Mother finds comfort in Washington during family ordeal

Published 5:17 pm Tuesday, August 7, 2018

On Friday, July 27, Barbara Walton received the phone call that is a parent’s worst nightmare.

Her son and granddaughter, while vacationing on Ocracoke, had been caught in a rip current. While he was able to get his daughter to safety, he was unable to free himself from the surf. Upon being rescued, he was taken to Vidant Hospital in Greenville, where he is currently in intensive care, fighting for his life.

Walton and her husband immediately packed a change of clothes and drove the 500 miles from their home in Tellico Plains, Tennessee to eastern North Carolina. With no knowledge of the area, or plans for where they would stay, the two arrived in Greenville that evening.

“What we have found since the time of our arrival amidst our heavy hearts and weary minds, has been some of the most humbling experiences of our lives,” Walton writes in a journal detailing her ordeal. “The people of Greenville and Washington have amazed and poured blessings on us beyond our comprehension.”

While Walton credits the doctors and nurses at Vidant Hospital in Greenville with caring deeply for her family during their time of need, she has also found help close to home here in Washington.

Coming to a strange place with only a change of clothes, it soon became apparent that they might be in the area longer than first anticipated. For the first few days, Walton and her husband were able to receive a discount at a local hotel in Greenville.

“As it became obvious that this was going to take some time, my husband had to return home to work,” she wrote. “But I could not leave. Nor could we afford to pay for a hotel room.”

In desperation, Walton was soon considering the possibility of temporarily living in a tent for the duration of her son’s time in the hospital. Looking for campsites in the area, the couple happened upon one in Beaufort County.

After hearing the situation the Walton family was facing, the campground owners offered Walton a cabin to use through Aug. 10. Beyond that, they offered Walton use of a car while her husband returned to Tennessee. Not expecting anything in return, the two told Walton that if she needed anything, she only had to ask.

The kindness that Walton encountered didn’t stop there. Other residents of the campground have been kind enough to bring her food and check on her needs throughout her time there.

One evening at a local laundromat, Walton writes of an encounter with an older gentleman who sat and cried with her after hearing her story, giving her a $100 bill to help her daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

This past Saturday, Walton’s husband brought a camper trailer down from Tennessee, loaned from a coworker. With a place to stay and her needs met so generously during a difficult time, Walton says she is forever grateful for the people of Washington.

“I hate to think how this would be for me without all of the angels I have met here in Washington,” Walton writes. “We have received visits, prayers, food, shelter, transportation, money and so much love and support. I am forever grateful and indebted to these people and to this community.”

Concluding her story thus far, Walton quotes country music artist Luke Bryan’s lyrics, saying “I believe that if you just go by the nightly news, your faith in mankind would be the first thing you lose.”

Yet, her time here in Washington has shown her something different. She finishes her entry as such, “While we walk day by day praying for a miracle, God has provided so many angels and restored our faith in mankind.”