More Than You Can See – A Mother’s Memoir
December 1, 2022
4 PM PST | 5 PM MST | 6 PM CST | 7 PM EST
At the age of seventeen, my daughter, Jenn was in a horrific car accident and sustained a traumatic brain injury. Once she awakened from a two-week coma, a unique disability presented itself; Jennifer lacked any method of communication.
This beautiful story deserved to be told because it has the possibility of helping others. Unfortunately, just as our family had to navigate through the quagmire of brain injury, many tens of thousands of people throughout the world suffer a similar fate every year. By writing my book, I hope to expand the awareness of this type of injury and the ramifications it has on not only the survivors but their families, friends, and communities.
Jenn’s unique disability of not being able to communicate added more complexities to her rehab and gave an interesting twist to the story. Not falling within the realm of what service providers usually saw in their clients called for creative thinking for them to know how to treat her. Our family and her caregivers were also challenged to find ways for her to connect with us as we helped her relearn basic life skills. There was no script on how to do this; it was a matter of trial and error. As her mother, I made it my mission to rebuild a life for Jenn that was interesting and filled with people and adventure. In doing so, I enabled all of us to move well beyond the normal routines of caring for someone. We were amply rewarded for our efforts by seeing Jenn’s smiling face as she found a way, without words, to touch the hearts many people who came to know and love her.
Writing the story required me to reflect more deeply on Jenn’s capabilities in ways that were not evident to me before. I was blinded by the drive to recapture my original daughter and unable to see the amazing survivor who stood before me as a loving, fun, and engaging person even with her many limitations.
My story is an enrapturing tale of a mother, daughter, and family as they deal with a debilitating injury through love, laughter, and creative thinking. It was written to help others who know a family member, friend, or someone in their workplace, school, or community who may be struggling with special needs because of an injury, illness, aging, or developmental disabilities. It should also be inspiring for caregivers who are looking for new ways to inject energy and joy into the daily routines of their clients.
I came from a family of storytellers who could take a harrowing experience and over time give it fresh life with a comical slant making it a cherished tale to be retold at future gatherings. I reflected on those childhood memories when writing my memoir making sure the reader laughed (and cried) through each chapter. I wouldn’t have written the book if I couldn’t add humor to provide balance for the sad parts.
In writing the story, I interviewed the main characters and learned more about my daughter’s connection to them. Once I had this added information, I could give readers anecdotal scenes, letting them step into Jenn’s life with her caregivers and their families. I tried to present my information as a friend telling a story rather than simply chronicling a sequence of events happening over time. Each scene in the book had purpose in either developing Jenn’s personality and that of the other characters or showing another aspect to her creative caregiving. Interwoven throughout the pages were commentaries on the public’s tolerance (or lack of) to her behaviors, and the legal battles that are also part of the story.
Writing the book, going through the editing process, having it published, and now sharing it with the world has been a great learning experience. I was a green newbie to the industry and now have a much greater appreciation of authors and the work that goes into their books. But the most important aspect of writing this memoir was giving me the opportunity to reflect on Jenn and the lessons she had to teach me. I am grateful to now share those valuable lessons with my readers.
Members will gain/learn from my presentation:
- Members will learn my thoughts on balancing joy and sorrow in telling my story.
- They will come to understand the ramifications a traumatic injury has on a family as well as the survivor and hear a few of the lessons I learned about tolerance, kindness, and the role humor plays in healing.
- They will hear about the driving force I had to recapture my original daughter.
- They will come to appreciate the unique caregiving required to treat and rebuild a life for my daughter.
- Members will understand the purpose for writing my book, and why it is important to share my story with readers everywhere.
Barbara Rubin writes this story of joy and sorrow mixed with humor and rage as both mother and advocate for her injured daughter, Jenn. Emotionally invested in this narrative, she had the advantage to write in raw detail about the triumphs and heartbreaks that follow her main character. She witnessed first-hand the battles that come when a person is the most vulnerable, but also saw the gift of human kindness and the difference it can make in another person’s life. She lived the story; it was hers to tell. Barbara hopes that her journey, lived through her daughter’s injury, will help others understand the lessons that can be learned from tolerance and gives hope to families whose path has also been darkened by tragedy.