In 1995, I first heard the amazing story of a family who had been caring for their comatose daughter for 25 years. The daughter, Edwarda O’Bara, had slipped into a diabetic coma at the age of 17. Her mother, Kaye, had promised that she would not leave her daughter’s side and, true to that promise, she cared for her daughter at home until her own death five years ago. Edwarda O’Bara passed away on November 21, 2012, 42 years after becoming comatose. Edwarda’s sister Colleen called to tell me. Colleen had been lovingly caring for Edwarda since their mother’s death.
My introduction to the O’Bara family in 1995 led to a lifelong friendship with these beings of love and light. My wife Marcelene and I wrote a book called A Promise Is a Promise about the remarkable devotion of Kaye O’Bara and the lessons to be learned from her about unconditional love. “I’m doing what I think I should do,” she wrote. “All I ever wanted in life was to have two girls. God was very good and granted me my wish. So, if He gave me what I wanted, then I feel I should care for Edwarda until He is ready to either heal her, or take her to heaven.” Kaye continued to care for her daughter in all ways—with music and stories and conversation and celebration—in the hope that she was always present and aware.
The expenses for Edwarda’s care were great and fell entirely upon her family. They cared for her at home, feeding her and turning her to prevent bedsores every two hours around the clock. Dr. Louis Chaykin, I call him “a saint with a stethoscope,” donated his services in overseeing Edwarda’s care. All proceeds from my book A Promise Is a Promise go to the O’Bara family.
My family and I had wonderful times with the O’Baras as they celebrated Edwarda’s birthday each year in March. We told Oprah about Edwarda and she also came to visit the family. Edwarda and her family became a symbol of faith for many over the years. The example of the O’Baras’ unconditional love and faithfulness to a promise was always an inspiration to me. I include their story in the new book I am writing about my life lessons. My 1996 book about the family marked a turning point in my life. A Promise Is a Promise was one of my first books with Hay House and my first work entirely devoted to charity. The book is all about giving and the mantra of the highest self, “How may I serve?”
We send our love and condolences to the O’Bara family and send them heartfelt thanks for their shining example of the very best we can be in service to one another.