Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Valentine’s story. . . Two hearts now beating as one--King couple married in hospital room
by Leslie Bray, News Editor
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Submitted photo These nurses were the fairy godmothers who made Sharon Wall Barber’s wedding day dreams come true. Her cardiologist, Dr. Kerry Gilliland, was also part of the surprise wedding event, having told the heart floor nurses Sharon and Ricky’s touching story.

It wasn’t the wedding Sharon Wall Barber had imagined. In fact, it was one she would’ve been hard-pressed to dream up. Instead of love in the shadows or love on a two-way street, it was love in a hospital room.

Sharon Wall and Ricky Barber, both of King, were united in matrimony on Dec. 17, 2010, in a room at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem. Two hearts joined as one on the sixth floor—the heart floor.

You see, just a few hours before the ceremony, Sharon had undergone surgery to put a stint in her heart. The surgery was unexpectedly sudden—done on an emergency basis on the special day Sharon had chosen for her wedding day.

But this lady in love was not about to have her plans foiled. Dec. 17 was the date she had first started dating Ricky, and she was determined it would be the day she married him.

It all began on that day in 2007. The couple has been together ever since, despite a few times of separating only to come back together. Sharon says that the last time they broke up, they stayed apart for three months. It was then that Ricky made the decision that he never wanted to be apart from her again.

“He had a terrible time,” Sharon recalls how he begged her back then dropped to his hands and knees to ask her to be his wife. She agreed to marry him.

“When?” he questioned her.

“On our anniversary,” she replied.

Wedding plans began to unfold for a 7 p.m. wedding on that memorable date. Due to financial struggles and physical disabilities, Sharon and Ricky were unable to spend a lot of money on fancy rings. She already had a wedding band for him, but there was nothing for her. So they paid a visit to Goodwill where they found a cheap ring for $1.

But in the midst of the sparkles and sunshine, something darker began to intrude on the happy couple’s ecstasy.

“Something had happened to me,” Sharon explains. “I had real bad chest pains for about two weeks, so I went to the doctor.” She was already a diabetic who had lost a toe and experienced health problems. Her doctor felt the need for further investigation, so he made Sharon an appointment to visit Dr. Kerry Gilliland, a heart specialist in Winston-Salem.

The appointment date? Her anniversary.

Since Sharon cannot drive, a neighbor who also attends church with her at Woodland Baptist, took her to the heart specialist. There, the prospective bride underwent an EKG.

The doctor returned grimly with the results. There was something seriously wrong with her heart—a blockage in the major artery. He wanted to do a stress test and suggested sending her to the hospital immediately.

Sharon immediately panicked and began to cry, “Oh, no! Today is my wedding day,”

Dr. Gilliland responded that this was very serious and that she could easily have a heart attack. He advocated surgery on Monday, but the stress test immediately.

Meanwhile, the neighbor had already left, and Ricky came to pick up his fiancee. Sharon admits that she was mean to him in her state of panic. He, she says, was worried about a heart attack; she was only worried about getting married.

Ricky confirms his wife’s story: “I was more concerned about her. I tried to talk her out of it, but she was bound and determined to get married that day.”

Ricky dropped her off at hospital, and they asked about holding a wedding there. When given permission, Ricky headed back to King to take a shower, get ready and pick up her clothes and the wedding license.

Sharon was settling into her new hospital room when the nurses came in and began prepping her for surgery. She protested that the doctor had told her he would operate on Monday. They countered that this had been changed. So the bride-to-be was rolled into surgery with no friends or family members present.

Sharon was not put to sleep during the procedure and was rolled fully alert out of a successful surgery. . .into the wrong room.

Or was it?

She was joined by Ricky who had also been told a room number different from the original one. Unbeknownst to Sharon, Ricky had rounded up his sister Sherry, her husband David Shaw, Ricky’s brother Michael Barber and his wife Betty and Sharon’s son to come to the hospital.

Sharon says she remembers being so upset because here she was in the wrong room and she didn’t think she’d be getting married on the one day she had dreamed of taking those vows.

Everything changed when the nurses told her they needed to take her to the correct room. What she saw there touched her mended heart in a way that she will never forget.

“There were flowers everywhere,” Sharon describes the scene. In the middle of her bed was a heart made of rose petals. On a table was a large decorated sheet cake, a dinner for two and champagne glasses.

And to top it all off was a wedding ring—a blue setting with diamonds on either side.

“I cried; it was so special,” says Sharon in a voice fraught with tears nearly two months after the fact.

Ricky confesses that he, too, was moved emotionally: “It stunned me. I ‘bout cried, too.”

The non-traditional wedding took place in the hospital room with friends and family present. “I looked awful,” Sharon laughs about it now. “I had just gotten out of surgery.” But that didn’t hinder her joy one iota.

“It was such a blessing,” she declares with emotion. “I couldn’t believe someone would go out of their way to do something like that.”

The “someone” that went out of their way was a collective “someone.” Dr. Gilliland had confided in the sixth floor nurses and told them the heart-wrenching story of Sharon and the long-awaited anniversary day wedding. Together, they hatched a plan to surprise the couple.

Sharon says she will never forget their kindness. “ I want to do something for them—go visit them, take them flowers, something,” she insists.

But for now, that is out of the question. She has been on bed rest and taking much medicine since the surgery. Sharon can tell, however, that she’s getting better. In fact, she says, she felt immediately better after the operation. “Before that, I would get of breath walking to the mailbox,” she recalls.

The newlyweds are preparing to spend their first Valentine’s Day together as husband and wife. “It’s gonna be romantic,” Sharon predicts with confidence. “Here we are again—can’t really do anything for each other again, with our finances. But God’s still blessing us.”

Her goal for the future is simple. To get better and live happily ever after.

A woman with such heart just might get that fairytale ending; she’s already headed that way.

Read more: The Stokes News - A Valentine’s story Two hearts now beating as one King couple married in hospital room

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