Gig Line: Like a giant wave

Published 8:36 am Monday, April 10, 2023

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Well, remember me writing a while back about how much better I had been doing trying to adjust to my life without my husband, Billy? Remember I wrote that one day after our children convinced me it was about the happy loving memories I should concentrate on, not the sadness of losing him. Both of our kids were right. Until then, it hadn’t occurred to me that seeing me sad was probably making it harder for them. They each had a positive impact on me, and I’m deeply thankful for their love and support. How they encouraged me to be happy, even in his absence finally sunk in. The resurgence of the blessing of each other, the precious memories, and the deep love we shared jolted me to pull my big girl’s britches up and stop the never-ending tears. It’s a painful but obvious fact … the one true love in my life is never coming back. We rarely had an argument, held hands whenever we rode out together, spent close to 50 years every day and night side by side – it was a gift, an absolute priceless treasure. Overall, I’ve done so much better determined to make happiness overrule the heartbreak, then …

Yesterday when I first arrived at the Administration Building and prior to the start of our monthly Dare County Veterans Advisory Council meeting, I had an appointment to meet with Benny Baldwin of Baldwin Video Productions. I knew Benny and I thought I had it all together … I knew what I wanted to say about my enthusiasm about The Wall That Heals coming to Dare County this coming November.

I planned to convey my absolute joy that our council had achieved the goal we had had to invite and host The Wall That Heals; that I knew it would mean a lot to our Vietnam veterans, to their family and friends and that it would be an absolutely humongous event on the Outer Banks … but when I sat down, the memories flooded in and washed over me like a giant wave.

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I remembered when our council was first established by our county commissioners on May 7, 2012, when we were present at their meeting to hear the commissioners read the names of the first group of seven to serve on the council and how it was nothing short of a monumental day in Dare County’s history.

Sitting there downstairs in Room 168, I envisioned the first day we issued the Dare County Veterans I.D. Card (later renamed the Dare County Veteran Discount Card) to veterans who had lined up to come in, show their required docs and receive their card. They liked the opportunity for discounts on goods and services from one end of the Outer Banks to the other, but some expressed their appreciation in just getting something other than their DD-214 to show they were a veteran. You see, our council created the idea of the card to help draw veterans to us so we could acknowledge them, honor them, help refer them to sources of help and most definitely encourage them to talk to our veteran service officer. It was a given they could investigate the possibility of filing a V.A. claim, learn potential V.A. benefits and even potential disability compensation for a service-connected illness or condition. Our goal was achieved and many veterans came in, acquired their card and realized that business owners from Corolla to Hatteras village appreciated them and wanted to say “thank you” for their service and sacrifice.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was as if I was sitting there watching a video replay of history – history that changed or helped to change the lives of our incredible and deserving veterans and their families.

I already knew Benny, who was filming the brief segment. He is a true professional in every sense of the word. He worked with Dorothy Hester, Dare County public information officer, on the original production and promotion of the council when it was newly established, its workings and goals; how it was providing sources of help for our veterans; about the free card we had created; about our local veteran organizations and so much more. Together they had a Dare County infomercial basically that was beautifully done and their very successful collaboration made a major impact, not only within our county but influenced neighboring counties as well. And my sweet Billy was one of those featured who gave a heartfelt message about the card, inviting fellow veterans to get theirs. It was like I could see it all unfold all around me all over again.

As much as I didn’t want to choke up and had been doing so well, I envisioned images of times past in that same room where it all started. In my mind’s eye I could see my Billy, so happy about the council with his big, beautiful smile beaming and buzzing around welcoming fellow veterans who had come in the door to get their card in that video. He was proud, so proud of our Board of Commissioners, of our council, of his “brothers and sisters” and I just couldn’t help it – I choked up again and again. Tears started to roll down my cheek and as hard as I tried, I could hardly speak (and you know me, I’m a talker!). I wondered if I would look like a racoon with mascara streaks. It was emotional reliving the past – a happy past – but the past just the same when it all began.

I apologized to Benny, who patiently waited in between my tears to film information he thought might further entice people to visit The Wall That Heals. He was kind and understanding and genuine. Benny had not only videoed that initial council introduction back in 2012 but his company had videotaped a play at Manteo First Assembly about veterans that Billy and I had written; at the barbecue picnic fundraiser held in Billy’s honor after he was diagnosed with brain cancer; then again at the celebration of Billy’s life service after he had passed.

In essence, I had a hard time Tuesday and while public speaking has never been a problem for me, it was then in that simple wooden chair talking only to Benny. In fact, I can’t help but wonder how anything I said would be worthy to add into the promotion, but if by some miracle there is, I will thank the good Lord and Benny for it!

Wouldn’t it be nice if all the special moments in our lives were on video? Not just for a wedding or a Christening or an anniversary party, but all the happy times throughout our lives? Our memories do that, you know – give us reruns but only as long as our minds allow it.

Next week I will write about the “In Memory” program that I hope you all will read about. Patty O’Sullivan, who does an outstanding job as our veteran service officer and who is the director of our committee for The Wall That Heals endeavor, has provided very important information along with other veteran-related news that I will share. If you think your medical problems are or could be a result of your military service, please contact her office at 252-475-5604, her work cell at 252-473-7749 or her email at patricia.o’ I can tell you first-hand that she’s extremely busy, but never too busy for you. Think about it if you haven’t already because meeting and talking with Patty about your service and medical issues could make a big difference in your life!

Until next time, be healthy, safe and happy! Thank you for reading my long-winded Gig Line and for your service to our country. If you’re not a veteran but you love one or many, thank you too! Love is free, folks, and so is pride in our beautiful red, white and blue. Show it off any chance you can at home or at the workplace. We are Americans and that’s a blessing! Pray for our troops, near and far, and know in your heart that God loves you more than you can ever imagine – and I do too! My cell is 252-202-2058, my email is and the website for Gig Lines galore is Stay tuned!