Gig Line: We get by with a little help from our friends

Published 1:23 pm Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Life is so different when you lose your spouse. It is so much more than the absence of a physical body; it’s your best friend, your daily sounding board, your confidant, the person your look up to, admire, appreciate, the one who teases you about your cooking or praises the accomplishments you have made at your workplace. He or she prays with you for your children’s good health, safety and happiness, stands with you holding hands on the dock waiting for your son to arrive after a weather delay off shore. They are the one that looks after you when you’re sick and vice versa. They are the ones you hope to grow as old as time with and that you look forward to seeing in Heaven one day, depending on who departs this world first.

If you were blessed knowing from the start that he or she was exactly who was meant to be at your side through life, you thank the good Lord in your morning or nightly prayers. You learn from that person you love, that you share their name with, made your  babies with, realized your ups and downs and inside outs with for as long as you could … you remember the special days of watching him walk your “baby girl” daughter down the aisle to marry her true love and you talk with them about faith, respect, kindness and genuine commitment to their significant other even when the waters are rough, the bills are high and the money is low but you encourage her never to give up on each other if at all possible.

If you’re the widow, you take on the responsibilities of getting the vehicles inspected, making sure your pets are bathed, taken to the vet for appointments and cared for like he always did. You acquire estimates for repairs on the house, take the trash out to the street twice a week (unless you have a kind neighbor who does it for you); you hire pool techs, lawn care and a mighty host of other people to do the things he always enjoyed doing – after all, he was an outdoorsy kind of guy and because he was a gentleman who felt it was his responsibility. You miss seeing him on his riding mower wearing his favorite hat and you hold your breath that the mower won’t tip over in the ditch … then you see it never does because he knows what he’s doing. You remember all the times you had a problem with your computer and he was always there to fix it or help you understand the reason it simply froze up. You miss the handful of red roses he would break off the bush he had planted and groomed and just before he handed the ones he had picked for you, he would use his pocket knife to skim the thorns off that might hurt your fingers then get a vase to put them in and set them beside your chair. You had a man who is “all man” – strong, smart, handsome, a hard worker, a good provider, nothing short of a saint and you welcome every minute you get to spend with him. You cherish the memories of him singing in church when it was the most beautiful songs you ever heard, you liked that God was important in his life and that he thanked God many times that you were his wife.

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If you’re a widower, you learn just how strong that woman at your side really was … through childbirth, working two jobs if needed to help pay the bills, caring and nurturing your children and grandchildren. And you, too … you think about her company for coffee in the early hours or the late night talk you shared about events of the day, what was great and what might not have been. You watched her pack for a trip you’re going to take to a favorite destination when she was careful not to forget anything … and of course she always overpacked, it was just her thing. And her cooking might have been the best in the land and if it wasn’t perfect, you loved it anyway because she made it for you. You find it a loss before Christmas time when the decorations are still in boxes and you miss her homemade potpourri concoction that made the house smell so good. You stare at the ribbons, lights and ornaments and wonder why it still makes sense to even put a tree up at all without her being there to giggle and grin happy to see it all done. You miss her.

Love between a couple is different for all of us in some ways and women are cable of fixing some things and asking for help when she can’t; men are cable to cook and wash/dry clothes and even sew on a button if needed. Widows and widowers are talented and capable and now that they are gone, gears have shifted. It’s life.

The weekly Grief Share Ministry is an afternoon class each Wednesday from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Peggy Snead is the organizer, and she is devoted to helping widows, widowers, siblings, friends, parents, children and anybody who could use some support adjusting to the loss of a loved one. As I have said before, it is a gathering of men and women who are grieving. There is no charge for the 13-week class which started on January 10 to end on April 3, 2024, unless you choose to buy the optional workbook for $15. You don’t have to talk about your loss; you don’t have to state your name. Peggy’s gathering is casual, friendly and comforting and it helps in the grieving process. I know and being there with others going through the same heartache helps you cope. You can attend and sit there without saying one word, but having attended Peggy’s classes myself, I highly recommend it. Lastly, don’t worry if you have missed the first few classes. In fact, at any time you would like to join in, do so. You won’t feel behind or disruptive. Each week topics we can relate to are discussed and what you will feel is welcome! Location? Mount Olivet United Methodist Church, 300 Ananias Dare St., in downtown Manteo. It would be a help for you to contact the church office at 252-473-2089 in advance so they can let Peggy know to expect you and whether you would like the optional workbook or not.

Speaking of widows and widowers, would any of you have any interest (in addition to Peggy’s class) to attend another casual get together, maybe once a month? The reason I ask is because as a widow myself, I feel for others who have experienced the loss of their other half … the one you share your hopes and dreams with … the one you miss every single day, no matter how long it has been … the one who you were comforted, protected and loved by … the one who rocked your world. If you are interested, please contact me as the idea is being discussed. Each month different speakers would join us with interesting, enlightening and helpful ways to spend our time and perhaps we could be of help to each other. If you are interested, please let me know.

“Hello … hello … can you hear me?” If you don’t or can’t, it’s probably for good reason! The ability to hear well is clearly a blessing and as we age, we sometimes experience it has diminished – it’s life. But if you are a veteran and you have worked around loud noises over the course of your military service, your hearing loss could be a result of that exposure. Over the course of the last 11 years, I have personally heard many veterans say they suffer from tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Perhaps you have already investigated the possibility that your hearing difficulty is service connected. If not, please take the time to find out if it is or not.

Days ago, I spoke with our Dare County veteran service officer Patty O’Sullivan who told me that she had seen the Blue Water Navy Facebook post regarding a change that will take place in April 2024. In essence, the V.A. rating codes are changing for tinnitus. She explained that right now it is a standalone service-connected disability. That being said, “starting in April they are going to rate it in conjunction with hearing loss.”

Of course you may have already connected and addressed the issue with Patty at her office: 252-475-5604 or via her cell: 252-473-7749 or email: patricia.o’sullivan@darenc.gov. If you haven’t and feel it might be of benefit to determine the cause or the possibility of acquiring hearing aids, please contact her at one of the numbers I just provided prior to April this year.

Patty shared that “Veterans currently receiving a 10% rating for Tinnitus will be ‘grandfathered in’ under the old system, meaning their ratings will not change. However, for Veterans who have not yet received a rating for Tinnitus, the new rules could mean they will not be able to get a separate compensable rating for Tinnitus in the future.” The information she shared continued, “If you have Tinnitus but haven’t filed a claim, doing so before the changes take effect could be crucial.”

Also, if you read my column last week about the inquiry Patty received from a representative of the Greenville Vet Center regarding the possibility that scheduled counseling for veterans could take place in Dare County (possibly on a “one on one” or group basis), it’s important to contact Patty and let her know you might be interested. When they reached out to her, it was to inquire and generate interest and hopefully encourage our veteran community about the potential opportunity. Just a reminder to our veterans to reach out to Patty and express your interest if you have any.

Until next time be healthy, safe and happy. Think about the topics I have addressed in this Gig Line and consider who you might know that could use some help … grief counseling, hearing aids or P.T.S.D. counseling. If you could recommend sources of help for family and friends, you would, wouldn’t you? Thank you for reading my column and if you have a comment to share with me, I welcome it. You can reach me by cell/text at 252-202-2058 or by email at giglineheroes@aol.com.

In closing, just know that I appreciate you all. God bless you and your families. He loves you and so do I. Stay tuned!

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