By Marsha M. Brown
At this time of year we’re consumed with red hearts, sweet words and loving expressions toward many special people in our lives. Children make merry using construction paper, scissors and glue to create original one-of-a-kind cards; men & women alike shop for flowers, boxes of chocolate and jewelry to express love and romance toward their significant other.
Thinking about Valentines Day and the tradition as we know it, I wondered about our deployed troops and their loved ones here at home who miss them terribly. I considered the many holidays that our brave men and women in uniform forgo throughout the year while serving our country. Do the cards and gifts that are mailed to them reach their destination on time? How many active duty personnel don’t receive any expressions of love…from anyone? It occurred to me that it would be nice for supporters of veterans across Dare County to initiate a campaign at their church, school, civic center and work place to collectively gather cards & letters expressing the American spirit of love and appreciation for our troops so that at this time next year and every year thereafter we can send them to our troops. What do you think about it? Will you help?
Everybody needs love. It’s our nature to thrive on it. We visibly flourish when love is apparent in our life. And you know what? you can never get enough of it. That little four letter word is powerful, life changing and at the top of things essential to life…right along with breath itself.
Years ago before we had a hospital here and for that matter even before we had the nursing home ‘Britthaven of the Outer Banks’ I wanted to take a Nurses Aide class. At the time I was working as a Clerk II with Home Health at the Dare County Health Department in Manteo and my Mom had just been diagnosed with lung CA. Each morning before I’d stop to see her on my way to work, I’d ask God to help me show and give her just what she needed, love, support, encouragement, hope and peace. My tears fell along with my prayers and when seeing my Billy and our children Bill and Bonnie off to work and school before I’d make my trek to Momma’s house, I’d ask them to pray not only for Mama but for me too. I needed their prayers to hold up, to be strong and not show her my heartache. And somehow…because prayer makes a difference, I always had a bounce in my step; I kept a smile on my face and I maintained a joy that I could hardly believe myself. I was happy every minute I was with her. I was happy to have that time with the most wonderful Mother anyone could hope for. I was sad yes…of course and my heart was broken especially as I saw her breath become shorter and shorter…but God gave me the grace to handle it and find things to laugh about with her despite the circumstance.
One morning before I left home to attend a 6:00 AM ladies prayer group at Manteo Baptist Church, Mom called me. She told me she wanted to go too and asked me to pick her up. I was shocked. “Are you sure Mom? Are you OK? Are you up to it?” I asked. Her reply was without pause. “Yes Marsha, I’m O.K. and I want to go”. Living in Manteo and not far from the church we arrived there within minutes.
During the get together we’d ‘lift up’ those who were sick, lonely or who had special needs in our communities. With our chairs circled, our heads bowed and eyes closed everyone who felt led to speak or pray out loud did and to my surprise even feeling the way she did, Mom spoke up and very sweetly thanked God for her blessings. She thanked Him for my Daddy, for all of our family and for all of the blessings in her life. She asked for forgiveness for anything she had done in the course of her life to disappoint Him and then she told God she loved Him.
My having been a part of that special prayer group meant the ladies were well apprised of our family’s situation but they were all moved to tears. Mom knew she was seeing life fade but she was still thankful…for the years she had been here to love each of us, to be loved by us…and to love God too. She was calm and her words though low in volume were as clear as a bell. She prayed for my Dad and asked God to help him (in her absence), and then she thanked God for His sacrifice.
We left the prayer group changed that day. We collectively knew our personal troubles weren’t so bad after all. We individually wanted to thank Him more often for His unconditional love every single day. We wanted to embrace the testimony of a lady…a true lady who valued life and the simple but profound origin of true ‘love’ and the joy of knowing it up front and personal.
My Mom having passed away at age 52 from lung CA and having realized what our tender care had meant to her over the last six short months of her life pre-diagnosis, I was inspired to comfort others as well. I did find a source to teach the class hours conducive to my work schedule and the 240 hour Nurses Assistant Class yielded me an ‘A’ in both classroom and clinical application. Mama inspired that.
This Valentine’s Day my thoughts are of course about the love of my family, friends, church family but our veterans too. My hope is that we grow and show the love our service men and women deserve not only at Valentine’s Day or Christmas but all year long. Our active duty and veterans experience emotions we can only begin to imagine but never truly know. Take one hard look at a veteran and what do you see? The embodiment of a love that is void of challenge. Veterans (your) love is for their (your) loved ones but also for country…our flag…our principals…our heritage…our uniqueness that draws people to us but also to our willingness to fight for good things like peace, happiness, safety and opportunities to see dreams come to fruition. Our veterans are a symbol of the greatest love second only to the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.
My goal well before this time next year is that our folks on the Outer Banks exert a special effort (in the work place? in our churches?) to encourage interest in creating and collecting hundreds of Valentine’s Day cards to be distributed among our deployed military members…wherever they may be.
Like my precious Mama and so many who lived shorter lives than we expected…they are not forgotten. They never will be. Special acknowledgments of sincere love and affection are unforgettable no matter from where they come. As Americans who know the power of love, faith, hope and charity…we’re only one kind deed, one hug, one tear away from the best we can be…for not only each other but for ourselves too.
Please call me (252) 202-2058 if you have a question or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ; if you want to acquire your Dare County Veteran I.D. Card or if you’d like to join V.F.W. Post 10950 or the American Legion Post 26. Their current members would really enjoy your company…and they need you!
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY weekend everybody! Kiss the ones you love. Hug the ones you like. Make new friends when you can. Embrace someone that has no one. Thank the good Lord for your blessings because you have a ton of them…even if you don’t realize them all or have forgotten. God bless you all!