Barbara Gilmore contacted us not long ago. She’s a widow of the late James Edgar Gilmore. Jim was a US Air Force veteran who passed away in 2010. His wife, Barbara, lives in Pinson and called us one day recently. As a staff member of Three Hots and A Cot and committed to helping veterans and their families, when I heard about this, I wanted to meet Barbara and hear her story. I’m glad I did. It was genuinely moving and I wanted to share it.
First, at the top of this post there’s a pic of some of the needed repair work we’ll be doing:
We would like to help Barbara with some of the repair work that needs to be done, so we are scheduling it for this October 2016. Our engineers will be out there soon working on it.
Now to the story:
James Edgar Gilmore was a US Air Force veteran who passed away in 2010. His wife, Barbara, lives in Pinson and called us one day recently. As a staff member of Three Hots and A Cot and committed to helping veterans and their families, when I heard about this, I wanted to meet Barbara and hear her story. I’m glad I did. It was genuinely moving and I wanted to share it.
The story really begins around the time Jim was discharged from the US Air Force in 1957 as a single man.
Jim and Barbara’s first date
Barbara was already best friends with Jim’s sister. One day, Jim’s sister decided Jim needed to go out on a date with someone. Jim agreed but couldn’t decide who to ask. So the sister brought out a High School year book and told Jim, “Pick someone in the book!” So Jim did. Says Barbara, “…he picked me!” So Barbara went out on a double date consisting of Jim and Barbara, Jim’s sister and her date.
According to Barbara, she and Jim didn’t exactly connect right away. Barbara explains, “I didn’t like him at first. He was a fast-talker. He even told me we were going to get married.”
Within two years however, Jim and Barbara had really warmed up to each other. Barbara continues, “…and you know that song by Ferlin Husky, My Special Angel? One day Jim told me that’s our song.”
Barbara and Jim were married on January 11, 1959, two years after his discharge from the US Airforce and his first date with Barbara.
Jim went to work in a civilian occupation. He was always a bright, multi-talented man. Jim enjoyed Nascar and Football. Woodworking and painting murals were among his favorite hobbies and he could frequently be found trying out new things. Barbara told us that, one day, practically on a whim, Jim decided to take up needlepoint, knitting and crocheting. According to Barbara, at least on one occasion he had finished a particular project, “…and his looked better than mine!”
The Gilmore Home
Before moving to Pinson where Barbara still lives today, Jim and Barbara lived in Center Point. Barbara tells us that the neighborhood around their home was becoming increasingly dangerous. For example, their basement had been broken into at least once and the house had been burglarized twice. So they started looking around and as soon as the house in Pinson became available, they bought it. Barbara still remembers with amazement, “…we chose it, bought it, closed on it and moved in, all in eight days.”
Jim’s Work and Health
As the years passed on his job, Jim developed a chronic bronchitis that developed into COPD. He was in and out of the hospital with pneumonia several times. At one point, his job began requiring all workers to wear respirators. With his breathing difficulties, Jim found it very hard or impossible to breathe while wearing a respirator, so being only six months away from retirement at the time, Jim was left with no choice but to go ahead and leave.
Jim was eventually put on oxygen and that helped manage his breathing issues for the next twelve years. After only five years of making their house in Pinson a home, Jim passed away on March 31, 2010.
Like all devoted husbands, woodworkers, and handy man types, Jim enjoyed keeping the house up and fixing any problems that were brought to his attention. In fact, Barbara tells of a gap that used to be between the front door and the wood frame and that kept the front door from closing properly. Jim couldn’t rest until it was fixed. Barbara remembers, “…ten days before Jim died, he told me that gap had to be fixed, and so he fixed it.”
Jim is gone now
Over six years have passed since Air Force veteran James E Gilmore passed. In that time, Barbara has maintained the watch over the home. Barbara explains that she doesn’t want the house to just rot and in her words, “…fall down around me.” Occasionally discovering needed repair work, Barbara has tried more than once to get the work done. People have come out, checked the job, given estimates, taken Barbara’s money and started work. But the work has been shoddy, patched up poorly or not done at all.
Being a widow and living on social security, Barbara again explains about the dangerous neighborhood her and Jim moved out of and the poor work done for her recently. As she wipes a tear from her eye she says, “…I’ve been ripped off coming and going. I live on social security and I can’t afford it. I don’t have anybody to turn to. I don’t know who to trust.”
Barbara gets inspired
At times like these, like many of us, Barbara seeks solace. She thinks about the son she lost in a car accident and recalls something from the Bible in Corinthians 3, 4, and 5. Barbara says, “It talks about how life is but a shadow and I feel like that’s a message that Mark is ok.”
Hearing about her inspiration, I ask Barbara how she came to know about Three Hots and A Cot. She smiles and says, “From the TV…that news story.” I ask, “You mean that story that ABC 33/40 did about us?” Barbara replies, “Yes, I really only caught the tail end of it but it was enough to feel like there might be some hope.” She adds, “Jim was a patriotic man. He loved veterans and would be very upset about all the stuff going around about the flag and the Pledge, you know?”
Hearing that, suddenly some puzzle pieces fall into place. Three Hots and A Cot was founded by veterans for veterans. As brothers-in-arms, we have a bond like no other. We support veterans everywhere. We also believe in supporting veteran families in whatever ways we can.
Even though Jim Gilmore is no longer with us in material form, perhaps it’s not too much a stretch to imagine that somehow he continues watching over Barbara. Maybe it was more than accident that Barbara caught the end of that story, saw our name, felt some hope, and decided to contact us. Maybe we’ll never know for sure. In any case, we feel the call for help and we have chosen to respond in whatever way we can.
We would like to help Barbara with some of the repair work that needs to be done. We’re asking you to support us in this effort. As mentioned earlier, Barbara lives on social security. She has already spent money on this, has lost all that money, and has received no satisfaction for any completed job. We are going to improve that situation for her.