This Is Us

   Hiyah friends - I'm Anna and this is my family, Jody (Husband), Rogan (Oldest; known as 'Roo') and Remy (Youngest; known as 'Rem-egade').

   Formally, I work as a Physician Assistant in Cardiothoracic Surgery here in Washington State. Valentine's Day 2020, I had my second baby girl, and as we know, a month later, we were in full lockdown mode from Covid. Trying to figure out ways to improve my families' immune system, I reverted back to my chemistry and biology background and built a garden.


    The sun would provide essential Vitamin D, the soil would provide essential microbes, minerals and a sense of connection. Connection to the food I was eating and the life I was choosing. Plus, growing a garden, kept my kids busy outside under all the weather conditions. It taught them how to care for living things. How to clean. How to organize. How to problem solve. 

   Returning from maternity leave, I found my patients without visitors for days on end and the hospital felt flooded with negativity - nothing that boosted the internal spirit. Heart disease is usually a very, subtle event that turns into a whirlwind of tests, procedures, pamphlets, several night stays in uncomfortable hospital beds, with well... questionable food, lots of strangers, and a Latin language hard to pronounce, let alone understand the implications of. Then, adding an uncertain pandemic, fear of thy neighbor, and absolutely NO family or friends near by, was crushing.

   There is plenty I cannot change about the hospital model, but, I knew I could help invoke an emotion, a memory, a pause for a loved one, that might bring some peace, clarity, hope and remembrance of love - through flowers.

   We live on 20 acres in Spangle, WA. At first, I would bring in wildflowers that grew on the property. The daily walks allowed us to connect, collect and learn.

    As we grew our garden, we grew ourselves and naturally, we added dahlias.

Dahlias evoked different conversations with the patients outside the monotony of "what the 2020?"

   The unknown disease process of covid, sparked some very emotional controversy and made the working environment incredibly uneasy. For the first time in my medical career, I can say I witnessed devastation. People died. A lot of people. A lot of people per shift. Family members said their 'Goodbyes' through Facetime on nurses phones. Caregivers were working on pure physical and emotional exhaustion. 

    At first, when I'd get home from work, I'd walk through the garden with the girls to wash away the day. We'd pick flowers, find frogs and laugh till it was dark. It brought about a sense of peace and comfort but quickly evolved into a beautiful parallel of the lifecycle of a flower and us as humans.

   Gardening provided the generalized pattern of tending and caring for something when it's small and unable to do so on it's own (like babies), to watch it form into these unique expressions of their zenith self, spark remembrance and love and then eventually, quality traits would immerge that reflected the time for the acceptance of death. Once an uneasy and foreign entity, now was graceful to embrace.