn was about 16; she was working at the Paradise Coffee Shop.
"She had striking red hair with curls," he said. "I was attracted to her."
When asked what she remembers about the first time she met Ray, she replied, "I thought he was good looking."
"That’s the first time she’s said that," Ray said with a laugh.
But it was wartime and he was quickly gone. When he returned, "She was all grown up," Ray said. Turns out she also lived three doors down from him. Myrlyn was raised Episcopalian, but converted to Catholicism when they got married.
Ray knows that God has cared for him all these years for a reason. He remembers during World War II and he was stationed in Scotland, he was scheduled to fly to Paris but got taken off the plane by his commander at the last minute. The plane was shot down on the mission.
"Don’t tell me I wasn’t taken off for a reason," he said.