Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Miami Gardens woman, 59, dies after decades in coma

Edwarda O'Bara, who spent more than four decades in a coma in her Miami Gardens home, always cared for by her mother, then by her sister, and who inspired a book and garnered a devoted following across the globe, has died. She was 59.

She died Wednesday morning, her family said, five years after the death of her mother, who had remained at Edwarda's side since she slipped into a coma.

"I think my mother said, 'Come on, let's go,' " sister Colleen O'Bara said.

Edwarda O'Bara was a teenage high school student who wanted to be a pediatrician when in 1970 she fell ill, throwing up her diabetic medicine.

Her family rushed her to the hospital, where she slipped into a diabetic coma. Before losing consciousness, Edwarda asked her mother, Kaye O'Bara, to never leave her side.

Kaye O'Bara promised, and kept her word.

Edwarda returned to the family's Miami Gardens home, and her family never left her side. She was turned every two hours to keep away bedsores, given insulin and fed through a tube.

She was read to, had music played for her, and constantly had company.

Her father, Joe O'Bara, died in 1976. After his death, Kaye O'Bara continued to care for Edwarda, always saying she was a blessing, not a burden, no matter the piling debts and difficulties.

A devout Catholic, O'Bara said she had felt the presence of the Virgin Mary in Edwarda's bedroom.

It inspired author Dr. Wayne Dyer to write the book A Promise Is A Promise: An Almost Unbelievable Story of a Mother's Unconditional Love and What It Can Teach Us.

And visitors from across the world traveled to the Miami Gardens home, every year, sometimes appearing at the doorstep on random days, other times for Edwarda's yearly birthday party, a boisterous affair with decorations, balloons and cake.

"I had to learn you let strangers in," Colleen O'Bara said, "because they aren't strangers."

Through it all, Edwarda remained in a coma. But to her family and followers she remained vibrantly alive. Colleen O'Bara described her as "the best sister in the whole wide world."

"She taught me so much, and I'm talking about now, after she was in the coma," Colleen O'Bara said. "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."

Her mother kept her promise, right up to her death in 2008. Kaye O'Bara, 80, died in her sleep, in the same room she had shared with Edwarda since 1970.

Afterward, Colleen took over, quitting her job as a horse trainer.

"I didn't give it a second thought. She's my sister," Colleen O'Bara said, "and I love her."

On Wednesday morning, Colleen O'Bara told her sister she was going to get a cup of coffee and be right back.

Edwarda responded with the biggest smile, Colleen O'Bara said.

Colleen got her coffee, came back to the room and gave her sister a shake, but Edwarda didn't wake up.

Edwarda O'Bara is survived by her sister, nephew Richard O'Bara and great-nephew Joseph Michael O'Bara, who all stayed with her in the home.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to help pay for the funeral. Donations can be sent to the Edwarda O'Bara Fund, P.O. Box 693482 Miami, Fla. 33269.

Miami Gardens woman, 59, dies after decades in coma 11/23/12 [Last modified: Friday, November 23, 2012 8:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. PolitiFact Florida: Claim that 5.7 million noncitizens voted is wrong

    State Roundup

    President Donald Trump's unfounded allegations that millions voted illegally in 2016 is back in the news, with his supporters pointing to a new analysis that claims millions of undocumented immigrants voted in 2008.

    Instances of noncitizens voting have been reported, but evidence points to a small number among millions of votes cast.  
  2. For Fourth of July, an American feast inspired by founding father Alexander Hamilton


    Are there a million things you haven't done? Is one of them throwing a patriotic party inspired by one of the founding fathers?

    Caribbean Pork With Potato Salad makes for the perfect Fourth of July meal.
  3. 'Baby Driver' literally turns heist movie genre on its ear, set to slick soundtrack


    Buckle up for Baby Driver, a movie so full throttle cool that you want to fist bump the screen. Style is the substance of Edgar Wright's inventive heist flick, a fresh, masterful synching of music and getaway mayhem, as if La La Land's traffic jam was moving, armed and dangerous.

    Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver for heist arranger Doc (Kevin Spacey). Plagued by tinnitus, Baby tunes out his distracting “hum in the drum” by listening to music while he drives.
Sony Pictures
  4. Former mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor
  5. Life after HB7069 to be discussed at Pinellas school district workshop


    The Pinellas County school district is still trying to navigate life after the controversial passage of HB7069.