Sometimes it’s hard to believe that my little grandson, who at the age of 4 had two brain surgeries that saved his life, went from looking like this…
To looking like this today…
Ben is only 12 years old, but he is so tall that he towers over me…
He does not remember anything at all about his health problems as a young child. When he was only 3, he was diagnosed with an arteriovenous fistula (a vascular abnormality) in his brain. It was a life-threatening condition, and he had two brain surgeries at the age of 4 and another surgery the following year, all done by the world-renowned New York doctor, Dr. Alex Berenstein, who developed the procedure for repairing AV fistulas in children. Ben was declared cured and has grown into a fine young man who excels academically, plays sports, plays percussion in his school’s concert band, and volunteers in his community.
I’ve been blessed to spend a lot of time with him lately. At a recent football game, his middle school concert band was invited to march on the football field with the high school marching band, and I made the trip over to see him on the field. (The middle schoolers all wore orange shirts.)
This past weekend, the concert band had their Christmas performance.
And then there was soccer. Ben’s team won runner-up in the regional tournament, and third place in the state championship. We sat in the cold rain this weekend to watch the state championship matches, and it was a challenge to keep my camera dry, but we had a wonderful time. (Ben is the tall player in the bright orange shoes.)
As always, we are so proud of this young man and so grateful to everyone who has kept Ben in your thoughts and prayers.
If I live to be 150 years old I won’t get over the fact that schools around here now begin the new school year the first week of August. And on a Friday. When I was in school… But that’s ancient history, and now is now.
Grandson Ben is now in 7th grade, the middle grade of middle school. He began school on Friday after spending a summer of fun and volunteer service as part of a group that not only did volunteer work locally but also made two out-of-state trips to perform volunteer service.
Every summer, the group travels to the small town of Bayou Le Batre, Alabama, a fishing village that is located on the Gulf of Mexico and is known for its seafood processing and shipbuilding industries. There they engage in a number of community service and outreach projects to this community that has been greatly affected over the years by hurricanes and oil spills.
For the first time this summer, the group also volunteered for a week at Give Kids the World Village, an 89-acre resort in Central Florida for disabled and critically ill children and their families. Since its inception Give Kids the World has offered cost-free week-long vacations to over 177,000 families from all 50 states in the U.S. and from 76 countries.
I’m very proud of this young man (who now stands heads and shoulders above me), and I wish him well in school this year and in all that he does.
Grandson Ben celebrated his 12th birthday this week, and I was so glad I was able to make the trip last weekend to watch him play in a soccer match and to celebrate early with him.
Ben does not remember anything at all about his health problems as a young child. When he was only 3, he was diagnosed with an arteriovenous fistula (a vascular abnormality) in his brain. It was a life-threatening condition, and he had two brain surgeries at the age of 4 and another surgery the following year, all done by the world-renowned New York doctor, Dr. Alex Berenstein, who developed the procedure for repairing AV fistulas in children. Ben was declared cured and has grown into a fine young man who excels academically, plays sports, and volunteers in his community.
This Spring he chose to play soccer rather than baseball, and I was able to watch him play in one match at least. In the photos, he is the tall player, number 32, with the blue and hot-pink shoes…
The following night we went to see a professional soccer match between the Chattanooga Red Wolves and the Northern Colorado Hailstorms, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. I love soccer! Ben posed with the Red Wolves’ mascot…
This weekend, Ben celebrated again, this time with three friends who all went bowling and played laser tag and arcade games together.
Happy birthday, Ben!
As always, many thanks to everyone who has kept Ben in your thoughts and prayers.
Another school year began yesterday (on a Friday), and our miracle boy is now in a different school. Ben is now in grade six which, along with grades seven and eight, comprise what in my day was called junior high school but now is middle school.
His school day will be longer with fewer breaks during the day, and although one of his parents will be able to take him to school in the mornings, he will be riding the school bus home in the afternoons.
Ben wants to learn to play a musical instrument, and this year he will be able to learn at school and to play in the school band. He also will be able to further his interest in science by studying robotics.
Best wishes, Ben, for a great school year!
