By Marsha M. Brown
In this writing of ‘Gig Line’ I think of my ‘sweetie pie’ (husband) Billy whose birthday is November 1st and he would have been 72 years old. I think of him every day but even more so remembering all our birthdays celebrated together and how my heart is still very broken.
Life goes on, they say…and yes, it does; times passes us by but in many ways the hands on the clock never make its way past the last days, hours and minutes we’ve spent with the person we loved so much who is no longer here.
It’s not just my, thoughts about missing him…his smile, his laughter, his dry sense of humor, his unbelievable strength both physically and emotionally…its everything about him…just like for other spouses of husbands, fathers, sons and brothers who have left this world for the everlasting.
Veteran’s Day a beautiful day and its fast approaching which conjures up remembrances of the men and women who have served our great, great nation having donned the beautiful military uniforms of our United States of America. This very special national holiday is always on November 11th, this year being Sunday, though many business and government institutions will close on Monday, November 12 in observance of the official day to honor our veterans.
Like myself, many of the veteran widows I see from time to time will also think about their men in uniform no matter how long they served, in what branch or where they served – stateside or in combat in a foreign land.
The stars and stripes of red, white and blue are colors that remind us every single day of our heroic, dedicated American men (and women) who have loved this country, saluted our flag with pride and who have rarely ever bent a knee unless in prayer or care of a fallen comrade. Our military men and women reign superior…they just do. Without exception, they are due our unwavering honor, allegiance and respect.
Today as I sit facing our dining room, my eyes are fixed on a vase of deep, red (almost burgundy) tulips. They’re exact replicas of the arrangement beside Billy’s urn at our church during his memorial service…they were Billy’s favorite flower; when I walk outside I see two bright red roses peeking above the railing at the end of our front deck and I remember how he’d pick them each fall, bring them in to me and say, “I got you some flowers babe, I love you” and smile. Dear Lord, I loved and love him so much. I am hopelessly in love with my veteran…my hero and though it’s been two years and three months now, I celebrate my ‘sweetie pie’ Billy’s birthday.
I remember how proud he was of our children and grandchildren; of our local veteran organizations especially, the Outer Banks V.F.W. Post 10950 and its quick and enthusiastic growth; its good work; its loyal and many devoted members…Billy loved them all. He was proud to be a part of them and vice versa as well as our American Legion Post 26 too.
When I attended an event with Billy, I’d look at his sweet face and how tight his relationship was with fellow ‘brothers’. I loved how it made him happy to be deeply involved with such a great organization of fellow heroes and comrades and the unmistakable bond they shared; I enjoyed seeing them all tease each other about ‘their’ branch of service and how it outranked the others in one way or another; it touched my heart to hear the good work they were all doing for veterans in our communities with ‘hands on’ projects, communication and follow-up. I am so fortunate to have loved and been loved by my Billy Brown; so grateful that his love of country, his brothers and sisters, our flag, our Constitution – inspired me and our children to feel what we feel today. I remember how his affection for our military brought tears to his eyes when he saw a parade and heard the band play patriotic songs and when he watched a documentary on TV about WWII or a movie about Vietnam.
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Billy…my handsome, U. S. Army veteran wasn’t always gooey sweet though…not when he heard news accounts about traitors to our country and/or to our military; when he knew of anyone who hurt a veteran; or who ridiculed a person with disabilities or if a deviant hurt children…Billy in those cases was a bear and all I could say about that was “Bar the door Katie!”
We all love our spouses and those of us who are members of this ‘widows club’ just ‘keep on keeping on’…missing them, remembering them and still loving them each day no matter what else takes place in our lives. We’ll be okay though, because no amount of grief is going to change things as they are and those of us who have that deep, true faith believe without question that we’ll see them again someday with our Father in Heaven, happy and healthy.
My best friend ‘Bibber’ reminded me the other day about something Billy did just days before he passed. When she did, tears fell in rows down my cheek, then I smiled because the remembrance she referred to gave me comfort. Billy was laying in his hospital bed here at home in our dining room one evening and not having talked a whole lot for some time and finding it more difficult to swallow…suddenly, his eyes opened and obviously alert, he reached up his arm almost fully extended, and he started shaking hands with…angels? fellow veterans in Heaven? Was it Jesus? Billy was smiling and he was happy and he seemed to be greeting folks he hadn’t seen in a l-o-n-g time…or was he being greeted by them?…were they saying, “Come on Billy, we’ve got a lot to tell you!”…or was it because he could see that his old Army buddies’ bodies were restored? It wasn’t just one but several extended handshakes as if they were standing side by side excited to see him too! It was the happiest I had seen him since his terminal diagnosis and so much so that he broke out into laughter. I knew…I just knew that Billy saw something very spiritual and the joy on his face was testament to the fact that he would be alright; that his day was nearing to go home with those Heavenly ‘greeters’ – family, friends and his brothers and sisters waiting on the other side. And…just in case you’re thinking, it must have been the meds he was on…think again…he wasn’t on any. The Glioblastoma brain cancer he had gave him little to no pain weeks before he passed; he wasn’t on morphine patches, IV ‘s or oral medications. I believe with all my heart having witnessed this miracle first hand that Billy even as a Christian for as long as I had known him actually ‘saw the light’! He was calm, smiling huge grins and he was happy no doubt to see those he had loved and lost.
To our veterans, I thank you for the joy you brought into Billy’s life…for the brotherly love you showed him, our son Bill, our daughter Bonnie and our whole family those four months. Thank you, Manteo First Assembly family, members of the V.F.W. and the American Legion for being here for Billy and for us…for bringing another new American flag that he could see from his hospital bed, for bringing food, love offerings and for reading to him at his bedside. I love you all so much and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Thank you.
Veteran’s Day is a day to love our vets, to thank them for the love they show us and our country, for their sacrifice and their willingness to put themselves on the line…for us. God bless our vets and those of you who help them whenever you can; who show them the respect and appreciation they have earned and deserve but don’t always receive. On their behalf, I thank you.
To veterans who are out and about on Sunday, November 11th especially, remember that some businesses i.e. restaurants & grocery stores offer special considerations/discounts (excluding alcoholic beverages & tobacco) even if they don’t advertise or promote it. Just let the eateries you frequent know that you’re a veteran – just in case.
To the men and women who read this GIG LINE, please, please go out and vote. Don’t assume your candidate will win; don’t think your one simple vote won’t matter…vote with your heart but mostly with your head…we have the privilege to vote – to privately support the man or woman we feel best fits our hope for the future. Be mindful that our veteran men and women have toiled in the fields, deserts and jungles over many years to maintain our rights to mindfully, respectfully express our hopes, dreams and belief in our country and give our elected officials the chance to see good things come to pass through our vote. If you don’t take the time to do it, please don’t complain after the fact. Time is ticking down, we’re almost there – exercise your American right and support those who you believe in…for all our sake.
Until next time, be happy, be safe and be proud of yourselves as a veteran and if you help and support our veterans. Look for Poppy flower donation booths over this next week. You’d be surprised to know all the good that our local veteran organizations have done to help our veterans right here in Dare County. If you know of a veteran who needs help, please contact either myself (Marsha) cell: (252) 202- 2058/email: email@example.com or refer them to Patty O’Sullivan, Dare County Veteran Service Officer: (252) 475-5604 who is in the know of what help and options are available to you and your family. God bless you all and stay tuned!