Veteran Thrown off Motorcycle, Wakes from Coma and Whispers 1 Word to Daughter


The relationship a daughter has with her father is very important. It can become strained as a young girl grows into a woman, but when change is allowed in the bond it can become even more beautiful.

Barry Martin Carlton would pray with his daughter Shelby Parmenter every night before she went to sleep. They would always give each other butterfly kisses, by fluttering their eyelashes on each other’s cheeks.

Paramenter recalls listening to the song Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle over and over with her father. She commented, “It was always our song.” A memory and ritual that bonded them together for years.

For Parmenter, her bond with her father was put to the test one horrific night. Her dad was in a life-altering car accident, and she was the only blood relation who could make medical decisions for him.

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She recounted the story, saying, “At the hospital I had all of these doctors asking me about organ donations, blood transfusions, Do Not Resuscitates, living wills, and all I could think was, ‘I’m a child!’ But at 21 years old, and my dad’s oldest child, these decisions fell on me as an adult.”

On Nov. 4, 2012, Carlton and his girlfriend were riding his motorcycle at dusk on a back road in Starke, Florida. A car crossed the center line and collided with them head-on.

This being a less-traveled dirt road, it was a miracle that a car happened to pass by directly after and stop to lend what help they could. A woman named Rhonda who was a trauma nurse saw Carlton’s body and believed him to be dead.

She turned to attend to his girlfriend when Carlton started yelling. Not only was he alive, his leg was torn off and he was in danger of bleeding out, and quickly.

Although the retired 22-year army paratrooper recalled none of this, he instructed Rhonda to apply a tourniquet to his leg. He told her to use his belt, but when she tried to remove it he screamed in pain.

He had a broken pelvis in addition to a multitude of other injuries.  Rhonda mercifully had a bungee cord in the back of her car, and used that to slow the bleeding.

Carlton was transported to the hospital and remained in a medically induced coma for a whole week. Paramenter recalled, “His body was mangled and dismembered, and there I was: his little girl. Sobbing and praying for one more chance to give him butterfly kisses.”

When he finally awoke from the coma, Paramenter said, “I leaned down and whispered that I was going to give him butterfly kisses. As my wet lashes brushed his cheek, I asked if he could feel them. He closed his eyes, slowly nodded his head, and whispered, ‘Yes.'”

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After multiple surgeries and hours of physical therapy, Carlton is completely mobile again. He works full-time and continues to enjoy many outdoor activities.

But most importantly, he walked his daughter down the aisle and danced with her at her wedding, to their song “Butterfly Kisses.” Paramenter is beyond proud of her father.

“I am thankful to still have my dad,” she said, “and that he has not sat around and cried ‘woe is me,’ but he has fought and pushed himself to be better and live his life. I admire his willpower and strength, as well as his unwavering faith.”

The relationship between Carlton and Paramenter is wonderful, and it is by the grace of God they still have time on Earth to grow that together. It is beautiful to see the love between father and daughter strengthen through such incredible circumstances.

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A proud reference librarian at San Diego Law Library, Havilah is a recent graduate from iSchool at San Jose State University with her master's in library and information science.
A proud reference librarian at San Diego Law Library, Havilah is a recent graduate from iSchool at San Jose State University with her master's in library and information science. She is passionate about writing and education, and most recently created content for the iStudent blog at SJSU. She is also on the board at SANDALL, a chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries, currently serving as secretary.