As always, many thanks to everyone who has kept Ben in your thoughts and prayers.
Seven years after his first brain surgeries, grandson Ben has won his school’s top award. Last week, the day before school was out for the summer, Ben was named Mr. Westside in an awards ceremony in which he also received other recognitions. We are so very proud of him!
Ben’s school, Westside Elementary, includes Pre-K through 5th grade. He has attended school there since he was 4 years old in Pre-K, and this year he officially graduated from 5th grade. As part of the graduation ceremony, two students, one boy (Ben) and one girl, were named Mr. and Miss Westside, an honor awarded by the entire faculty and staff of the school. Criteria for the honor included: having been a student in the school since Kindergarten, academic excellence, involvement in extra curricular activities at the school and in the wider community, and excellence in character.
Mr. and Miss Westside
Fifth Grade Graduation
Westside “Rockets” since Kindergarten
Ben is one of only a few students who have been at Westside (which has 660 students) from Kindergarten through 5th grade. (Miss Westside not pictured.)
Congratulations, Ben! And thanks again to all who have kept Ben in your thoughts and prayers.
Our miracle boy turned 11 last week and had an outdoor party last Saturday, attended by family, friends and neighbors. I was able to drive the two and a half hours to be there for the entire weekend, but taking photos took a back seat to enjoying the day. I took a grand total of two good photos.
Ben loves the Atlanta Braves baseball team, and his party carried the Braves theme through even to the large chocolate chip cookie cake…
Ben (the tall one on the left) and his best friend J. were clowning around so much it was difficult to capture them both, but I did my best. The family is so grateful for the friendship between these young men. The night before the party, they built a tent in the family room, using dining room chairs and bed sheets, and they slept all night in sleeping bags on the floor under their indoor tent. Such fun!
If it’s Spring it must be baseball season. Baseball is just one of the sports Ben plays, and our hind catcher of five years ago now plays first base and also is becoming a good pitcher. I was able to see one of his games last week when I drove over to help out after his mom had an operation. His baseball team had its last game of the regular season tonight, so I won’t get to see him play again until next year.
In two days our miracle boy will celebrate his 11th birthday. Thanks to everyone who has followed his story and all who have kept him in your thoughts and prayers.
At the beginning of this month I asked for prayers and healing thoughts for my grandson Ben who had tested positive for Covid. We were worried about how the virus might affect him in light of his previous, serious medical issues. I am happy to report that he is fine. And I thank all who kept him your thoughts and prayers.
After what turned out to be only very mild symptoms and after over two weeks of quarantine, he will be returning to school tomorrow. As I noted in my previous post, his school has had very few cases of Covid, and schools in his area have been open since August.
Many thanks to everyone who sent healing thoughts and prayers Ben’s way!
This post today is to ask for prayers for my grandson Ben who tested positive today for Covid. If you are a praying person, please offer up a prayer for Ben. Otherwise, please send some healing thoughts his way.
My long-time readers are familiar with Ben. When he was 3 years old he was diagnosed with an arteriovenous fistula (a vascular abnormality) in his brain. Shortly after his 4th birthday he and his parents flew to New York where he had life-saving surgery. World-renowned surgeon Dr. Alexandro Berenstein performed two operations, one in which platinum coils were placed in Ben’s brain and the other in which medical-grade “super glue” was injected into the affected area to totally stop the abnormal blood flow and close off the fistula. A year later Ben’s life was again in danger, and another surgery was performed, resulting in the Dr. B’s declaration that “Brave Ben”…
We have officially entered the holiday season! Pre 2020, I was a stickler for waiting until after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas. But seeing as how 2020 has been a crap year, my family decided to start decorating early.
We love looking at the glow of the lights on the tree, and this year we got a new tree. I have wanted a 9′ tree for some time, and finally found one that I love. So, when we bought it in early November, we went ahead and put it up. It wasn’t long before we had it decorated and Christmas going up all over the house. We were almost completely decorated before Thanksgiving even came. But hey, it’s 2020, and anything goes, apparently!
Most every year, my son makes ornaments for close family. When he was younger, it was always different versions of fingerprint ornaments, but now that he’s 10…