Friday, September 29, 2023

Windham resident's accident leads to children's book

By Kaysa Jalbert

Rosemary Ramsdell was driving on Route 302 on a sunny day in October 2016 on her way to North Conway to meet a friend and do some shopping in the area. Only one month into her retirement, Ramsdell said to herself on the drive, “It’s a gorgeous day and I am free.”

Rosemary Ramsdell of Windham survived a devastating 
accident and was helped by a therapy cat named Andy,
who became the subject of a children's book she wrote
called 'Andy The Kitten's Forever Home.'
As she approached the town line with Raymond, trucks took up half the road as workers in lifts cut down trees, meaning only one lane of traffic was able to pass at a time. The traffic flagger held up the slow sign as everyone began slowing down, including Ramsdell who was keeping her distance from the large van in front of her that had, what she described as, a large thick object like a rolled-up carpet, sticking out of the back. She recalls watching the van and thinking to herself, “It would be awful if I went right into that” and proceeded to stay several feet back.

It was only seconds later that she was struck from behind by a speeding driver, her car being pushed forcefully into the van in front of her. Her body had missed the large thick object she had worried so much about, but that doesn’t mean Rosemary’s life wasn’t about to change forever.

“I am not the person that I was before,” says Ramsdell who suffered a traumatic brain injury and PTSD when her head went back and forth so forcefully in the accident that it caused her brain to hit her skull, damaging her frontal lobe.

Seven years later, Rosemary Ramsdell, also known as Rosie, is the author of her first book "Andy The Kitten’s Forever Home," a story told by her ragdoll cat Andy who accompanied and comforted Ramsdell during her toughest times of recovery.

“I was very lonely, living a very lonely sad life and I couldn’t sleep at night. It was like climbing a mountain and walking around with a black cloud on top of your head,” Ramsdell said. “I never smiled. Andy brought my smile back. He was so funny, and he would cuddle with me, and I would talk to him. He always slept with me and even now when I can’t sleep, I just listen carefully to his purring, and it puts me right to sleep.”

It wasn’t until six days after the accident when Ramsdell realized that something was wrong. She was at her daughter’s house babysitting her three grandsons when a wave sickness took over. It was in that moment, she said, things started to go bad. 

The damage to her brain from the accident caused Ramsdell to lose much of her basic abilities taught in school as a child, such as reciting the alphabet, how to count, the ability to spell and do simple math. It also threw off her balance and peripheral vision, her speech, motor skills, and memory were all affected.

She spent the next 10 months in rehabilitation, working with a team of therapists when one day, as Ramsdell was at home with Andy, she picked up a pen and a note pad and started writing about her ragdoll's life.

“It just happened. I can’t tell you how it happened because it just happened,” said Ramsdell. “I didn’t even start on a computer because I didn’t know how to use one. I taught myself Word and it just started to flow because it was something very dear to my heart.”

It was in 2018 when Ramsdell adopted Andy and it wasn’t fate that had brought them together. She had a ragdoll for most of her life prior and felt it was exactly what she needed in her new life living with TBI. She had found Andy at Paws and Claws in Windham amongst his four sisters.

“My life was so small it was a miracle that I found him, and he has just become such a good part of my life,” says Ramsdell. “Being able to write has been a gift and Andy is my inspiration.”

The book "Andy The Kitten’s Forever Home" and Rosemary’s story has served as an inspiration for others who struggle with Traumatic Brain Injuries and PTSD. Ramsdell says many of the people who reach out to her have been veterans and she has since encouraged others to get pets to help them deal with PSTD and brain trauma.

She is now working on her second book that will feature her other furry friend, Cali, and talk about a pet’s life during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rosemary Ramsdell came to the United States when she was 23 from Scotland and has lived in Maine since. She is a mother and a grandmother and has been married to her husband Alan for 33 years who she says has been her rock throughout her recovery and she is so grateful for her family. <

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