Patient with amnesia reunites with mother after 40 years
One morning last January, client David P., age 65, woke up in his room at Parkway Residence and said a word he’d been trying to remember for the past 40 years, "Yemassee!"
Yemassee was where he and his mother, Annie Mae, lived in South Carolina when he left home at age 17, and eventually served in the Korean War. A brain injury in the war wiped away the name of his hometown along with most of his memories from the past. He would spend the next 40 years trying to recall any information that would help him to find his mother.
David came to Special Tree in 2008 to recover from a second brain injury he experienced from a cycling accident. "I’m looking for my family," was all he could say during his first few months of treatment at NCC. A few months later, he transitioned to Parkway and joined the men’s residential peer group in the fall of 2009. That’s where he met NCC Social Worker Leslie Booker, the group’s facilitator, and asked if she would help him find his mother. She agreed, and in January their search began.
After David recalled where his mother lived, he and Leslie were able to do a Google search that turned up two Annie Maes in Yemassee, South Carolina. Leslie helped David to compose a letter but David was "nervous and scared," he said, that his mother would still be alive to read it. "I just prayed that I’d get to see her one last time."
But just days after sending the letter, David received a phone call that he will never forget. "Mom, is that you?" he said. David’s mother was still alive at age 90.
"I’ve been asking the Lord for 40 years to let me know if he was alive or dead!" said Annie Mae. She had also spent years actively looking for her son and had even hired a private detective.
David was reunited with his mother in Yemassee on April 4, 2010. Parkway Program Manager Jessica Frye and a member of her staff traveled with David for a 3-day trip where he visited with family, including his two siblings, from sun up to sun down. "He was exhausted, but so happy!" said Jessica. "The family couldn’t say enough about how grateful they were to Special Tree."