Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance

Doctors Did Not Expect Her To Live



Here’s today’s SoCS prompt from our hostess, Linda Hill:

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “fab.” Use it as a word or find a word beginning with “fab.” As always, use any way you’d like. Have fun!

I don’t know if I’m going to have fun with this, but I will have … meaning? I have a story I want to tell. I will not fabricate it. It’s a true story about my friend, Fleming. On the day you read this, if you read it Saturday, I’ll be going to Fleming’s funeral. That feels final. And sad. But it’s not really final because she has a spirit that is alive and well.

When Fleming was born, the doctors did not expect her to live more than a few days. She was born with spina bifida. Back in those days, babies with her condition and severity were not expected to live long.  The doctor told her family to leave her at the hospital.

A couple of weeks after she was born, the hospital called her mother and told her that Fleming was still alive and they could take her home. They did not do surgery because she was still not expected to live long. That was the way it was back then in that hospital anyway. So Fleming came home.

She told me that her mother saw her two brothers in her room standing at the crib one day. I think it was late in the day. They were being quiet and her mother did not disturb them but later asked what they were doing. They told her they were saying prayers with their sister and laying their hands on her.

Fleming’s mother did extensive research on her daughter’s condition. She changed the dressing on her back every day.  She wrote a letter to a hospital in… I don’t recall where, another state, maybe it was Pennsylvania or Virginia – where they specialized in helping children with spina bifida. She got a letter back from a doctor there who let her know they had had good success with surgery and that she should make the doctors in Durham do the surgery to close Fleming’s back.

I’m writing this from memory about what Fleming told me, so I hope it’s accurate. I met Fleming about three or four years ago through Cursillo, which is an intensive weekend of classes on Christian leadership and lots of folksy music at Trinity Center.  We met at the closing service which is open to everyone and went to dinner with a group afterward. Over the next year or so we became friends. I saw pictures of Fleming when she was a child on crutches. She had the same bright smile. Later she had to get a wheel chair, but she remained independent. Fleming graduated from high school, went to college, worked as a substitute teacher and volunteered with terminally ill children for many years. She was very active in her church, especially with youth programs. Fleming made a lot of friends, and I am very honored and privileged to have become one of them.

The doctors had told her mother she wouldn’t live long and would be “a vegetable.” What a horrible thing to say. But Fleming lived 51 years. She lived a life full of love and spirit. Fleming and I got closer as we talked about the loss of our parents. She helped me with both of my estate sales. Just to get a visual glimpse of who she was, this was her last Facebook profile picture:

Peace Fleming

Fleming lived a rich life. I will miss her and the things we didn’t get to do and talk about. When I think about her life, I think about it as a rich fabric. That reminds me of the song by Carole King. Tapestry. The first and last stanzas of the song are fitting. The rest of it’s always been enigmatic.  So here’s the first verse.

“My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view
A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold.”
                                                                                                   Carole King

Fly free Fleming. Run, dance and be happy.

For more info on SoCS, visit:

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing (typos can be fixed), and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. I will post the prompt here on my blog every Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The,’” or will simply be a single word to get you started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours. Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read all of them! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later or go to the previous week by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!


Author: JoAnna

An open minded, tree-hugging Jesus follower, former counselor, and life-long lover of animals, I'm returning to my creative roots and have published my first book: Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again as well as the short version: From Loneliness to Love.

42 thoughts on “Doctors Did Not Expect Her To Live

  1. What a beautiful tribute. Sending you lots of love today.

  2. Dearest JoAnna, what a beautiful tribute to your friend Fleming, and what a remarkable story. What strength and what inspiration Fleming must have been to all whom her life touched.
    Like you said, even though I know she will be sadly missed by her family and many friends, I also know that she is far more alive today than in the restrictions her body provided.
    My thoughts are with you today Saturday as you celebrate the life of Fleming JoAnna..
    many thanks for sharing this story and my heart and thoughts are with you this day

  3. Such a wonderful tribute to your dear friend who’s spirit lives on. You’e so right, it is not final. At least it does not have to be final. I wish you comfort from all the memories.

  4. Fleming sounds like a beautiful person. Thank you for sharing this.

  5. I am sorry for the loss of your friend. This was a nice tribute to her and to the values she embraced.

    • Thank you, Dan. Another thing I didn’t mention was that I never heard her complain. There’s a lot I want to remember about Fleming to be inspired by her example. Though I’m sure I will continue to complain occasionally.

  6. How wonderful Fleming’s parents never gave up for finding the help that their daughter needed. Through all the adversity she was challenged with from the beginning, her spirit stayed strong. I’m glad you and she became friends, and I send peaceful thoughts at this time of sorrow.

    • Thank you for those peaceful thoughts. I’m feeling them. She was one of the first babies to survive spina bifida at that level of severity.

  7. Thanks for sharing this FABulous story of the miraculous 51 years of Fleming’s life. Prayer from a sincere heart – that of Fleming’s two brothers when she was a baby – can defy our medical prognosis.

    May your dear friend rest in peace ❤

    • Thank you, Rosaliene. In the eulogy, her brother shared that Fleming told him not to feel bad that his prayers for her complete healing (to be able to walk, run, and play like them) were not answered because she didn’t miss those things since she never had those abilities. She loved her life and her friends. I know she is at peace. ❤

    • Thank you, Ka. I’m blessed that she touched my life.

      • I can relate in the sense that I have a sister with spina bifida who is in her 50s now and she’s amazing and an inspiring soul. She continues to amaze me. I’ve met so many people along my path: yourself included. Each person who touches our lives in such a way, we are fortunate enough to call friends is unique and a total blessing. Here’s to your dear friend Fleming who shared far beyond her “expected” capacity. Much Love to you! May we all exceed the expectations and limits that are placed on our earthly experiences by others, ourselves or perceived circumstances. Your friend continues to live on. I feel her. Bless you and her. 🤗

  8. What a sweet story of Fleming.

  9. I absolutely love that Facebook profile picture. Your memories of Fleming live on — it sounds like you were both pretty lucky to have found friendship together. I hope you found a measure of peace today. 💛

  10. beautiful Fleming story, JoAnna!
    as a vegetable
    i’ve managed to
    live longer 🙂

  11. Such a great person! Thanks for sharing her story.

  12. Great touching story of a life well lived. 🙂

  13. So great to hear that Fleming overcame those doctors dire predictions. Imagine her parents leaving her at the hospital and then they call a couple of weeks later? ‘oh, btw, she is still alive and you can take her home.’

  14. What a beautiful tribute to your friend. Such a story. Makes us stop feeling sorry for ourselves! To overcome such odds. Miracles do happen.

  15. Well I love this. I have a friend with spina-bifida and he is … 44 🙂 His life isn’t without challenges and scary times and whatnot, but he has definitely been LIVING the whole time. He’s had quite a life.
    I’m sorry for the loss of Fleming, but I’m sure she’s glad to be in spirit, freed from her body.

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