Island icon, Carol Murray, remembered as generous, caring and fiercely independent
Carol Murray, 91, died on Nov. 25, at Memorial Regional Hospital, not of COVID, but undoubtedly a victim of the virus. She had lived in Key Biscayne for several decades, most recently on 201 Galen Drive.
Carol and I met in March of 2020, as part of the Key Biscayne Community Foundation’s COVID volunteer program to help seniors. The credit for getting Carol into the program goes to Myriam Restrepo, who signed her up, knowing that she needed help and would not reach out.
“My” senior, as I fondly refer to her, was fiercely protective of her privacy. Carol was a survivor, but her world had mostly collapsed around her. After three early miscarriages, two bouts of cancer, the death of four husbands, car accidents, other medical challenges, ruthless financial advisors, the absence of family, and the deaths of every one of her remaining friends, she was not going to give in now and ask for help.
Last August 15, I found Carol several hours after a nasty fall on her kitchen floor, with a broken arm and wrist, and a bleeding head wound. Our excellent KB Fire Rescue was there in just a few minutes to take her to the hospital. This is where COVID caught up to her.
All nurses, doctors, staff, social workers and every person who tended to Carol in the hospital and at rehab were overwhelmingly patient, gentle, friendly and caring. I have no idea how they manage to do their jobs while risking their own families and themselves, yet maintain the level of empathy and compassion they displayed every single time I reached out. My complete gratitude and admiration go to these frontline workers!
Carol loved coffee, soft cookies and putting on makeup. She was a sharp dresser. Photos of her as a young woman show her in elegant, tailored outfits.
She could be hilarious but also aggressive and grumpy. She loved to cook and had the burn scars to show for it. On the way to her doctor appointments she proudly recited the name of all streets, highways, and neighborhoods. Ice cream and sushi were favorites – as was V-8 juice.
We made German soup together. She loved it when I poofed up her hair into a little wannabe chignon before taking her out on my golf-cart. Baby, her three pound Yorkshire Terrier mix was the apple of her eye – and would sometimes come along for the ride.
Keeping track of her reading glasses was an on-going endeavor. Together we found the softest dishes for lunch, visited the beach, and dangled her feet in the water. She told me she had not been to the beach in 10 years.
She loved our rides to Bill Baggs Park while sipping iced coffee, looking at the boats, the birds, and the horizon.
When I learned that her 91st birthday was coming up (she was born on Aug. 4, 1929), friends came together to help make it special. After dressing up and doing her makeup, we went to the Key Biscayne Yacht Club for a sunset and a martini celebration – generously serenaded by talented violinist Zach Buttrick and surrounded by friendly strangers.
Thank you, Frances Reaves, for your help and advice on the paperwork I needed to assist Carol during this time,
Thanks to Helena and one of her sewing ladies for helping to get some of Carol’s clothes altered since she had lost weight.
With the help of Alexis Holloway, I found a new “forever home” for Carol’s dog. Thank you, Belinda, for giving Baby a new lease on life!
And thank you to the many friends and neighbors on Key Biscayne who helped me while I took care of Carol.
Goodbye, Carol Murray!
The Carol Murray Memorial Celebration will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 9 at the biggest tree on the Village Green. Please wear a mask and help us be safe.. Carol would have wanted that!