Another thread brought this to mind. When you are with your family - share your memories and let the laughter flow. You never know who may be listening. Before a drunk driver hit my spouse and caused massive head injuries, a careless driver hit a dearly loved cousin and caused extensive physical and mental injuries. The cousin's injuries were far more severe and in many ways are perhaps more cruel. My spouse lost most of his memory of his past, so he doesn't live with that "what I used to be" memory. My cousin is aware of what she lost. She was a beautiful, popular, vibrant, brilliant woman who moved in very sophisticated circles, and who worked for a very prominent attorney. She became mentally disabled and physically disabled. Unable to work. Doing things like rolling car windows up on her hand and not being able to figure out why it hurt or how to make it stop hurting. Her husband left her, her friends abandoned her. Her accident was caused when she was stopped at a red light in Houston, Texas a utility company's "cherry picker" behind her failed to stop and hit her, shoving her into the Houston traffic. The law firm she worked for brought a law suit on her behalf and she ended up with enough money to support herself, her threapy and her children. Her medications caused massive weight gain, her injuries, even with medication, caused chronic pain. Her hair turned prematurely gray. Her life became, for the most part, therapy, Sunday Morning Church, and existing. She had no friends. No energy and she was terrified of offending people or embarrassing her children. She had lost her faith in people too. People she had expected to love her no matter what had abandoned her. She didn't allow herself to develop emotional ties. I didn't get to see her for a few years because of my spouse's issues, but we kept in touch as best we could, and then I made up my mind I would see her during a trip near her I had to make. We sat and laughed and remembered the past. Her children were teenagers and kept creeping closer and closer and then finally joined us. When I left they followed me to the car, hugged me, and started crying, thanking me for showing them their real mother. The reaction from them stunned me, so I urged them to go with me to grab more coffee so we could talk without their mother present. They shared that in their life they saw and heard many, many people talk down about their mother. Their father, his new wife, their aunt, some of the parents of their friends. They loved their mother, and were proud of her because they saw her struggle to survive and the hard work it took for her to continue to care for them in her condition, but they had an image of her that was created by her phsycial state. They were never sure what they could and couldn't ask her advice about. Amy was a young woman who was beautiful and pursued by men for right and wrong reasons. She needed a woman to go to for advice, but wasn't sure how much her mother understood of those things. She told me after hearing us talk about how her mother met her father, how her father pursued her mother, how her mother dealt with a jerk who was fresh - she knew she could talk to her mother. They shared that they had not seen her laugh in years, had never heard anyone talk of the days when her life had been so full and somewhat exciting. They said that now she is so shy that they had not realized, until they heard us talking, how much of her brilliant mind and vibrant personality is still inside of her. They said that they saw, that night, the mother they "remembered in dreams" and thought they'd lost forever. I wasn't sure what to say. I didn't know if what we saw that night was a few flickering moments of life that would be gone in a few days or what. I told them to call me whenever they needed to, and told them I would do my best to call their mother often. The kids made it their personal mission to keep that part of their mother on the surface. Amy made her get her hair fixed again. They started playing board games with her, trivia from the era when she was young. They encouraged her to invite friends from church to the house. They had not brought their own friends home much before, thinking it was a strain on her. They started doing that though. Amy shared that she and her brother learned that her mother was not trying as hard at her therapy because she had begun to feel hopeless, and they pushed her to keep trying pointing out to her that if she could remember the past she could recreate bits of it. Today Amy is a married mother and Ben is a soldier who just returned to Iraq after a visit to his Mom. Amy credits her mother with keeping her from marrying the wrong man when Amy thought she was in love with a guy who it turns out just wanted the money Amy would inherit from her mother. (Yes the settlement was that large). Amy and I both credit God with showing Amy that she could go to her mother for help in such times. Their mother has a job again, and she has her own friends now. She is a Sunday School teacher and is active in the music program of her church. If you met her you would see someone a lot closer to the woman I went to college with than to the girl who rolls car windows up on her hands. I look back though, amazed at God. We were just two relatives sharing happy memories that God nudged us to share. God fixed it so Amy and Ben were listening in, they both had plans that had fallen through at the last moment. God had to have been the one to whisper in the kids' ear that their Mom was still inside and they just had to help her find herself. God gave the kids the strength to lead their mother when she needed someone to lean on and no one else saw how much she needed it.