Gig Line: Something nobody wants to talk about – Part Two

Published 9:31 am Wednesday, May 19, 2021

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Last week in the first of this special three-part column, I wrote about the sensitive topic of a last will and testament. I had wanted to address the subject for some time in Gig Line but there always seemed to be something more pressing, so I delayed, much like many of us who delay taking care of business and making it a priority for the good of the people we love.

As I wrote last week, neither of my parents had a will. In Mama’s case – being only 52 when she found out she was terminal with lung cancer and assuming Daddy would naturally and wholly acquire their properties, bank accounts, etc. and that my sister and I would be welcomed to her clothing, jewelry and personal items – it went without saying. Mama was a beautiful, exceptionally wonderful, loving mother, so I can only assume that was her thinking. Then in Daddy’s case as I wrote last week, he avoided the topic altogether. Somehow it was like he thought if he avoided the subject, the need for it wouldn’t come up. No reason to discuss it was his stance.

Lastly, my sweet Billy and I made provisions to have our will executed addressing at the time that our two children were still minors, allowing for our best friend to oversee our wishes if we passed simultaneously. Later though, once Bill and Bonnie were of legal age, we asked our attorney to revise the will and update the status of our home and other real estate holdings, stock, vehicles and other personal property. We then obtained a safety deposit box at our bank, notified our children that the will was updated, setting the provisions to provide for equal distribution/disbursement of our assets when that time came. We wanted to protect them as loving parents even after we were no longer here. Even though they were grown with families of their own, we wanted to ensure less stress and fairness to both of them.

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Years later, in 2015 when we were vacationing in Florida, out of the blue with no provocation and while Billy was driving from the west coast to my brother and sister-in-law’s home in West Palm Beach, suddenly, he turned to me and said, “Marsha, I want to be cremated.” I was shocked and at first, so taken aback at what he said, I just sat there. At that time, Billy had diabetes II, determined because of his exposure to Agent Orange, and he took thyroid and BP meds, but there were no drastic health concerns that we knew of, so why then? Why would he even bring cremation up? After sitting there for a minute, I said, “Babe, I’m kinda speechless and surprised you’d bring that up especially now when we’re having such a nice time and everything’s good.” He said, “I just want you to know.” I told him if that were the case and he went before me, I would see to it his wishes were honored and wherever he wanted his ashes to be placed, I wanted mine to be also. He smiled and squeezed my hand and that was the last time we discussed it – ever.

That was in November and only three months later, out of the blue, we came to realize that Billy – the one and only true love of my life – was diagnosed with terminal glioblastoma multiforme IV (brain cancer). Now, I understood. God inspired Billy to tell me so there was no question of his choice for end-of-life matters. God knew what was coming. God wanted me to have the peace and knowledge of Billy’s wishes. God knew.

Billy wanted to prepare for the inevitable and asked to meet with our attorney (someone who had guided us though almost everything throughout our married life and whom we both considered dear to our hearts) to prepare the living will as Billy wished. Naturally, his desire was to live if possible, to see another day, to have weeks, months and years to hug his precious children and grandchildren and to go to bed and wake up again beside me and to see the joy in my face just being his wife, but not to be placed on life support if the absolute determination (without question) of the medical team was it would prolong his suffering.

As for me, how do you let go of someone you love so much? How do you? I felt I would be “giving up” on the breath of someone who gave me such happiness close to 50 years. I had a hard time with that. I knew of people who had struggled with dire circumstances when hope was all but gone who bounced back miraculously. How could I support not fighting to the very last second to keep Billy, my precious husband, lover and best friend alive? At the same time, my love and respect for this incredible man was equal and it wasn’t about me – it was about his wishes for his health, his body and his transition to God’s Heaven.

Throughout our lives together, we had always made significant decisions together, talking things through, addressing the pros and cons which resulted in mutual agreement, peace and unity. In this case though, I was reluctant to emotionally let go of my “Sweetie Pie” Billy’s hand.

You see, when we first married on July 5, 1968, Billy had just come home from Vietnam in March. I was 17, he was 21. We weren’t pregnant, just crazy about each other. Through a terrible traffic accident and an unexpected tragedy of my best friend’s death, Billy sought me out and within only seven weeks, we were married. But – fast forward – at this time in our life, we were facing permanent separation until God could bring us together again on His Golden Shores.

In the third and final segment on this Gig Line topic, next week I will address the finality, the last of the four months since diagnosis and his deliverance. But, I want you all to know that this is not to bring up sadness. It is fact, it is real, it has forever changed my life, but “it is what it is” and my goal is to tell you that I’m glad if you have made provisions for your spouse to know what you want, that you make sure as a veteran that your family has access to your DD-214 and to your heart’s desire for your celebration of life. This Gig Line is entitled “Something nobody wants to talk about” to encourage you to savor that life is precious. The length of it, however, is uncertain and decisions now that could help avoid the quandary of a loving spouse or children being left to decipher, argue over (sorry, but it happens) and stress over while dealing with the loss of a loved one is unnecessary. My hope is that if you haven’t already, you think about it, then act on it.

Until next time, I pray for your happiness, good health and safety and that you will find the joy in life no matter the struggles or heartache life sometimes brings. The sun still shines, the flowers still bloom and there is always joy in the morning. Even if you must look for it, it’s there. For veteran help, please call me at 252-202-2058 or email me at or contact a very special lady who works every day helping veterans – Patty O’Sullivan, Dare County Veteran Service Officer, at her office number: 252-475-5604 or email: God bless each one of you and those you love and don’t forget – I love you too! Stay tuned!