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September
13
2021

September 12, 2021

09.12.11
It was a “lazy weekend with Dee,” of rest and catching up on sleep. She went outside yesterday for some fun in the sun with Baby Arendell to celebrate National Grandparents’ Day! Interestingly, Helen touched base recently with a couple of the neurological ICU doctors who met Dee very early on, when she was still in a coma. The overwhelming message was:
- She has no doubt defied the odds already, her progress to date is miraculous.
- The sky is the limit. 
- 15 weeks is no time in the world of brain injury.
- Her case is a lesson in humility for doctors.
 
This was very encouraging to hear as we are always anxious about what’s next. Helen and I prayed with Dee earlier today that we can all let our hearts rest in God’s hands. As tough as it is to see at times, He’s here with us.

-Ross

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September
5
2021

September 5, 2021

“Dee, look surprised!” Eyes brows bowed upwards, fingers extended and neck muscles flexed; Dee’s upper body jumps and she puts on a show, joking around, showing us she still has her sharp sense of humor. Since we were kids, she has taken pictures of us while making funny faces behind the camera to get us all to laugh.
 
Early on, I was unreasonably embarrassed having my mom stop to capture golden moments on film. It wasn’t until I grew older that I began to truly appreciate my mom’s relentless enthusiasm to capture every
moment. She lives for those moments. Stopping us in our tracks to help realize that we cannot take anything for granted. If I am ever aggravated when she proposes a family or friend photo, shortly afterwards I am laughing and living in the moment under the influence of Dee’s contagious smile, laughter and goofiness….and later I would probably post the photo on social media! 
 
Our family and friends know this affinity for picture taking, smiling and goofiness all too well. If you feel moved, please let us know of a funny “Dee moment” below. 
 
~Ross

September
2
2021

September 1, 2021

09.01.21
 
“My reasons for allowing these adversities may be shrouded in mystery, but my continual Presence with you is an absolute promise.”
 
There’s no hiding the dark struggle of the summer. Our family trip to Blowing Rock shortly followed by our beach weekend in Morehead City seem like they were just yesterday. How much life can change in the bat of an eye. Without seeking God and knowing he is here holding me, my family and my mom in his hands, I would be absolutely lost…like a sailor in a tempestuous sea without a rudder. 
 
I do feel like my heart and emotions are rocked by the whitecaps, but I have God as my rudder.  His reasons for what’s happened have seemed confusing…with grief hitting me like a heavy fog and sheets of rain in the storm. However, God has placed a compass in my hand and I know that it is showing me, and showing us the way. I’ve seen images (promises) of God often. Check-in calls from friends, dinner with mentors and the constant love exhibited by family have all been glimpses of His love. The support my professors and classmates at UNC have shown has been immense and as Dee would say…are little reminders of why Helen and I are so blessed to be part of such a fine institution. God’s love for me has been felt everywhere - from holding my mom’s hand at her bedside to late night babysitting my niece Arendell. 
 
Earlier this evening my mom’s kind nurse was sharing her own perspective on my mom’s significant improvement the past 2-3 weeks: a warmer, more lively presence, more directive movements, throwing the tennis ball, etc…
 
At the end of the nurse’s check-in she could see tears welling up in my eyes. “Don’t give up. We must continue to practice patience because our Dee is really turning the corner.” 
 
God’s love is here. He has a plan. He has made it clear through multiple means that He is not giving up. And we aren’t either. 
 
~Ross

August
28
2021

August 27, 2021

“Love is patient, love is kind…[love] always hopes, always perseveres.”

Ninety days along. Dee has had a great week, and we remain steadfast by her side with love, patience, hope and perseverance. Here are a few recent highlights (some persistent, some new):

- Nodding head yes/shaking head no

- Shrugging shoulders
- Smiling

- Blowing kisses

- Pointing to people in photographs 

- Mouthing syllables/words and attempting vocalization 

- Picking up and tossing a tennis ball and other other objects 

- Kicking legs and bending knees

- Attempts to help dress herself (with PT/OT) and roll herself over in bed

- Swallowing ice chips 

We pray for medical stability, continued forward momentum, including increasingly sustained periods of alertness…all the while remembering that slow and steady wins the race…

Much love for Dee,

Helen

 

August
23
2021

August 22, 2021

“TRUST ME, and don’t be afraid. I want you to view trials as exercises designed to develop your trust-muscles.”
 
