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Tuesday, December 6, 2011


“A True Christmas Miracle”

It happened so fast that I went into panic mode.
It was Christmas time and I was teaching that last day before vacation---28 years ago to be exact.
As usual, my teacher friends and I exchanged gifts.
I was the recipient of a beautiful box of cashew nuts; thinking I’d better not eat them in front of the kids [oh how I wanted to!] I remember putting some of them into a bag and shoving them into my pocketbook.
My then younger son was a student at my school but in the fourth grade and my older son was in junior high school.

Had it not been for the fact that I had asked the principal to show the movie “The Hemlich Maneuever” I wouldn’t be writing this article. In fact, I wouldn’t have been writing anything.
The movie had been shown a week before Christmas to all of the students at school.

As usual on the last day for Christmas vacation, when the bell rang for dismissal everyone scattered out as fast as they could…students, teachers and all.
As for me, I had to go to “Magnet Bank” on Washington Street to cash a check [Magnet Bank is now a BB&T branch drive through.] Before I made a left turn across from the mall, I thought about those nuts in my pocketbook.
Quickly I popped a bunch into my mouth; major mistake as I had nothing to drink with me in my car.
I drove like a maniac into the bank drive through thinking they would have cookies or something since it was Christmas time .Wrong.
And my throat was closing up as fast as lightning.

When you get into a panic mode all you can do is think how to survive. I ran red lights and sped down West Washington Street to the Valley Bell [long gone, now the home of Rite Aid] and pointed to my throat. One girl realized I was choking and gave me a glass of water with crushed ice.
As I tried to drink it, it didn’t help.

I fled home feeling my throat getting tighter and tighter and I knew I was going to die before I could get out of the car.

It had to be a miracle that my then husband and my two sons were sitting at the kitchen table when I walked in.
Couldn’t talk. My older son said “Why is your face purple?” Pointed to my throat and my younger son immediately got up and did the Hemlich maneuver on me.
The cashew nuts that had been stuck in my throat came flying out all over the floor. I was alive! I wasn’t going to die.

Speaking of miracles and especially ones at Christmas, this was a true one.
For if my son had not been a student at my school or watched that specific movie, I wouldn’t be alive. Best of all was that he was home and knew exactly what to do.
My son is now grown with three children of his own.
And he may have forgotten the fact that he saved my life; after all it was quite a while ago. But to him I am so very grateful.
He was a lifesaver: at the right time, right place and one who always remembered movies. Thank God for that and for him.
Miracles all around us: I am living proof.

Sharon Reed Hill

*Published in the Charleston Gazette

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