Thursday, May 3, 2012

Saying Good-bye to History....

Tuesday morning I had the honor of joining two friends and going to say good-bye to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I was so very eager to go one more time. But I totally underestimated how hard it was going to be. I took a lot of pictures and I am going to share some of our favorite memories with you.

This is the hospital that helped heal millions of lives. We spent most of our time on the 5th floor in Ward 57. When I sit back and look at this picture all I can do is smile thinking about my family's journey.

This is where my part of the journey began on the afternoon of January 26, 2011. I was escorted by a member of the Army from the airport to the hotel and then inside these doors to meet SFC Motes who was our 101st liaison and sometimes life saver. I can't recall how many more times I walked through those doors.

On that bench on the left was where Chaz and I were when I received a very cool phone call. Then we met CSM St Louis from the 101st who is now with the 101st Association. I remember that day very well.

This is how Chaz got into the MATC almost everyday once he became an outpatient.
This is my re-enacting my phone call with the Montgomery County School System. This is when I told them we were home school our girls with or without their permission. That was another interesting phone call along this journey.
This is where I would help Chaz get on and off of his hand bike when he was training for the Army Ten Miler. He (and many other warriors) would race around the building on this very path.
This is part of the path we took to the hospital on our daily walks to and from the Fisher House.
This is the Old Red Cross Building. It was used for all sorts of things. We passed it everyday on our walks.
This is the Fisher House we stayed in from March until August 2011.
On March 20, 2011, our daughters walked through these doors and saw their Daddy sitting in the living room which was to your right. This was the first time they had seen Chaz since his injuries. It was an amazing moment full of hugs, smiles and tears. It proved to the four of us that everything was going to be ok. It was the beginning of a new chapter in this journey for us.
 This was our suite in Fisher House that worked very well for our family.

 This was Chaz's favorite parking spot. The van fit very well and he could wheel right into the house.

 This is how Chaz got out from the house and then to the back so we could enjoy the outside for a minute.
 Our girls love and miss this playground. Many, many hours of fun were spent right here.
 This little house was probably their favorite part of the playground.
 This patio used to have a grill and furniture and was filled with smiles and laughter. The residents hung out here often.
This is where our Fisher House friends Laura and Leah stayed. Their friendship has been a big perk out of this journey.
This is the hill that I pushed Chaz up in the pouring down rain last year. He yelled, "Mush, Mush!" at me like I was a husky. So then I said, "Say it again and you'll get a lesson in gravity." We laughed so hard as I pushed him all the way up that hill that night.
 The Mologne House is where the majority of our outpatient warriors and their families lived during their stay at WRAMC.
 The entrance used to have people sitting on its benches waiting to go on another adventure provided by executive services.
 You could never find a parking spot in this parking lot.
 This is the tunnel to the back of the Mologne House. Many days non-profits would line up in this tunnel and thank our warriors and their families for the service and sacrifice. So many different types of food would fill the tables set out here.
 This pond was filled with Koi fish waiting eagerly for you to drop them a piece of bread.
 We found the playground and decided it was just too lonely. So we each took turns making a few more laughs and smiles with it.
 This patio was once overflowing with love, life, smiles, tears, music and so much more. Now it's a ghost town.
 This was Wagner gym.
 This is the original Walter Reed General Hospital. 
 Chaz liked to come down here when the sprinklers had gone off and would spin out in his power chair.
 The path to the rose garden.

 This is how I knew someone was watching over me. This is the flower of a tulip poplar tree. I remember my granddaddy catching those flowers for me when they fell. It was at this moment I was pushed to tears.
 Then I looked up. The trees just gave me a sense of calm.
 I love this path under the trees. To me it's the road less taken.
 Then I looked back to admire the Rose Garden. I took in it's peace and serenity and mourned the fact that we don't have a place like this at the new hospital for the families. I realized that I was so lucky to have one last moment there. Then I wished that I could pick it all up and take it to the new hospital so all of our families could have a place to retreat to and just enjoy the beauty of nature.
 Another shot of the original hospital.
The fountain from the front steps.
 Looking up...
 This plaque will stay on the building so others will always be reminded of Walter Reed and his legacy.

 So many first steps were taken inside this building. So many advancements in prosthetics happened right there. 

 I just love this sticker!
 Chaz walked laps and laps and put in hundreds of hours of PT in that room.

One final picture of the map and the way it was....
And one last picture to say good-bye to the place that helped heal my family. I don't think we'll ever truly know how many lives Walter Reed Army Medical Center touched. But I do know we miss it horribly and that we're not alone.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing all this!
    Praying so very hard in Seattle!
    Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
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  2. Whatever the Lord allows to happen in your life, He'll get you through it! Praying!
    2 Samuel 22:2-3, 7 And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. (7) In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.
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  3. Always praying!
    2 Samuel 22:29-33 For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness. For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall. As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him. For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God? God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.
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  4. Praying!
    Hebrews 6:17-20 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
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  5. Thanks for this, Jessica. Seth was inpatient for our entire time there, so when we left I took photos, too, but they were of the ICU, PACU, and Ward 57 doors; the gardens outside ward 57, the shuttle stop where we waited for rides to the hotel, and the tree outside Seth's window. We only made it to one picnic out in the tunnel because, at the time, sitting up in his chair was too painful for Seth. What a ride this has been. Thanks for the memories.

  6. Jessica, my great uncle was a soldier and ended up being a patient at the "old" Walter Reed many years ago--and then my husband ended up working there. For years I heard my grandmother and great-aunt speak of Walter Reed and their bus rides from Alabama to WRAMC to be with Uncle Robert. I had no idea I'd ever be able to walk those halls where he and they walked. I feel so honored to have been able to visit Walter Reed and see what they meant when they spoke about this icon. When Al received his orders to WRAMC, I had no idea how much it would mean to me to be in that building. I feel so blessed to have walked where Uncle Robert and so many heroes have been (including Chaz.) :) May God bless you and your family!