By Marsha M. Brown
This has sure been a busy week for me and everybody else I know! The weather produced some rain/thunderstorm recently but beautiful days too and on behalf of our flowers…I’m thankful!
Lifesaving Blood: we can’t live without it, and when folks need it…they REALLY need it! If you’re physically able to donate blood at the OBX Community Blood Drive, sponsored by our OBX First Responders, please mark your calendars and do so at the upcoming Tuesday, June 7th 10-4pm & Wednesday, June 8th 12-6pm event @ Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, 301 West Kitty Hawk Road, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949. They will offer homemade cookies and raffles and they’ll eagerly welcome you with grateful hearts for taking the time to help save lives. So, thank you in advance!
As I’ve mentioned before, the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council is in the process of making application to host (in conjunction with others), ‘The Wall That Heals’ in 2023 (2022 being totally booked). When we first sought information about organizing helping to host the massive and striking image of the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial (fondly referred to as ‘The Wall’ in Washington, D.C.), we came to realize how much in demand this incredible reminder of the sacrifice of our American soldiers in the Vietnam War is and that the application cannot be submitted until Memorial Day. Once submitted all applications will be reviewed resulting in a November notification to the sites selected. We’re hoping…and I’m praying that we will be one of the fortunate areas selected to showcase this incredible reminder of a time in our history that we will never, ever forget. As time goes by, I will keep you all informed. Our dedicated Veteran Service Officer, Patty O’Sullivan is overseeing this undertaking and hopefully, it will happen.
Speaking of what ‘The Wall That Heals’ means to many of us, my arms have been empty of an extraordinary and loving husband for six years this July due to his exposure to Agent Orange while serving our country with the U. S. Army in Vietnam. A big handsome burley guy who was as strong as a Brahma bull and gentle as a lamb died only 141 days following diagnosis with a debilitating brain cancer Glioblastoma Multiforme IV.
Once sudden unexplainable changes began to occur with his memory, his clear thinking, his recollection of ordinary everyday things…an MRI revealed it was the deadly cancer. In front of me, he only cried once. We just held each other, and we wept, then he looked at me and asked “Why, Marsha?” We held each other close, and I told him just as so many times throughout our marriage how much I loved him and that we would get through it together…like we always had…but we both knew this wasn’t just a bump in the road, this was huge…it was Mount Everest.
After Billy heard from his most favorite physician, Dr. Johnny Farrow (Manteo), he asked our two youngest of four grandchildren to come to our home. He wanted to tell them himself. Billy sat in his favorite recliner and the kids sat on the floor close by. He began by telling them how much he loved them…how proud he was of them being good kids…kids that loved each other and our son, their loving Dad whom they idolized. Then, he told them that if they remembered anything he had ever told them in their life, to remember to always hold themselves in high regard; to do good things for others; and to never do anything they would be ashamed of; to respect themselves; and to be proud of who they were and who God had made them to be. Then he shared the horrible news that he was dying.
We all cried and held each other and for the last few months of his life watching his heartbreak that he could no longer drive (he had loved to drive every vehicle known to man for as long as I had known him…John Deere tractors, police cars, ambulances, Trailways buses, hydroplanes and everything in between…he could no longer drive per doctor’s orders for fear he could have a seizure behind the wheel. But…as tragic as the news was, he took it and while I don’t know how many tears he shed in the shower or on his pillow…he did all he could to protect me, our son and daughter and our two older grandchildren who were out of town when he told the two younger ones…he helped US…he lifted us above the sadness he felt…he was the tower of strength who made the best of every day…and he embraced the days he had left; he enjoyed his countless visits from his veteran brothers and sisters; his fellow members of the OBX V.F.W. Post 10950 and our American Legion Post 26; his staff from the two Dare County water plants he was superintendent of and our attentive church family. Folks came and sat at his bedside in our small dining room, reminiscing about ‘back in the day’ memories when he was a Deputy Sheriff and organizer of the ambulance service he managed through the Dare County Sheriff’s Office. He was loved, respected and considered a mentor, a leader, a good Christian man who had a dry sense of humor with all sorts of ‘Billy-isms’ much like “Yogi” Berra…funny, charming and a joy to be around; my sweet Billy was kind and tender hearted but tough, resilient and determined to excel in every task he took on and even with his competitive nature, he cared about the underdog…always. He was the kind of man that every woman in their right mind dreams of…a protector…a strong shoulder to cry on…a sexy lover (who would blush bright red when I’d tease him about how ‘good’ he was in bed but who loved it just same)…he was a faithful man who loved the Lord…Billy depended on the Lord a lot in the jungles of Vietnam…and throughout his life…his faith in God was strong and unwavering…a man who loved his home grown beefsteak tomato with mayonnaise sandwiches and shrimp…fried shrimp, in fact it was the last big meal I cooked for him at home…his plate was piled high and he enjoyed e-v-e-r-y single morsel…”Thank you babe, this is sooo good”, he said taking no notice of his freshly shredded cole slaw and hushpuppies…he relished the pile of sea jewels and as he consumed them, one-by-one, he grinned as if this meal he loved was his last and in essence…it was. Within days after that, he was hospitalized at Duke and his appetite diminished greatly. My incredible husband and I were brought together by Almighty God. He knew we were meant for each other…He knew we were just what each other needed…I thank Him every day in my morning prayers for loving me enough to bring Billy and I together. Thank you, God.
Acknowledgement: Dare2Care OBX Shred Fest event held on Saturday, May 21st is an annual event that includes honor to our veterans and fund raising for our Veterans and Special Needs Communities. If you were not aware or unable to attend, please look forward to it in 2023 as Lisa Brickhouse-Davis works tirelessly to include honor and special recognition to our men and woman service members. It’s always held at the Soundside Outer Banks Event Site in Nags Head and all ages enjoy the music and fun for a very worthy cause. Hats off to Lisa and all the volunteers and contributors to the event.
The Council’s Cellphonesforsoldiers.com drive has resulted in a significant collection of used, old and broken cell phones that will be refurbished, repaired or parts used to create an opportunity for our soldiers to communicate with their family and loved ones. We will be retrieving the collection boxes at the four current locations at the end of May for the summer; then set them back out again in the early fall to resume collection.
Memorial Day is Monday, May 30th and coming quick! Please note the following locations and times of ceremonies in recognition of our heroic men and women who have sacrificed so much for us and if you’re able to attend, I hope you will, its an honor to honor our heroes:
Southern Shores Cemetery @ 9am
Kitty Hawk Austin Cemetery @ 10am
Hatteras Methodist Church @ 10am
Manteo Cemetery @ 11am
Dare County Veterans Memorial (Manteo downtown) @ 11:30am – 300 Queen Elizabeth
Kill Devil Hills Veterans Memorial @ 12:30pm
Services are performed by the American Legion Post 26 and Veterans of Foreign Wars (V.F.W.) Post 10950
Until next time, be healthy, safe, and happy! Thank YOU to all our veterans who have served and Active Duty who currently serve this GREAT nation. God bless you and keep you safe wherever you are stationed and throughout your military career. We are in your debt…always and forever. I love you all from the bottom of my heart. Stay tuned!