Douglas Alan Lockwood can pinpoint the exact moment that something changed in his perception of Linda Marie Cadranel Murphy. It was July 2020 and, it seems, they were in a Zoom meeting.
Mrs. Murphy, 74, described a man she had taken on a series of walks with. He only spoke about himself and never asked questions about her, she said.
She and Mr Lockwood, 72, had logged on to Zoom that day to meet other members of a support group coping with one of life’s most painful losses: that of an old husband.
The two had lost theirs to colon cancer. David Murphy, Mrs. Murphy’s 46-year-old husband, died in December 2018 at the age of 69; Jacqueline Lockwood, the 47-year-old wife of Mr. Lockwood, died in May 2019, also aged 69.
In the time since the support group first met, Mrs. Murphy and Mr. Lockwood had come to see each other as trusted confidants. After recounting her experiences during those walks, Mr. Lockwood confirmed her decision not to see the man again. “How dares he?” he remembered saying, and then, “You go, girl.”
“Of course,” Mr Lockwood added, “I said I was briefed on what is probably pretty normal male behavior.”
But her mere mention of the man, to Mr. Lockwood, was a revelation. By talking about him, Mrs. Murphy signaled to the group that she was open to meeting someone new. Though she was, company was about all Mrs. Murphy thought she could handle at the time.
Before her husband died, he told Mrs. Murphy that his death should not stop her from enjoying life. “The fact that I knew he wanted me to be happy without him was a gift,” she said. Mr. Lockwood’s wife expressed similar feelings to him before she died, he said.
Mr. Lockwood and Ms. Murphy first met months earlier, at an in-person meeting of their support group hosted by Hospice of Santa Cruz County, in September 2019. She lived in Santa Cruz, California, and he lived in nearby Ben Lomond, California When the official program ended after six sessions, members continued to gather for monthly potluck dinners, which became virtual meetings after the pandemic set in.
A mother of two children in her 40s and a grandmother of four, Mrs. Murphy grew up in Los Angeles. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and has a master’s degree in English from Sonoma State University, where she also received a degree in education. Now retired, Mrs. Murphy spent 37 years as a drama teacher at Branciforte Middle School in Santa Cruz.
mr. Lockwood has four children, ages 35 to 47, and three grandchildren. He is a retired environmental sustainability consultant. He is originally from Pasadena, California, and is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
By the time Mr. Lockwood learned that Mrs. Murphy was open to new companions, he knew he wanted to be in a committed relationship and get married again, he said. Certain qualities that Mrs. Murphy had displayed over the months they’d met made her seem like someone he could do that with.
“I thought she was smart, funny, sensible, attractive and we had a lot in common,” said Mr. Lockwood.
Asking her to go for a walk would be a good first step, he thought. But he couldn’t do that right away.
In August 2020, shortly after Mrs. Murphy returned from visiting one of her children on Lopez Island off the coast of Washington state, the CZU Lightning Complex Fires ripped through the Santa Cruz Mountains. Being outside was not only dangerous, but Mr. Lockwood also had to evacuate his home in the mountains. (It was not damaged and it came back a week later.)
After the fires were extinguished, Mr. Lockwood suggested we go for a walk in October. While unsure of his intentions—the two had never interacted outside of their support group—Mrs. Murphy agreed.
“I was intrigued and curious and thought, ‘Well, why not?'” she said.
Prior to their outing, Mr. Lockwood had a haircut, took his dog Penny, a mix of corgi and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, to the groomer, and bought a new polo shirt and shorts.
They walked around Santa Cruz Harbor and along Seabright Beach, stopping for a snack at Aldo’s Harbor Restaurant along the way.
“I was so charmed by how easy it was to talk to Doug,” said Mrs. Murphy.
After they broke up, he called her again later that night and the next day.
“There was just a lot of communication going on,” she said.
The outdoors seemed the safest place to meet because of the pandemic, and more hikes followed, including along Twin Lakes State Beach in Santa Cruz and through Pogonip, a local park with a network of trails.
“There are times in your life when you meet someone and you immediately feel a deep connection,” said Mr. lockwood. “I have a strong feeling for that with Linda.”
Not expecting to fall in love again, Mrs. Murphy was surprised by both the depth of her emotions and the speed with which they developed.
“Without your long-term partner, you become a whole person in a different way that is authentically who you are,” said Ms. Murphy. “That part of me was really connected to Doug and who he really is.”
Francie Newfield, Mrs. Murphy, described her as someone who is usually very willful. But when Ms. Murphy started spending time with Mr. Lockwood, Ms. Newfield said, she quickly went from “I don’t know what to think” to “I really love this man.”
“She was dizzy,” Ms Newfield added. “If I felt that a good friend was making a hasty decision, I would advise him; that was not necessary here.”
Their first kiss came weeks after their first walk in October: Mrs. Murphy kissed Mr. Lockwood on the cheek, but only after a friend advised her on Covid safety.
The following month, in November 2020, they went away for four days to Gualala, an unincorporated area in California’s Mendocino County, on the coast. They stayed at Mar Vista Farm + Cottages, where they cooked meals using on-site vegetables and eggs from the brood of hens.
After that trip, they both told their children that they were in a new relationship. Mrs. Murphy said hers were immediately pleased with the news. But some of Mr. Lockwood’s children had reservations at first, he said.
“They were concerned that the family was already traumatized and that a new person is now being introduced into the mix,” he said, adding that over time they became more comfortable with his relationship.
Despite how quickly Mrs. Murphy fell for Mr. Lockwood, she was still hesitant to remarry. But he was resolute in his desire for a new husband, telling her, “Marriage is what I know and what I want.” His conviction eventually convinced her to embrace the idea.
“Here was a man who was so committed to it that I believed in it,” said Mrs. Murphy.
Mr Lockwood proposed in December 2020 and spontaneously asked her to marry him while the two were at her home one afternoon. Wedding planning didn’t begin until a year later, after Mrs. Murphy had a knee replaced in November 2021.
After the procedure, Mr. Lockwood stayed with Mrs. Murphy “to take care of me, and then he just stayed,” she said. (He still owns the house in Ben Lomond, which is 18 miles away.)
On April 23, the two were married in front of about 55 guests in the backyard of their Santa Cruz home by Dave Parker, Mr. Lockwood and a Secretary of Universal Life. Mrs. Newfield was Mrs. Murphy’s best wife and Alexa Horne, Mr. Lockwood’s good friend, as his own.
In his comments, Mr. Parker recited lines from “Winnie-the-Pooh,” chosen by the couple, “I love you simply because you are you. Every day I spend with you is my favorite day.”
He also asked their guests, “Can we, Linda and Doug’s family and friends, agree to love and support them in their life as a married couple?” They did, confirming the answer with clapping and cheering.
“Sorrow bursts at you,” said the groom. “A lot of defenses and barriers are falling, and there you are.”
“Ready, possibly, for new experiences,” he added.
On this day
When Apr 23, 2022
True The backyard of the couple’s home in Santa Cruz, California.
the clothing The bride wore a deep blue lace dress and carried a bouquet containing a medallion with a photo of her parents. The groom wore a dark gray suit. His dog, Penny, who also attended the ceremony, wore flowers on her collar.
Open house After exchanging vows, the couple held a reception attended by another 110 guests, who walked in and out all afternoon. Jerry Pike, a neighbor, and Rob Bird-Robinson played music. For dessert, two carrot cakes were served from the Buttery, a bakery in Santa Cruz. One was decorated with the words ‘Doug and Linda surrounded by love’ and the other with ‘Happy Day’.