Please let me introduce to you Virgil Elliott, our dad, our strength and our hero.
The word "Hero" can be defined several different ways. We are fortunate that our dad is our hero in every way imaginable.
Our dad, like many others, served in the Military defending our country and our freedom. That selfless act did not come without a price. My dad served in the Vietnam War and while serving, he and other soldiers were traveling in a tanker truck when they struck a land mine. The land mine detonated, sending the truck flying up into the air. Many traveling in that truck did not survive and others, like our dad, were severely injured. Thankfully, our dad recovered from his physical injuries, but the mental horrors of that day have haunted him ever since. It brings to mind the song lyric, "In a time I don't remember, in a war he can't forget". PTSD is something he has endured most of his life but managed to manage it the best he could.
He also managed raising three very vibrant and headstrong daughters, which we are pretty sure wasn't easy. Daddy wasn't the type of father that "ruled with an iron fist." He was extremely nurturing, full of fun and adventure. We could fill pages of the different adventures he provided us, such as building an actual igloo for us to play in during a really good snow, taking us camping and hiking in the woods "just because," teaching us to change our own oil and change our own tire. He didn't demand our respect because he was our "dad" — he had our respect because of the type of dad he has always been to us.
He was also exposed to Agent Orange during his time overseas. It was in November 2018 that our family would understand just how significant that was. A brief synopsis of this particular "journey" would be to say, Dad's health seemed to start deteriorating in October. Dad has always been a bit on the stubborn side and really didn't care to go to the doctor much. Normally, it takes a call or threat from Missy (the oldest sister) to get him to even consider it.
Fast forward to what we all thought would be a normal day, and we got a call from my mom. She was extremely concerned about dad. After rushing over and we ended up calling an ambulance for him. It is important to note: he did not hesitate to go — we knew something was up. He ended up in the cath lab for what would seem to be a normal procedure to remove excess fluid around his heart. Little did we know, that procedure would be life changing. Not long after the procedure started my dad's heart stopped. We actually heard the "code blue" announced, and it was like we all knew it was him but didn't want to say it out loud because it would make it real. It didn't take long for the Chaplain to meet with us, and tell us what was going on. One of the hardest telephone conversations, Karen remembers ever having to make, was to let Missy in Raleigh know what was going on.
Thankfully, prayers were answered and my dad survived the cardiac arrest and was able to be transported to Wake Forest Medical Center. We met up at the hospital and waited to see our daddy. It was tough seeing one of the strongest men we knew laying there with tubes running here and there. We had no idea what his outcome was going to be and we were all scared.
Fast forward a few days later, and our dad is off the vent and is rid of most of all those tubes and wires. We weren't out of the woods yet, because the fluid around his heart wasn't normal. End result, the Agent Orange is to blame for our dad's newly found lung cancer. Devastated is probably the BEST word for how we took the news. Dad knew what he was doing when he raised us to be strong females because we had to rely on that strength a lot.
Our dad started chemo treatments with a prognosis that was pretty grim in our eyes. The chemo was to just slow the cancer down. "12 to 18 months" is what we were told when he started chemo. Never have we really fathomed hearing those words, no one ever really thinks about it until it hits their family. Our dad started chemo every three week. Some weeks were really hard on him and our mom but he kept pushing on.
Just days prior to Memorial Day weekend, we got the news that my dad is now in REMlSSlON!! We are all still very guarded, but we take each day as it comes and are all very thankful that God has chosen to grant us time with our dad.
There are lots of Dads out there that are deserving of this recognition, and maybe we are a bit biased to think our dad is the best candidate, but we would truly appreciate your consideration of him for your award.
Karen Elliott Ham, Ginger Elliott Joines and Missy Elliott Johnson
He has always been there for me and has been my crafting buddy and most importantly one of
my best friends, who has always made me laugh and picked on me to make me feel
better. l can truly say that my papaw is my hero who has picked me up and pushed me
forward. It's because of my papaw that I want to succeed in life and make great choices
to make him proud. l don't have enough time in a year to tell you how thankful I am for
you, but thank you for everything but most importantly thank you for being my hero and
making me into my best me.