SWFL father in hospital, community supports family for holidays

A father in Southwest Florida is spending his Christmas in the hospital after a freak accident at home. He was on a ladder prepping his family’s home to be painted when he fell and injured his head. But the family’s community is coming together to make sure they are taken care of during the holiday season.

Since the day he met his wife at church, Eston Taylor has treated Shellie Taylor’s children like his own for more than 10 years. One day, Shellie’s kids asked Eston a special question.

“Our son said, ‘Can’t you just adopt me?’” Shellie told WINK News.

Shellie was emotional. She spoke to us a lot about Christmas — not about the presents or the dinners or the services, nothing like that. She told us about what the spirit of Christmas means to her, and how it’s helping her family in Cape Coral through their difficult time.

This year, Eston finally fulfilled the kids’ request.

“He chose us in 2008, but it got official on Monday,” Shellie said.

It became official just in time for Christmas. Shellie said it felt like a Hallmark film. Everything seemed well and good.

“Your family goes through such a high when something like an adoption happens,” Shellie said. “And, then, on Saturday, everything changed within a couple seconds.”

Eston was on a ladder at their home, power washing the house to prep it for a new coat of paint when he lost his balance and injured his head.

Now, Eston is at Lee Memorial Hospital in the ICU in a medically induce coma. When she isn’t visiting Eston at the hospital, Shellie goes back home to visit the spot at their house where he fell.

“I stand there, and I pray,” Shelli said. “And I cry.”

But when she went back to visit the spot Tuesday morning, Shellie noticed something different, something she wasn’t supposed to see — paint and brushes.

“I was bawling, and I said, ‘Who is painting our house?’” Shellie said.

She didn’t know it then, but a group of her friends and friends of friends got together. They all made a plan to quietly finish Eston’s job.

“That’s what we should be doing. That’s what we should be serving one another and supporting one another,” family friend Tammy Scott said.

“Even someone from Jacksonville has called in the order for pizza on the day they’re going to do all of this,” said BJ Brundage, Eston’s mother-in-law

Friends will paint Taylor’s house Thursday morning. Most of the group works for School District of Lee County, where Shellie works. They’ll be joined by a few professional painters who are donating their time to help her family.

Shellie never expected to spend her Christmas at the hospital, watching her husband fight for his life. But she says the Christmas spirit is about so much more than presents. It’s about the love and support the community’s giving her.

“You open gifts, and, once you open the gifts, they’re done,” Shellie said. “It’s like you can continue to open gifts.”

Reporter:Sydney Persing
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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