With the medical team’s permission, Helen and I did a “test run” taking my mom outside her hospital room yesterday, wheeling her out into the hallway to look out the large windows at the beautiful clouds and green treetops. Today, with Helen steering Dee in her chair and me with O2 tank in tote, we ventured down to the courtyard at WakeMed. We put trust in the medical staff and ultimately God that this would be safe. The heat had passed and a nice cool breeze foreshadowing a storm had kicked up. We sat under the shade of a tree and Paul brought Baby Arendell into the courtyard to sit in Dee’s lap. Due to COVID visitor restrictions, Arendell sadly has not been able to visit Dee this entire 12 weeks! We couldn’t think of any better medicine for our sweet Dee than to hold sweet “Baby Peep” and for Dee to assist with feeding her a bottle and some squash. Peep showed Dee her “new tricks” - pulling up to stand and crawling. The visit was concluded with Dee giving Peep’s fuzzy blond head a kiss. This was a “red letter day,” and I hope we can make outdoor trips and visits with Baby Arendell a more regular activity for Sweet Dee.
 
- Ross

August
19
2021

August 18, 2021

“Greet one another with a holy kiss...” Romans 16:16.

The first person on Earth who loved me. The first person who showed me affection. To feel the sweetness of her soft lips with a kiss on the cheek today…PURE BLISS!

Dee also surprised John Banks and me with her wit this morning. She gave us a solid “eye roll” (x2!) in response to some sarcastic conversation and inside jokes.

Despite her current state, not surprisingly, Dee does not falter in ability to show affection and humor!

With hope and healing prayer,

Helen

August
17
2021

August 17, 2021

Loving Mama. Devoted Wife. Loyal friend. Three sentences, six words and YEARS of memories to reflect why these are Dee’s three most important descriptors.

No matter the circumstances, my mom is always there for her children (and grandchild). She often says “Ross/John Banks/Helen, there’s no need for you to worry about that, because I’m worrying about that for you.” She has been happier than ever recently as a new “super granny” to Helen and Paul’s daughter Arendell. 

37 years and counting, my mom has stood proudly at my dad’s side. Early in their marriage, the two suffered together when a pediatric brain tumor (medulloblastoma) took my older brother Jimmy. It would’ve been understandable for that to lead to deep rifts and brokenness. Not between my parents. My mom went on to have three more kids and live life to the fullest. Her devotion and love was obvious last night when my dad and I were visiting with her at Wake Med. He stroked her arm and said “I love you Kitty.” Immediately she opened her eyes and moved her right forearm across her body and reached for his hand. This lateral movement is a very positive sign. I remember my mom’s neuro-intensivist at Duke in early June talking about how he looks for purposeful lateral movement when looking for promising signs of improvement in his patients like my mom. It took a lot for her to do that today. It was all rooted in love and devotion for my dad- Doc.

Lastly, my mom’s loyalty to her friends is pervasive and perhaps the most important part of her personality. Earlier this summer, Pastor Bob Disher mentioned how several friends would stop him around town and ask him if he knew how Anne was doing. Each person would likely consider themselves one of Anne’s best friends. She has a listening ear, warm heart, and understanding smile that never meets a stranger. She’s not only a loyal friend to her Glue Group, Bible Study, Bridge Club, tennis teams and siblings, but she’s also Helen, John Banks and my most loyal friend. We can tell her anything and trust she has our best interest in mind.

As we all continue to support Dee down this long road of recovery, I ask you to think about what she is to you, and continue to share with us!

~Ross

The photos below are hanging in her room, and represent only a fraction of her “universe” of family and friends. 

August
14
2021

August 14, 2021

“When you walk through a day with child-like delight, savoring every blessing, you proclaim your trust in Me, your ever-present Shepherd.” I couldn’t think of a more apt description of my mom than the quote above. No matter what day it is or who she comes across, she takes pleasure in noticing and celebrating the positives. She meets the morning stillness of Hyco Lake, humid summer night walks, grilling burgers on a Monday night and other events most would overlook as true gifts. Growing up, I clearly remember my mom being the only one awake and willing to take me slaloming or wakeboarding before 7:30 am. We’d greet each other on those mornings with child-like excitement for the day. Yesterday morning, both of us shared this excitement for her swallowing ice chips in her speech therapy session. A different setting, a different event, but both of us saw it as a new gift and something to rally behind! Carrying the celebration forward, I played tennis for the first time in a while last night under the lights in Chapel Hill. Enroute to Helen’s after my session, I noticed distant heat lightning. Night tennis and summer storms are prime examples of common things my mom and I share a common excitement over. It’s a small thing…a small observation…but I truly believe it’s a manifestation of God’s love. Sourced in Him, my mom and I have SO MUCH LOVE to give, and look to savor each moment, knowing we will not get this time back.

~Ross