The Story-- Ann and her Strokes


           On April 20, 2007, my wife, Ann suffered a severe stroke and was paralyzed on her left side.  Miraculously, she  recovered and could  use both hands and feet and  drive and do the normal things.  I am convinced, however, that none of this would have been possible had it not been for a wonderful physical therapist at Seton Hospital who saw Ann a few days after her stroke, came in, and told her that he was going to pull her up from her hospital bed and see if she could stand. After an intense struggle, Ann was sitting on her bed, then the nurse grabbed her hands and he said, "Let's stand up".  He pulled her up and then after a moment, released his hands and said, "Look, you can stand!  You have balance".  Those wonderful words gave Ann tremendous encouragement and the will to do all of the hard rehabilitation in the coming weeks which has led to her remarkable recovery.

       This small discussion above is a prelude to what happened at "Health South", the Austin rehabilitation center where Ann stayed for a number of weeks following her stay at Seton Hospital.  



One day, we had a nice conversation with  Melissa Bishop, the night RN on duty at Health South. We discussed among other things, science.  The next day on Ann's bulletin board was a written question to me from Nurse Bishop.


   "If we know the speed of light, what is the speed of dark?" 


In our discussions, I had told her about our electron microscope and that we could see carbon atoms in graphite and that I would be happy to take her over to UT one morning at the end of her night shift.   


That question from Melissa Bishop is the singular idea for the titles to my two new CDs to be published in July, 2008.  


I am truly proud of the breath and depth of this music , and I hope that you will find these CDs inspirational and  enjoyable.  Soon I will have some pre-publication mp3s online. Your comments always will be welcome.


By the way, after Melissa Bishop visited my lab and the electron microscope, here is what she wrote:  

" M Bishop, R.N.

  May 3, 2007  

Professor and Mrs. Brown,

I have not been able to speak to you in person because of our schedules. But I wanted to say what I saw through the electron microscope has changed my way of seeing. After seeing with my own eyes the divine order of the micro world, I see the divine order of the world as a whole. It has changed my life.  

Let me tell you, I came home to my woods in a bliss state. Out of the barn pranced my tall palomino mare, white tail plumming out behind. She blew her snorting breaths, this fanned her fire of life.  And I saw this great engine of beauty.  And I saw also every atom with my mind's eye, all shimmering and perfect in their place.  

I went to the henhouse. There on the ground was a lovely copperhead newly shed. All its colors so fine and so alert and alive. And again, the perfection within and without! I was astonished.  

Then I saw a gayly stripped little hunting hawk fly out of the woods and stoop on something. The bands of dark color across his wings and tail as he fanned them---were just like the banded pastures of the graphite atoms! how we can see this loviliness repeated as it is on the inside and again on the outside!  

Above all this, a summer tanger was singing. wonderous atoms organized into a living being! Not only that---it sings! And its atoms must shimmer. And the green leaves all around, spreading their sun traps in their perfectness. I was in such a state. I have calmed down now. But at will I can change my way of seeing and I will never be the same.  

I cannot thank you enough (but I know you both know what I mean).  


M. Bishop, R.N."




Ann came home in 2007 and had a wonderful recovery for two years; however, on July 17, 2009, she suffered a massive stroke, this time on her right side. It is completely paralyzed, Ann cannot talk this time, but she has all of her native intelligence.  She can say "yes" and "no",  and we use this way to communicate.  Our life has changed completely, but we are adapting to it.  The above photo was made in January 2009 the day she came home from the hospital and nursing home after nearly 6 months of intensive care.


More news: July 29, 2011. Since this time, many things have happened. We moved back to our home for Ann on January 29, 2010 and have been there ever since. Ann has been in the hospital many times since then, with one major surgery, but she continues to enjoy each day here at our beautiful place. Soon I will have some photos of Ann's Garden to show you. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about a new Endowment I have established in Ann's honor, visit the following:  



Again, keep in mind that August 26, 2011 will be our GOLDEN Anniversary!!



An Essay


“What’s in a Word?”



 R. Malcolm Brown Jr.

June 26, 2011 Sunday

305 Skyline Drive

June 26, 2011




It was Sunday, June 26, 2011, and I was into my early morning routine with Ann. We are usually alone on Sundays. She had her 7:00AM medicines, then I prepared breakfast for her as we listened to some beautiful baroque music on KMFA, our local classical station. Peaceful and calm this morning. No wind, slightly overcast, just beautiful. I told Ann that after breakfast, I had a surprise for her, some choice breakfast rolls. Her beautiful and magic eyes lit up in approval. As we both munched on these, I said to Ann, “How about some coffee to go along with these rolls?” 


Ann responded spontaneously, “Fantastic!”


I was dumbfounded!   In nearly two years since her stroke, Ann never ever had spoken the word, “fantastic”.  I responded to her, nearly in tears, how proud I was that she had said this beautiful word. It made my day, this Sunday.


My friends, today is a FANTASTIC day as all days that I have had the privilege to share with my Ann. What does one need in life to be happy? It’s not money. It’s not recognition. It’s the little things, like receiving an unexpected gift, such as the word, “fantastic” in Ann’s response to my offer to bring her a delicious cup of coffee! Well, I want you know that I immediately prepared that coffee! Ann enjoyed it so much. Upon drinking her first drink, I gazed into her eyes and saw that sparkle, and when she said, a word she has said many times since her stroke, “O Boy”, I knew that Ann really loved that first sip of a morning cup of coffee. You see, the little things do matter. I am so privileged to have more time with Ann. I call this truly quality time.


My message to my friends this day  is simply this. Carpe diem! Sieze the day. Value it! Take a look at the leaves, listen to the birds singing, think about the pouring of water and gravity and why things are so fragile on this planet, Earth. Invent quality time for yourself!


I am so lucky to have an original photo of the Earth made by the astronauts on their way back to Earth from the moon. It was a gift from Jess Demming of NASA who was extremely kind and helpful to me many years ago when I had a NASA grant to study the effects of microgravity on the crystallization of cellulose during its biosynthesis. There is not a day that goes by that I do not gaze at this photo and think that it is all here, on this globe, billions of people, 4 + billion years of life developing, ending ultimately in a life form that can think beyond its own self. What a privilege. Too often we get caught up in the daily chores of living. It does us good to periodically reflect on the good things that we have the privilege to experience.


This Sunday, take time to simply enjoy. Enjoy the world about you. Enjoy your friends. Think positively.  I know that there is much suffering and unfairness on Earth, but as John Denver put it, “I want to live. I want to grow. I want to see. I want to know. I want to share what I can give. I want to be. I want to live.”


 “We gaze into the night
as if remembering the bright unbroken planet
we once came from,
to which we will never
be permitted to return.
We are amazed how hurt we are.
We would give anything for what we have.”

Tony Hoagland



With gratitude to all of my wonderful friends and colleagues.


Carpe Diem!




More things will be posted to our website.  Stay tuned!  Thanks so much for visiting ! Malcolm

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