Paul and Lorraine Hebert were special guests at the Société Historique et Généalogique de Smoky River in Donnelly during the evening of Sept. 13.
Paul Hebert, author of ‘The Sun Above the Clouds’, talked about his near-death experience from electrocution that occurred in September 1989, when he lived in the Smoky River region.
The audience of over 40 people was captivated as he described the trauma that he endured, but also the triumphs and fellowship that he shared with family and friends.
“It’s quite a journey,” he says. “It’s painful, but I’ve learned to appreciate life.”
Several times, Paul Hebert appeared to be hold back tears as he remembered and described what he endured.
Hebert worked as a lineman for a private power company in the region. One night in September 1989, Hebert was called out to a power outage. Hebert was reluctant to go, but he did so. While at the scene, the power was turned back on and Hebert was accidentally electrocuted.
As a result, Hebert ultimately lost his right arm, two fingers on his left hand and both legs.
Hebert admitted to the audience that suicide entered his mind, at this very low point in his life.
“That pain is very strong,” he said. “The thing is, I was losing my identity.”
Lorraine also offered her thoughts about all that they have endured over time, as well as the steadfastness and anchor point that she became for him to have the quality of life that he does now.
She had stern determination to ensure that he remained healthy, and that included her dealings with the doctors and required surgeries.
“The book talks about empowering each other,” Lorraine said.
People develop survival skills when they face struggles and harm, she continued, adding that her husband suffered PTSD, but he also developed coping skills.
One aspect of how Paul Hebert’s life changed was in his challenge to do simple things like eat. But other people were able to help him adjust to these challenges with their own assistance, such as preparing a sandwich in a particular way, allowing him to handle it without a struggle. These forms of assistance allowed him to enjoy life to its fullest.
The Heberts took questions from the audience and they joked occasionally with them, too. The following passage is found on the back cover of ‘The Sun Above the Clouds’:
“In Paul Hebert’s inspirational memoir, travel back to a day when men cleared wooded homesteads by hand and horse but raised their families with violence. Watch Paul escape his upbringing to find joy and purpose in being a lineman, skiing, travel, nature and love, after defeating alcoholism and brawling.
“Then endure the tragedy of a 14-thousand-volt electrocution that left Paul dead and ultimately without hands and feet. Enjoy the love and friendship that helped rebuild a life filled with family, sports, friends old and new, travel, and a new purpose to share a personal message of safety, forgiveness and friendship. And with all the jewels of wisdom gained along the way, arrive at the peaceful conclusion, that triumph outshines tragedy, if you choose it to.”
As part of this report, check out the series of videos found on the Smoky River Express’ YouTube Channel, where the couple offers their insights to the audience.