By Marsha M. Brown
As many of you who read ‘GIG LINE’ faithfully my ‘sweetie pie’ Billy and I have had a lot going on since February this year. Unfortunately ‘GIG LINE’ being so important to both of us has taken a back seat more often lately than I would have liked or expected but only because of serious medical issues that came out of the blue this past February absolutely prohibiting me at times from writing about and for the veterans we think about and love every single day…and I’m sorry.
GIG LINE has been a constant in our lives since March of 2012. Over the past few years, it’s been a means of consistent communication to our veterans and their family members and a means to remind you all how much we care about and appreciate you all. It grieves my heart that I’ve had to skip a few weeks here and there over the past few months but taking care of my veteran around the clock has taken precedence. So, from this point just know this…you are on my mind every single day…no matter what else is going on…the very subject of “veterans” is and will always be of great important to both of us.
This past week my ‘sweetie pie’ and I celebrated our 48th Anniversary. At his hospital bedside here at home we held hands and talked (mostly me) about ‘back in the day’ when we courted those seven weeks, got married and started our life together. A few times during the mostly one sided conversation, Billy smiled, laughed and tears raced to his pillow…just like they did the first time he shared his heartache about Vietnam after our honeymoon in 1968.
We talked about his veteran friends…those who came to his “Benefit” in March; those who have stuck by his side as members of the Outer Banks V.F.W. Post 10950, the American Legion Post 26, the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council and many others who have sent cards and money to help us…most who know him personally and some who have never met him both who live here as well as those far from the Outer Banks; I reminded him that some of his buddies have sat at his bedside, held his hand, prayed over and for him, kept him ‘up to speed’ on local veteran happenings and read to him out of the veteran magazines he receives monthly; I read text messages and emails that veterans have sent and I’ve replayed voice mails from veterans who had called to say they miss him and how much they care. Billy laid there still and quiet with his eyes wide open.
Above his temporary hospital bed situated in our dining room is a country style white wooden shelf with hearts cut out of it. On the flat surface are his V.F.W. and American Legion hats loaded with pins that relate to his service, unit, Vietnam etc. Hanging from the pegs are his veteran and D.C.V.A.C. caps beside pictures affixed with scotch tape on the back that are of Billy with military friends; at events offering poppies to raise money for veterans and standing beside a costumed man dressed like Uncle Sam shaking his hand at the ‘Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans’ event in Charlotte, NC just a few years ago. Billy was drawn to the hueys and he connected with and befriended countless Vietnam veterans that day. Outside our slider is a beautiful stationary American flag that flies gently in the daily breeze. Our swimming pool that looks so pretty this time of year is quiet – I joked with my hero about how funny we must have looked to the folks who jump out of the planes skydiving overhead – two ‘fatties’ in the pool…but then I consider how much weight he has lost and nothing about it is funny any more. I hold his hand…his sweet strong hand and I kiss it…over and over again. I try not to cry…I do my best to hold the strong emotions that at times overwhelm me…I know short of a miracle this will be our last anniversary together.
I grieve every single day when I anticipate the change that is coming in my life…in my children and grandchildren’s lives…and then it dawns on me that many veteran spouses have mourned at their husband or wife’s bedside too…sometimes for months…sometimes for years and sometimes with no notice at all because the spouse left behind is notified suddenly their precious love is gone…perhaps killed in action. It brings me back into focus that I have had so many years together and a few months to kiss on him more, hold his hand tenderly, tell him how wonderful he is and hear even now no matter how bad he may feel say the words spoken more faintly each day…”Love you”.
GIG LINE is just one of the many things Billy influenced, inspired and that hopefully has and will continue to touch fellow brothers and sisters.
Just know that I will do my best to write each week if time with Billy permits. Until things change, it is not lack of interest or dedication to veterans that it may skip my column now and then…it is more that every single minute…every single second with him is priceless.
To all the women who have that empty seat at the table, I commend you for your strength and courage. I love you all. Please continue to pray for my Billy, our children and for me. It will be O.K. – God is good and His mercy is great. He blessed me with the most wonderful husband, father to our children and best friend I could have ever have asked or hoped for. I am indebted to God and to all of the veterans who inspired my sweetie pie that he strived each day to thank and give back to. God bless you all.
Until next time…be it next week or the next, just know how proud we both are of your service, your love of country and how you continue to serve all Americans every day. Be happy, be safe and be proud. If you know a vet who needs help, please let us know because there are many fellow veterans out here who care. Write to email@example.com or call me at (252) 202-2058. Stay tuned.