Gig Line: Adjustments underway

Published 2:57 pm Thursday, February 15, 2024

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As I have said before, when I sit down to write this column, I pray about it and ask the Lord to guide my thoughts and help me put on paper what might bless those who read it.

Last week I wrote about the topic of grief for the loss of a wife or a husband or someone else we love very much. But even through that life changing adjustment, life is still good and blessings still abound each and every day. We can still appreciate and cherish the good, happy and incredible times we shared with the beautiful people God put into our lives. Miss them? Do birds fly? Of course … we will for as long as breath is in us … but there comes a time when we must embrace the blessing they were to us in our lives and keep moving forward. We just have to.

After 11 years of serving on the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council as secretary/council member, I tendered my resignation effective December 31, 2023. I resigned after considerable thought and prayer because it was a good time to pass the baton on to another person who would hopefully be as proud as I was. I enjoyed every minute I served on our council … one of the most effective appointments for membership designated by our Dare County Board of Commissioners. And when The Wall That Heals came to Dare County – it was a culmination of all good things our council had done for our veterans … together. Thank you, Patty, who directed the event, council members and The Wall That Heals Committee members and volunteers here and in neighboring counties … that includes our Tyrrell County/Columbia folks! God bless you all!

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I will continue this column that started it all back in 2012; assist in a volunteer capacity for the council in veteran related matters; reach out to the servicemembers who have served our great nation and their families, and I will continue to issue the free Dare County Veteran Discount Card to veterans who are local residents and/or absentee property owners in Dare County. Nothing has changed beyond that other than the fact I will continue to write about our precious veterans, active duty, reserve and all who retired our U.S. Armed Forces having served no matter their time in. They, (YOU) are all important, so important to me!

Also, it is my desire to write more often about our women veterans who have served in whatever field of expertise they were assigned to or chose, never once forgetting about them. Because I have had more interaction with male veterans based on the greater number of men at meetings, when they request and I issue the discount cards, and at ceremonies and events, etc.

Back in the late 1970s I had the privilege of knowing and befriending an incredible woman who had served in our U.S. Army as a nurse in Vietnam. I met her when I (and two friends) enrolled to take a 240 hr. nurse’s assistant class offered by Beaufort Technical Institute. Our instructor was Geraldine (Gibbs) Lucas, and we all loved her dearly. The classroom instruction took place twice a week at the Davis School in Engelhard, N.C. and the clinical hours were held at the hospital in Belhaven, N.C., which is now renamed after all these years.

Geraldine and I became instant friends along with my friends Colleen Hooper (Hines) Myers and Ada Hadley. At that time there was no classes at Peak (Britthaven) Resources Outer Banks, nor Spring Arbor of Outer Banks, nor Outer Banks Hospital. And the only way to attend a nurse’s aide or similar certification was to attend a class at the College of The Albemarle in Elizabeth City but the schedule there was not conducive to our work schedules as the one west of us. So, the three of us rode from Manteo to each classroom and clinical hour schedule at the hospital. It was a trip spending time together, calling out questions and reviewing for tests en route to class and we enjoyed not only a friendship between ourselves but the interest we shared in acquiring a health care certification which was the motivator that brought us together.

Geraldine was tough. She was serious about her classroom instruction, the tests she administered to us and the patients she assigned us to at the hospital on clinical days. Once I learned early on that she was a Vietnam veteran (nurse) it heightened my already established respect for her and I soon learned too that she, much like my husband Billy, did not want to elaborate on her service in Southeast Asia. In fact, she only mentioned it one time and as time went by, she had an opportunity to meet Billy and they became instant friends … but still no discussion before, between or after about their “boots on ground” experience in Vietnam. They knew. They did not have to talk about it, they did not have to say a word, they just knew. Each felt it, and each chose not to elaborate.

When we had a clinical schedule, Geraldine would dish out our patient room numbers and brief us on the patients we were assigned to and general condition or the reason they were there, review with us on what we were NOT to do while attending to their needs and then we were on our own. She wanted us to learn for ourselves, interact with the patient and help them as best we could within the parameters of our ability.

