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Byline: Maya Bell
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. _Today is a lavender day. Edwarda O'Bara's nightgown, the ribbons in her braided hair, the sheets on her bed, are all matching hues of lilac.
For 35 years, she has lain in the same bed, locked in the same void, but her surroundings are cheerful, a palette of pastels, an oasis of warmth. Other than her prone figure and the pill bottles nearby, there is very little in the room to suggest "hospital."
Her mother won't have it. If nurses show up in white, Kaye O'Bara hands them a colored smock. The retired teacher has banished negativity from her house, just as she has banished the words her daughter's doctor uses to describe Edwarda's condition: vegetative state.
"Show me a tomato that smiles," O'Bara says, shifting the pillows that support her firstborn. "Is that it, angel dumpling? You want to turn?"
O'Bara believes Edwarda is aware and communicative, expressing herself the only way she can:
With eye blinks and hand squeezes, murmurs and moans, smiles and yawns _ movements and sounds that neurologists say are common involuntary responses in people whose primitive brain stems work but whose higher brains do not.
O'Bara has had the burden _ she says honor _ of tending to her daughter's every need almost every hour of every day since May 31, 1970. That's when, five months after slipping into a diabetic coma, 16-year-old Edwarda came home from the hospital in what doctors term a vegetative state.
For the first …