Sunday, August 6, 2023

God Kiss Blog Series - The Handprint

When I sat down to write this story, I could still feel the positive energy radiating in my heart and soul after the interview.  The quote by Bob Marley that kept circling in my mind were, “ You never realize how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have”.  And sometimes when others learn what you have endured, they will say to you, I don’t know if I could have survived that.  And while no one chooses to experience brutal life lessons, they happen. I think it’s fair to say we have all had our own hard times and how we survive and move on is the key.  For the story that I am about to share, her Texas roots show how she is living life in a “hell ya” kind of gusto & grit manner as well as her reverence for life. With that, I’m honored to share Sharon Fuller’s story. 

Before the interview began, Sharon outlined 4 life truths in this order:

·       First and foremost, being a Christian, noting that she has a very personal and private relationship with God.

·       Family - her sister Lezah, her children & special people who are like family.

·       Her love for America. For the freedom we get to live by and for our 2nd amendment rights.

·       Her support system from friends & community members.

Sharon spent her early life in Texas before her family of 6 moved to Genesee, Idaho.  Sharon said school and the encouragement of her teachers were her refuge from a troubled home life. Being in a small rural town, true friendships form not only with your friends, but often with their entire family. This was the case for Sharon.  Her best friend from high school is still her best friend today.  Together she and her friend helped campaign for her friends’ father who became a State representative and went on to later be the Speaker of the House.  This foray into politics gave Sharon a deep appreciation for understanding how government works as well as the rights of people.

After graduating from high school. Life was looming in a big and beautiful way with so many possibilities stretching out. One evening Sharon and her friend were talking about life and then they pondered what would the worst thing each could imagine that could impact their lives?  The friend said rape and Sharon said living life in a wheelchair.  The two moved to Lewiston, got a 2 bedroom apartment and both got jobs in a local nursing home before they started their career paths, which was flight attendant training for Sharon and college for her friend.

Sharon & her horse

Sharon recalls waking up and hearing a man’s voice in the early morning hours of July 4, 1977. The man had broken into their apartment and sexually assaulted both young women. He was later arrested and sentenced to a lengthy prison term. 

On June 30, 1978, Sharon was a newlywed and had been married for 12 days.  She and her new husband, Rick were scheduled to go to Walla Walla for business.  But Sharon had a premonition that she shouldn’t go. Feeling uneasy, she called her sister who said the same thing, that there was this gut feeling that she shouldn’t go on this trip.  However, Sharon needed to sign some paperwork, so she put her feelings aside, climbed into their truck and was sitting on the bench seat in the middle, with no seatbelts.   Just outside of Pomeroy a drunk driver hit them, the pickup rolled several times landing upside down.  Upon impact, Sharon was thrown through the windshield and landed several feet from the truck.  Sharon was transported to the hospital wherein it confirmed, she was now a paraplegic as her spine was broken in 3 places.  This required her to have a special brace inserted.  In the hospital her best friend came to visit her and during one of their talks, she looked at Sharon and quietly said, “you know,  the worst things we could ever imagine have now come to pass”.  

Sharon was sent to a Seattle trauma hospital for rehab and how to learn to live life in a wheelchair.   The first of many acts of kindness were about to unfold. The Sheriff’s office flew her in their plane to Seattle as she couldn’t sit up.  When the hospital learned of her newlywed status and that her husband was staying with her, they replaced the hospital bed with a new queen size mattress for the couple. After 8 weeks, the couple came home and started their new life.  A few months later, Sharon became pregnant. Many doctors were unwilling to take a pregnant paralyzed patient, until one brand new doctor fresh out of med school agreed.  And Sharon and Rick became parents of a beautiful son, named Brandon.  Marriage, new parenthood coupled with the stress of being a paraplegic were too much for the couple to navigate and they divorced when Brandon was 2 years old.  Looking back Sharon recalls being grateful to Rick for standing by her  and acknowledges she was mourning the loss of her legs and that she let her insecurities and fear end the marriage.  All along she had thought she would wake up one day and walk and didn’t take her paralysis seriously.  Nor her health.  Pressure sores developed and she was hospitalized. There, she sought help from a psychiatrist who guided her to the realization that she could live a full life, plus she now had a 2 ½ year old son to take care of.  It was a new beginning on so many levels.

For 12 years it was just Sharon and Brandon.  During this time, Sharon had a laptop and was tinkering around on it. This was access to the world.  There she discovered social media in their very early stages.  She learned about “My Space” followed by “Facebook”.  Sharon had also started working for a local business whose focus was to assist anyone with a disability.  Sharon realized the power of social media and thus the beginning of a social media coordinator career began.

It was there at work, that she met Ted, who ran the accessible public transit for the disabled patients.  The romance turned serious, and they moved in together.  With Ted, they had one daughter, Brittany and a year later Sharon became pregnant with fraternal twins, giving birth to a daughter and son, named  Cheyanne & Teddy.

The pregnancy with the twins caused many physical difficulties and Sharon was sent to Seattle to have the hardware in her spine removed, which took 19 hours of surgery.  After the surgery, Sharon also ended up with staph infection.  She says quit counting the number of surgeries after 100.  Her health deteriorated; she weighed 87 pounds.  During this time her sister, Lezah, Ted’s parents, and the Genesee community rallied around Ted and the kids. However, all the surgeries and pain were fertile ground for depression and hopelessness set in. 

As Sharon lay in the hospital bed, she heard her doctor ask her pastor who had come for a visit to please pray for her.   Later, alone in her room, Sharon looked at the crucifix on the wall and prayed to God to help her. She knew she could throw in the towel and let life slip away from her.  As Sharon is recounting the story, tears well up and she continues, noting that in her hospital room, there was a large window, and not long after her prayer, the cleaning lady came in.  As Sharon watched her begin wiping down the windowsill, the lady went to spray the window and just then Sharon noticed that a small handprint appeared. This was from a recent visit from one of her young kiddos who had been standing on the windowsill.  At that moment Sharon yelled to the cleaning lady to stop and leave that small handprint visible.  She felt that tiny handprint was a message from God telling her that he wasn’t going to let her die and that she had children to take care of.   Plus, He had a plan for her life.

Fast forward, Sharon came home and was able to resume her position at work. With a renewed passion for God and life and helping others, Sharon began attending several national conferences about centers for independent living.  In her professional work environment, Sharon and her colleagues were involved with helping to see the passage of Idaho laws pertaining to people with disabilities as well as the most fulfilling achievement, the “American with Disabilities Act”.  

Today, Sharon holds the position as a Social Media Coordinator, a job that she loves and has been a part of for the last 30 years in the community.

Sharon with her kids

Sharon participating in a race

Sharon living life large!

In conclusion Sharon is beyond grateful for all the acts of kindness and help she’s received throughout the years.  And each June 30, the day of the accident, Sharon celebrates it as a “I am here day!”  And looking back over her life, she says she doesn’t think she would change the outcome of what happened the day of the accident.  Those events gave her a strong Christian faith and the eyes to see all the goodness bestowed by her family, friends, and community. In Sharon’s own words, “it inspired me to live my life the best that I can!~ 

Her personal motto is: “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting holy cow what a ride!”

P.S. Next God Kiss post with be the first Sunday in September.   Feel free to share the blog with others. Leave a comment if this inspired you. xoxo  Gayle


1 comment :

  1. What an amazing story and it was well written Gayle. Dorene