Frannie and Herb Browne have a theme song: Accentuate the Positive, by the Andrews Sisters. “Life isn’t all good,” Frannie observes. “But you can always find something good.” That mindset helps the couple thrive.
The Brownes don’t know when they first met. “I knew Herb’s first wife, and my first husband and Herb were acquaintances. But we didn’t know a lot about one another - I just knew he was a lawyer and a tennis player.”
Herb’s first wife died in 2002, and Frannie’s husband in 2005. Sometime later, Herb saw Frannie at a reception and invited her to dinner. She remembers, “In my 70s, it didn’t occur to me that I’d marry again. But then I met Herb.” They’ve been married 16 years.
The newlyweds traveled the world. And Herb continued to play tennis.
“Tennis has always been an important part of my life” Herb recalls. “I won some tournaments in high school and a tennis scholarship to Carolina.” The N.C. Tennis Hall of Famer is humble. “But the players today – boy, they can hit the ball!”
Herb’s father had Alzheimer’s disease and Herb wondered whether he would develop it. He volunteered for a research study at Duke Medical Center 10 years ago, before showing any signs of the disease. Herb explains, “I knew the study may not help in my lifetime, but it could help others.” Today, he’s experiencing some memory loss.
But tennis helps. At 90, he plays several times a week. “Playing maintains my strength and my friendships.” Frannie is completely supportive. “Social connections are important. Our families are a big part of both our lives. We love seeing four generations growing and accomplishing so many goals. We’re also in a book club that’s been running for 40 years. Bonds run deep among the members.”
And she smiles. “Memory & Movement Charlotte has also become a part of our lives. You don’t have to have an illness to enjoy talking with Dr. Edwards – we are so grateful for him!”
Herb and Frannie hold hands. “We just keep going on. Accentuate the positive, every day.”
A Note from Dr. Edwards
This story reinforces a major theme in our care. We focus on what is working in the lives of patients, not what is lost. Joy and purpose are possible if we look in the right place.