One day, I was assigned to a lady who had suffered a profoundly serious accidental wound at her home. The lady was hurt, of course, mad as heck at the world and no doubt bitter about the incident and the situation it had put her in. The first meeting with her was a little uncomfortable in that she wanted to run everyone out and away that even came close to her but while I respected her wishes, I made up my mind I wasn’t going to let her. I felt she needed a friend, not someone who loved her by nature and grieved with her but rather a stranger, I guess. After several trips over there and being her “nurse” for the day, we had become friends. Her guarded demeanor had deflated and the last time I saw her I hugged her goodbye. She liked me and vice versa. She was hurting, sad and miserable and her injury had caused a disability she would have to live with for the rest of her life … and it was hard to see her go through that, but she was alive and she would heal. Still a lot to appreciate.

When our whole class of students left that last day of the clinical hour requirements, Gerri talked to us about how our assignment ended overall and then she told me privately she had given me some of the hardest cases. When I asked her why, she smiled and said, “Because I knew you could handle ’em!” She was such an inspiration and once our class graduated and we received our nurse’s assistant pins, we remained friends for 40 years.

She would call and inquire about how Billy and I and our kids were doing and then about real estate on the Outer Banks. In turn, I would call her always hearing first about her daughter, the person who meant more to her than anyone else in her life, her love of cross stich and then unfortunately that she was suffering additional effects of her exposure to Agent Orange. I wish I had seen her more often. She was a treasure, a hero, a devoted mother and unforgettable friend. She lived through the horrors of the Vietnam War working to save, patch up and heal the soldiers presented before her. She passed into Heaven in 2021 and it broke my heart.

Veterans’ stories are important, so particularly important, and I want to learn as many of them to write about as I can. I want to celebrate them and honor them (you) because your story is worthy of being told … IF you’re up for it. Often, we don’t even know a neighbor or someone we work with was even a veteran until we read their obituary and that is SAD.

I hope to see Geraldine’s beautiful daughter one day before long because I haven’t seen her since she was a little girl. I want to brag on her mama and tell her how awesome I think she was and how she touched the lives of all of us around her in an incredibly special way. I want to learn from her and celebrate her mama hero … a brave woman who served our country in the hardest of times.

If you who are reading this Gig Line are a member of the V.F.W. away from Dare County, at your previous hometown post, please know that we also have an outstanding Outer Banks V.F.W. Post 10950 right here that meets in Colington. If you are interested in visiting with our awesome members here, or perhaps consider transferring your V.F.W. membership to our local post, you would be welcomed with open arms! They are inviting eligible veterans of all ages to join them … their fold is there for you. The members are such great men and women, and you could not help but feel happy being a part of their group. They do wonderful things for our local veterans and beyond too! If you are interested, please contact Rick at 252-305-6681.

If you are a veteran interested in acquiring the Dare County Veteran Discount Card, you only need your DD-214 showing honorable discharge and a driver’s license or other document (preferably a Dare County tax bill or local utility bill in your name). The process takes all of 10 minutes and it would entitle you to over a hundred businesses who wish to honor you for your service and sacrifice. I can issue it to you if you would like, so please call/text my cell at 252-202-2058 or email me at

Also, if you have questions about a potential V.A. claim, spousal benefits, health care, etc., please contact Patty O’Sullivan, Dare County veteran service officer, office: 252-475-5604, cell phone: 252-473-7749 or by email: patricia.o’ Patty is the only official liaison between you and the V.A. in Dare County and she does an outstanding job representing our veterans. Please do not delay … give her a call!

Until next time, be healthy, safe and happy. Know that you are loved and appreciated and that your very existence makes people happy. Love yourself first so you can love those around you and know too that the good Lord loves you too … very much. Thank you for reading Gig Line, for your calls, cards and emails about my little Yorkie Pepper that passed on January 4 this year. She was my little buddy, my side kick, my cuddly loving little sweetheart who never tried to hurt anybody. She was the best little dog in the world, and I miss her more than ever. Thank you for caring, everybody. I love you all. Stay tuned!