By Marsha M. Brown
To everyone who faithfully reads GIG LINE, I apologize for not submitting my column over the past two weeks. This November 1st was my sweetie pie Billy’s birthday and the first time he wasn’t here to celebrate it with us…he would have been 70. Feeling his loss, it was important to me to take some time away from home and my daily routine and go away with our children, grandchildren and several of our closest friends to celebrate his life, reflect about the impact of his life on ours and consider the beautiful blessings we’ve experienced knowing and loving him for all these years. We traveled south to some of his favorite places, ate at his favorite restaurants and knew in our hearts that our excursions together in his honor would have made him smile. We created new, happy and unforgettable memories that focused around the most wonderful man I have ever known. And…very honestly, we each felt his loving presence all around us.
The very first full day after arriving at our destination we were all sitting together outside. It was an incredible day, sunny, blue skies, clear and quiet…very quiet. Suddenly the sound of an Osprey took our attention upward and toward its landing tower on the adjoining property. I looked at it and appreciated its presence, but immediately thought about Billy wishing it was an American Bald Eagle instead. Billy loved the Eagle. He felt it perfectly represented true American spirit. I remembered how dear it was to him – so much so that while he was stationed at Fort Hood and just prior to his deployment to Vietnam, he chose an Eagle tattoo for his right arm. He told me he had picked the Eagle because of its symbolism to the country he loved so much first and foremost but also as another means of body identification in case something happened to his dog tags while engaged in combat.
Then suddenly, as if it had heard me only moments later and literally out of the blue, a big American Bald Eagle came just in front of us. It circled overhead around and around and around again…seven times quietly soaring without making a sound…its majesty fixed our eyes on its broad wing span. It was chilling. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it, staring and remembering what Billy had shared with me. The tears swelled up as I stared at that incredible bold specimen of strength, power and respect and how it reminded me of my Billy. Salty streams made their way down my face and a sense of calm, peace and comfort came over me. I felt that seeing that Eagle at that very moment was a spiritual kiss – from heaven…from Billy. Somehow I knew without a doubt that he was right there with us…that he knew we were there for him, loving him so very much. I knew his spirit was free and like the Eagle that soared above us, it was free and that all was well…that he was O.K….that he was happy. It was like a message that made me and all of us feel better. It was another blessing from God. The time away was divine…truly divine for a lot of reasons. It helped me get a fresh perspective on the man I loved who loved me…who adored his children, grandchildren, his country, his fellow veteran buddies and his Lord. It helped me consider even more fully this precious thing called ‘life’ and it gave our family and those we hold so dear a special time away from work and daily chores to talk, laugh, cry and pray together as a family. It was a time that helped us heal and grasp more fully the love we have for each other and for the legacy of the strong, brave leader whom we called lover, friend, Daddy and Pop. His beautiful smile, dry sense of humor and undeniable love of country has inspired and motivated us to do good things for others; to love more deeply; to stand up for what’s right and to mean what we say and say what we mean about loving America.
The time away has not dried all of our tears but it has helped. The Eagle was not a coincidence – it was not by chance – that it came on that day – at that special time and place. It came to let us know we are not alone; our prayers are acknowledged; our tears are seen and the whispers of our heart are heard loud and clear to the one they most matter to. I thank God for not only the Eagle but other comforts during that special time away. God is good. Family and friends are forever and love is still and will always be the greatest gift.
You all can do a g-o-o-d thing that will help support our veterans by attending the 4th Annual ISLAND HOLIDAY & CRAFT SHOW, SATURDAY, NOV. 26TH – 10AM to 6PM at the Manteo First Assembly Youth House (across from Manteo Hotline Thrift Store). How? The Outer Banks V.F.W. Post 10950 will provide the food concession and the proceeds will go toward their dedicated efforts to help local veterans. Even if you aren’t a crafter yourself come and enjoy a fun day with awesome crafters and artisans! Come and buy a lunch, snacks or other goodies from the veterans of the V.F.W. Post 10950! Free admission but please bring a non-perishable boxed or canned good to help the local food pantry drive.
And…if you’re a veteran who either permanently resides in Dare County OR if you’re a veteran who doesn’t reside full time in Dare County but you own property in Dare County (either improved or unimproved), please bring your DD-214 showing Honorable discharge (the original DD-214 is not necessary and we don’t keep a copy, its only for review purposes) as well as your Driver’s License and a Dare County tax bill or utility bill and you too can receive your free Dare County Veterans I.D. Card! Yay! Our veterans love the ‘Card’ and it will provide you access to discounts at over 60 businesses on the Outer Banks! With the holidays coming…that’s a GOOD thing! Also, if you’d like to talk to someone about joining the Outer Banks V.F.W. Post 10950 or the American Legion Post 26 – or transferring your membership, it’ll be a perfect time to do that too!
Lastly…it’s Thanksgiving and a time to be just that…THANKFUL! We are a blessed nation to have so many devoted active duty and veterans who have and are serving and sacrificing each and every day for us. Be mindful at your dinner table of those who aren’t at their family’s Thanksgiving feast this week. Pray for our troops and all our service branches.
Until next time…be happy, be safe and be proud. Love each other, forgive those who have hurt you, find ways to celebrate our freedoms, our faith and our pride in being American and love, hug and shake the hand of every veteran you see! I love you all with all of my heart. Thank you for your prayers and God bless you all! Stay tuned.