‘He always said he was going home'

Idaho StatesmanMarch 18, 2007 

Gladys Murphy is surviving the deaths of three family members in the last two months, including her second husband, Larry Murphy of Meridian.

"My brother (Frank Magers) passed away Jan. 19. Larry passed away Jan. 22, and my youngest son (Dean Hartman), who was 43, died Feb. 19," said Murphy.

"So, yes, it has been a rough time."

It's almost been a month since the cremated ashes of Larry were dispersed in the scattering gardens atop the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery. Gladys can't hold back the reservoir of tears she has built up inside when she talks about his life, his success, his unfulfilled dreams, and the love they shared.

The cancer which ultimately claimed his life had metastasized from Larry's bones to his brain four months prior to his death. It was too difficult for him to sleep lying down. Instead, he sat upright in a chair through the night.

"If I didn't fall asleep on the couch, if I went to bed, he'd ask me to come out (to the living room)," said Gladys. "He would say, ‘Honey, I'm scared, come talk to me."

Like they had done for almost 30 years, the couple sat and talked about their cross country trips in their Winnebago, which they lived in full-time since 2002.

Although they traveled extensively since retirement, they never had a chance to drive the scenic highway to Alaska.

"We still talked about traveling," she said. "Right up to the end, we talked about going to Alaska. It was going to happen."

Larry was born in the midwest town of Coolville, Ohio. He joined the Army after high school and served for 10 years, two of which were spent in Vietnam, where he frequently came into close contact with Agent Orange.

"He was going to stay in the service and re-enlist, but (the military) wanted to send him back to Vietnam. God let him out once and Larry didn't want to go back again," said Murphy.

Larry went on to become a Senior Electronic Technician at the Zilog plant in Nampa. He retired after 25 years, and that's when the couple purchased their motor home.

"That had been our dream from the time we bought our house," said Gladys. "We traveled everywhere, back and forth across the United States two or three times. We did this two years and then sold our house and went full-time (in the RV)."

One year during the snowbird stay in Florida, Larry had a job at Disney World, where he donned Mickey Mouse ears and greeted thousands of people.

"We really didn't talk a lot about dying," said Gladys. "He always said he was going home. He believed very much in God and an afterlife. He said he would be with a lot of good company, but he would still be lonesome."

Gladys will be in good company with family next winter — but like her husband, she, too, will be lonesome.

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