A remarkable story of love and devotion comes to us from Miami, Florida. Edwarda O’Bara , a lively 16-year-old high school student lapsed into a diabetic coma in January 1970 after being stricken with pneumonia. Her family explains that on the morning of January 3rd, she ’‘woke up shaking and in great pain because the oral form of insulin she had been taking wasn’t reaching her blood stream.”
The Miami Herald reports that after being rushed to the hospital, Edwarda still conscious begged her mother who was at her bedside, to promise that she would not leave her. Her mother responded, “Of course not. I would never leave you, darling.” The mother, Kaye, kept her promise and cared for Edwarda at home for 35 years until Kaye died five years ago at the age of 80.
Edwarda’s father Joe died in 1977 of a heart attack.
Caring for Edwarda involved turning her body every two hours to prevent bedsores, administering insulin and providing food through a tube. Kaye would only sleep for periods of 90 minutes at a time. Kaye was a devout Catholic. She was presented with a medal from the Catholic Church in recognition of the outstanding care she gave to her daughter. After Kaye’s death, Edwarda’s sister Colleen left her job to become Edwarda’s fulltime caregiver. Among a number of tasks to be done, her sister, Colleen, would clear Edwarda’s throat using a suction device to help her breathing. Colleen would speak to her sister. Colleen said:
“I didn’t give it a second thought. She’s my sister and I love her.”She taught me so much, and I’m talking about now, after she was in the coma. She taught me so much about unconditional love that I couldn’t say I had it before. She taught me about patience that I didn’t have before. I learned so much from taking care of my sister. It’s like I grew up overnight.”
“When I am talking to her I have her total attention, I can tell by the look in her eyes.”
Friends and family visited and entertained Edwarda through readings and music. Edwarda could open her eyes and smile. Colleen said that before she passed away Edwarda gave her “the biggest smile she has ever seen.”
Edwarda passed away at the age of 59 on Nov 21st, 2012 after 42 years in a coma.