By Marsha M. Brown
Years ago, after our son and daughter were grown and on their own, we moved from Manteo to Salvo where we resided for about 11 years. At that time, I was the Property Manager for Sun Realty – Salvo office (ten years) and my sweet Billy was with Dare County Public Works later transferring to the brand new RWS Water Plant named later as the Joseph ‘Mac’ Midgett Reverse Osmosis Water Plant. He had started there on the ground level inside the plant with no certifications under his belt in the beginning, however in short order, he acquired his first, then second and then his third license enabling him to qualify for the position he was offered as Water Plant Superintendent. He enjoyed his work; he was proud of the plant itself, his fellow operators and staff and he appreciated frequent opportunities to answer questions of visitors and locals too about the actual process of water desalination.
Billy seized opportunities aside from his daily responsibilities to answer questions about the state-of-the-art system to visitors and locals alike explaining how trustworthy, safe, dependable, and tasteful the water they produced actually was, then September 11th happened, and plant tours ceased immediately, and a gate was installed at both the entrance and exit driveways for precaution and safety of the plant. If you remember, no one knew what to expect after that horrible September day.
As the weeks passed and with Christmas coming soon, Billy being a member of the Salvo Volunteer Fire Department was asked to play Santa Claus for the tri-village events and the Community Christmas Dinner, etc. Billy was a big, sweet man with incredible strength having lifted weights much of his life. He had to think about it for a bit but decided after considerable coaxing to play the role. One evening Billy was loaned the new fire department Santa suit, mustache/beard, belt, hat, and white gloves. The outfit was first class – made out of a deep red and snowy white fluffy fabric that could not have been more perfect!
The next morning in the wee hours of 3:30 AM and still pitch dark outside, Billy got up to allow enough time to try the full suit on before leaving for work. I was used to getting up with him and fixing breakfast but being so early and in my slumber only the light from the bathroom found its way into our bedroom when I suddenly heard a deep voice…” Marsha…Marsha, Ho, Ho…Hooooo!” Oh, my goodness…my eyes opened to a beautiful sight…it was Santa! I could not believe it! I was emersed…and I swear to you, it was magical! This big handsome Santa stood beside our bed looking at me and it was as if stardust sprinkled down from the ceiling and all around both of us. I sat up and stared at him much like a child amazed at what I witnessed. There were no cookies nor cold milk set out for him…no roaring fireplace with mounds of gifts set at the base of the tree…after all, I went to bed with my Billy but woke up with Santa! It was a moment I will never, ever forget. I stared at him…he WAS Jolly St. Nick…he was the very epitome of children’s hopes and dreams…and this big kid (me) was taken in…wrapped up in the happiness of it all!
Once I stopped starring at him in pure amazement, I gleefully told him how beautiful a man…the Santa…that he was. He stared at me too…probably thinking I had lost it, then he smiled and winked at me. I kissed his sweet lips under that fluffy white mustache…I kissed and kissed him…dear, how I loved him! I was so proud that he had agreed to do this for the village children and for the Fire Department too. Except for me being in my nightgown and in our bed…I wish you all could have been there to see him that morning too! It was wonderful!
We talked for a few minutes then he took his shower while I fixed his breakfast…and he could not get over how tickled I was, and I could not get over that I was so blessed to see another incredible side of my great blessing…my husband…who had a kind, gentle heart, and love for everybody. From his days as the first unofficially titled Dare County EMS Director who organized and managed the ambulance service through the Dare County Sheriff’s Office, as Deputy Sheriff, as Water Plant Superintendent having won the first Best Tasting Drinking Water in North Carolina…he was still at it; entrenched in wanting to help people, make their life safer, better, and happier. Dear Lord, I miss him so.
The events that followed that early morning reveal brought forth rides on or in the fire truck… lots of waves; candy gently tossed to the kids standing anxiously with their parents and grandparents near Hwy. 12 between Rodanthe to Salvo; babies, toddlers and older kids too sitting on his lap and hearing in his deep, jolly, and very Santa voice, “Ho, Ho Hooooo!” Billy…my magical Santa brought countless smiles and laughter to all ages in the tri-village and they loved him.
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Then one night at home following one of the community events we had attended, he hung his special suit up in the closet and we sat down to talk. He had a serious look in his eye that night…a sad look…so I asked him what was wrong. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “You know how the kids always tell Santa what they want for Christmas? Well, today, an older lady got in line and asked me if she could sit in my lap and tell me her wish, so I said sure. Then, she whispered in my ear that she had cancer and told me her wish was to get better and to be okay. I didn’t know what to say at first…then I told her I would pray for her.” At that point, the tears fell onto his cheek and I knew he was hoping especially that her Christmas wish above all would come true. I knew without a doubt that he too wanted her to be okay and I knew this Santa would deliver sincere prayers for her healing.
This Christmas my wish is for all of you to first…remember the ‘reason for the season’ and that after you acknowledge that within your heart, that you happily embrace the holiday spirit too. God gave us his only Son…He gave us life…He gave us the opportunity for forgiveness…no matter what we have done in our lives or what mistakes we have made…and most of all, He gave us love. That love is priceless, it can lift folks up to a higher plain, it can mend hearts, it can reunite loved ones, it can bring joy and peace and comfort in the darkest hour.
We have all been through a lot this year…we have felt the pangs of an unseen but deadly virus…we have witnessed and experienced worry, heartache, struggles and despair but we have also seen greatness in our country…accomplishments never expected and too often criticized, disbelieved, or often refuted. Christmas is a wonderful time to remember that ‘giving’ is the basis of this special and precious holy season…that His gift came with no price tag attached…nor with designer wrapping paper and time together may have been limited but thanks to the vaccines circulating now…and the deliberate determination to make them available to our nation way sooner than ever imagined…this dastardly monster will hopefully soon be eradicated once and for all!
I am a simple person who loves the Lord, who cannot tell you what to do with your life, or how you should live it…I can only tell you that one of the first things I learned as a writer was to “write what you know” and that is what I am doing. I am not politically correct…nor apologetic for my faith and frankly there is no doubt in my mind or my heart that God has a purpose for my life just as He does for yours, only that I hope in some way, I can fulfill His hope for me. I am not a Bible scholar by any stretch, but I can pray…lift the broken hearted, the lonely…the sick or dying…the widows and widowers…I can pray for good doctors, medicine, and comfort…for our troops near and far…for our missionaries…for government officials and all who can make a difference to sow peace in our nation and around the world…I can pray for our youth and for the teachers who will influence them. In all sincerity having lost both of my parents early in life…a home we loved in a fire…another home to a foreclosure…lost my husband four years ago that I love so much every day…have had cancer…but still in all…I have more love for God in my heart, for our children and grandchildren, for family and friends than I have ever had and…for you too. And friends…I pray for a very Merry Christmas to all of you and those you love. God bless you all.
My best friend shared a notation her sister had written in her Bible…”When you are swept off your feet…fall on your knees.” If you wish to call me: (252) 202-2058 or write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org If you are a vet, thank you for your service and sacrifice. I love and appreciate you from the bottom of my heart. Until next time…stay healthy, safe, and happy and by all means…stay tuned.