By Marsha M. Brown
A Man & His Truck
Many columns ago, I wrote the story about my sweetie pie Billy’s truck and how much it had meant to him and even today, the story moves forward.
Back in late 2002 he had driven to Chesapeake, VA for something unrelated to looking for a vehicle but as it turned out and being a truck and car enthusiast, he called me that evening and said he had stopped at the Toyota dealership ”just for the heck of it” and that they had a brand new 2002 Toyota Tundra 4 Door Access Cab 4WD. It was love at first sight! As it turned out his unplanned visit just to stop for a minute turned into a ‘stop and shop’ having already been qualified for the purchase by the time he called me.
Bless his heart! He was so happy! It had all the features he wanted, and he liked the color; though considered to be red, it was more of a deep red wine color. I could hear in his voice his hope and excitement of possibly getting a new truck…a Toyota being his favorite…but could we afford it? he asked. I knew it would be tight but with his full time Dare County Water Plant Superintendent position at what was then known as the R, W, S Water Plant in Rodanthe (later renamed Joseph ‘Mac’ Midgett Reverse Osmosis Water Plant) and my real estate sales…yes, we could manage to buy it.
It wasn’t that Billy couldn’t have just called and told me he was buying it (whether I liked it or not) but that wasn’t my Billy. He was more considerate than that…he really wanted it but only if he knew I was okay with it considering it was a big expenditure. We talked about it for a few minutes and when I told him we’d have to tighten up more financially but of course I wanted to see him get it…his reaction was priceless.
Men aren’t babies if they show their emotions of joy or sadness; they aren’t wusses either…men who are strong enough, bold enough and respectful enough to consider their partners in life are to me the ones who stand tallest. I also think they are secure enough within themselves not to feel slack if they care and show it. I say “BOO” to the guys or women for that matter that treat their spouse or significant other like what goes out in the morning trash. I’m proud of Billy and I’s marriage…we’d have a spat now and then…nothing too drastic…were never separated overnight except on business trips…we always kissed each other at bedtime and cuddled; we called when either one was out of town; we respected each other’s space and embraced each other’s friends; we prayed together and we worshiped together whether at church or in bed thanking the Lord for His blessings at night before sleep…he was my Billy…God’s precious gift to me…then our two children & four grandchildren blessed us even more!
Fast forward…his ‘Big Red’ was one of the many things that made him happy and proud. He later added stainless dual exhaust and he loved every minute he drove it. When I was planning to have it painted for his birthday in November 2015, his choice of guys to do it (Mr. Coy Ambrose, Manns Harbor) because of his good work & outstanding reputation) was on schedule overload so while he noted the color from the driver’s door of what paint to order…it was impossible to do it in time for Billy’s birthday.
Only months later February 22, 2016, we came to realize the sudden difficulty in Billy’s memory wasn’t age, Alzheimer’s, or Dementia…it was a deadly brain cancer…Glioblastoma Multiforme IV. In essence, from that point forward too much else took precedence for a paint job expenditure. Billy went to Heaven only four months later July 12, 2016.
Many of you who read GIG LINE (thankfully) have heard this before but what I want to bring up is that long after Billy passed, I wrote about his “Toy” in November 2019 and how I wanted to paint it as I had planned before we knew he was sick. And after it was published, I got a kind note from a gentleman (I believe to have been a veteran) who commented that maybe I should consider leaving Billy’s truck just the way it was…the way he last drove it…basically to preserve it as original to Billy.
I always read and care about feedback I get from all of you whether through text, email, or phone calls. And it meant a lot to me that the gentleman had voiced his perspective on the topic. After thinking about it, I decided he was right…it was just as Billy had driven it last…and I hold dear anything and everything that meant something to my husband, so it made sense.
Then about six months ago, I met with another Vietnam veteran at the Roanoke Island Animal Clinic to issue his Dare County Veteran Discount Card while he was there for an appointment. As we talked outside by Billy’s truck, I told him his truck was my “Vet-mobile” and how I knew she wasn’t pretty to others, but she was to me and that I conducted all of my veteran related business in it. I also relayed the story about why I had not painted it since he passed.
To my surprise, he fully understood the opinion of the vet who wrote to me about preserving it as Billy had left it, but…he gingerly pointed out how the body was deteriorating. Paint had almost completely peeled off the hood (even before Billy passed) and though it had held up well regarding rust…it was showing unfavorable signs it needed rescue.
Again…for the second time I agreed with a veteran…another hero Vietnam veteran who was sensitive to my thoughts but who looked objectively at Billy’s ‘Toy’ and the decline in her condition. I had told him Billy had wanted to get the hood (at minimum) painted before he got sick and before my intended birthday surprise. He responded pointing out the fact that with him being so fond of it that he would want to keep it in decent shape…I had to agree. But I’m still glad I took the first vets’ advice and held out for as long as I could.
I can’t have it painted right now, I must save up first, but I will do it as soon as I can. I love you guys (and gals) who love their trucks and I’m grateful for your taking the time to write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or text/talk to me on my cell: (252) 202-2058 in a business’s parking lot.
Until next time, Sunday, March 13th be healthy, safe, and happy. And by the way, if you ever miss seeing GIG LINE in a Sunday edition of The Coastland Times, please look for it in that week’s Wednesday’s paper. My computer is much like my washing machine that literally eats my socks…sometimes it seems to consume my writings when I finish and save it…until I exhaust all efforts to retrieve the work and forward it to the paper!
Take good care of yourself, pray for our soldiers, airmen, seamen and Marines wherever they’re stationed or deployed around the world. Pray too for the military and civilian men, women and children suffering daily from the onslaught of the Russian invasion in Ukraine that seeks to destroy them. Remember that I love you all; that I’m sincerely grateful for your service and sacrifice and for our beautiful symbol of freedom…our red, white, and blue American flag that so many look up to. God bless you all!! Stay tuned!