In the last issue of Pathlight, our Board Chair, Carl Hicks, wrote about his visit with Sharon Wilson and her family. We got word yesterday of her passing. We mourn with her family. We mourn for her and for all the good people we continue to lose to this terrible disease. They drive us forward fo the day when we can truly say, "no more".
Here is a reprint of Carl's article.
Those of you who have heard me speak have heard me sometimes refer to this journey we are on as the “Trail of Tears.” I am quick to point out that along this route all of us seem to experience both tears of sadness as well as tears of joy. Yesterday I spent some time with a remarkable family I met on the trail. Both kinds of tears flowed for better than an hour.
Sharon and David Wilson, of Bellevue, Wash., live in a modest home with their sons Michael and Matt. A typical all-American family on the surface, David is now retired. Sharon has given up a promising career and a life of service as a teacher just prior to attaining her lifelong goal of a principal’s position. What makes this couple different is that David, a non-smoker, is stricken with lung cancer, while Sharon is now completely bedridden with pulmonary hypertension. And, the day prior to my visit, Sharon had just written a check for $200,000 to PHA. Through her generous donation to PHA, Sharon has accomplished her dream of helping others within her own lifetime.
As we all visited in Sharon’s bedroom, I ached inside for what surrounded me. Then Sharon would smile a really pretty smile and tell me how much she had enjoyed her chosen work of teaching and mentoring the kids in her classes. She has been able to give something to her school, and we cried tears of happiness together. The unfairness of what had struck their family and the inevitable “Why me?” question led to more tears of sadness. We all had a chuckle when I had to ask Michael, the youngest of the two boys, his age after hearing him recount several years of service in the Navy. “He’s just a babyface” the rest of the family chimed in unison as if they’d answered that question dozens of times. I shed a few tears of happiness at the closeness of this family because I knew they would need it to help each other out. I did my very best to thank Sharon and her family on behalf of all of us for her selfless act of kindness with her magnificent gift. As I tried to explain how her dollars, designated for research, would someday help to alleviate the suffering for untold numbers of people of all ages stricken with this illness, we cried more tears of both joy for those she would help save and sadness for those she couldn’t.
Leaving, I tried to get a promise from her that she wouldn’t go anywhere prior to our celebrating her birthday on September 26. She smiled again, a beautiful smile of peace that suggested now, especially after the tremendously kind acts of the past few days, her work here was nearly done. The tears came again for me as I pondered that, hugged her goodbye and headed for home.
The “Sharon Wilson Pulmonary Hypertension Research Fund” has been constituted at PHA. Every penny of Sharon’s contribution will go to research for the cure.