January Mom of the Month: Judy Bryant

By  | 

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - When a loved one passes away, the one thing people always want is more time with them. One more hug, one more kiss, one more time to say "I love you."

One local mom says God gave her children and grandchildren that gift and so much more.

August 26th is a day Judy Bryant doesn't remember, but it's a day her family will never forget.

She was a realtor checking out a Greenville home for her client. The home was still under construction.

"Normally I don't go to any houses by myself," Judy says. She tells WITN she also never climbs stairs that are not completed, but for some reason, she believes she did that day.

Her family says it appears she fell down a flight of stairs that were not complete, hitting her head on the concrete.

Judy would lay there for 24 hours.

Her son, Bill, says he was notified by Judy's church that she didn't show up to service the next morning. That's when he started sounding the alarm to their family.

"He said she didn't show up for church and I dropped," says Tammy McLamb, Judy's daughter. "With her role in the church, I knew if she missed church something was wrong."

Bill called his son, Christopher, and told him to go to Judy's house.

"Searched the house, no Grandma, no car," the grandson remembers.

But that's when he remembered how to find her. Christopher used to live with Judy and they shared their locations with each other on their phones through the "Find My Friends" app.

"At the bottom of the steps, I found Mom laying there, all she could do is moan, she couldn't speak, blood around her head," Bill remembers.

He says his mother was covered in about a thousand fire ant bites, had five brain bleeds, broken clavicle and ribs, and a spinal fracture.

Bill says he vividly remembers what the doctors told the family. "They said unfortunately with your mom's injuries, she has a zero percent chance of survival."

After a few days without improvement, the family made the toughest decision of their lives to honor Judy's Do Not Resuscitate order.

"It was the hardest thing I've ever been through," says granddaughter Kasey McLamb, who never left her grandmother's side at the hospital.

Judy was taken off life support and moved to hospice care.

"We just held each other and cried, and that's when we decided to let her go," Tammy says.

Judy would show some signs of life, which the family was told is common, but that also meant Judy would pass away soon.

They remember her skin looking gray and Judy was only taking about two breaths per minute.

But then Judy started defying all odds and continued showing signs that she wasn't done fighting.

"It's nothing that I remember except praying," Judy explains. "I ask God, 'I'm yours, I'm ready for whatever your will will be, but my children still need me.' Well, here I am."

"She just woke up," Bill explains. "She started moving a toe, she went from moving a toe to moving a leg, from moving a leg to a moan."

Judy's hospice doctor, Qing Cao, says she's never seen anything like it in her career.

"I feel like it's a miracle," Dr. Cao says. "By the standard medical book, yes, she was not expected to survive, especially this level of activity, of quality of life."

The family says they can't thank Dr. Cao and a couple nurses enough for fighting for their mom to get her back into the hospital.

When they did, Bill says it had been ten days since the accident where Judy had no food or water. While they expected to see at that point to see signs of organ failure or other problems, Bill says Judy's labs were perfect.

Bill says, "I asked the ICU doctor how this was possible and he looked dead at me and said, 'I honestly don't know.'"

Judy was soon flown to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, a renowned hospital for brain injuries, where Judy began intense treatment, her family still by her side.

Dr. Cao says Judy's recovery is remarkable for how severe her injuries were. She credits Judy's determination, the strong family support system, and each medical team for getting Judy back on her feet.

Nearly four months after her fall and three days before turning 70, Judy came home.

"She was able to spend her birthday and Christmas with her family and grandkids," Bill says.

Her cake was Super Woman themed and Judy donned a crown.

Bill and his fiance have moved in with Judy to help with her continued recovery. And while she may sometimes work to keep her balance, it's clear she's never without a hand to hold on to.

"She's the glue of this family," Kasey says. "She's taught me to be a better person."

"She's my best friend," says Christopher.

Judy thanks God for this unexplained second chance at life, but maybe this miracle really is as simple as, "She was an angel here on Earth and God wasn't ready to take her yet," Tammy says.

Bill agrees, saying, "She has more to do and more to give. She's very active in her church, she feeds the homeless shelter."

"She allowed a homeless person to live in her house while she was in Atlanta," Christopher says, referencing Judy's time at rehab.

Tammy remembers her mother always giving to others. "She would take in children, she would help... she heard me talking about a family that I knew that was in a very bad place financially and she bought them Christmas. They never even met her."

"You know, there are so many people out there that people don't even care about," Judy says. "And I think we have to show that we care. It's our place to show that we care."

Each Mom of the Month is awarded $250 from Ricci Law Firm, and a new mom is announced every third Monday of the month.