Eternally Yours

Life as Gloria Lamar knew it ended almost five years ago. But her heart beats on.

"We would have had to show that he saw the stop sign and consciously decided to blow through it," says Louth today. "There's a restaurant on the corner that prevents people from seeing oncoming traffic. And the kid was an inexperienced driver."

Neither Jourden nor Frawley were interviewed by police or investigators from the DA's office. Only one of the two callers who dialed 911 that night was contacted. No one checked into Bauman's background or spoke to his teachers and classmates at Longmont High. It would be several months before those who loved Gloria Lamar gained any understanding of who her destroyer was and what had motivated him.

The living room of Tom Hoh's rustic, lived-in house a short distance up Lefthand Canyon is adorned with several of Lamar's paintings. Her subjects are conventional but full of life, and the execution is extraordinarily skilled. In one painting, a group of horses thunders forward, churning up dust, jockeys riding low over their backs. In a scene that could easily grace a Sierra Club poster, a lioness drinks at a pool, her cub protectively sheltered between her paws. Perhaps the most striking portrait is of a young Afghan girl in a shawl, copied from the cover of a National Geographic magazine. There's an odd fierce light in her astonishingly blue eyes and her expression--the shadows under her eyes, the set of her lips--seems at once challenging and afraid.

Hoh places a tape in his player. "We made this three days before the accident," he says.

It's a cheap, karaoke recording, but the woman's voice is smoky and rich, rushing out into the small living room. "When my soul was in the lost and found," it sings, "you came along to claim it..." There's a throatiness in the low notes, sometimes almost a growl--"I never knew just what was wrong with me, till your kiss helped me name it." The voice thrills into a higher register: "You make me feel"--it fills the space, unstoppable, full of passionate life--"You make me feel"--the voice is soaring and swooping like a swallow--"You make me feel like a natural woman."

In the silence that follows, Tom shakes his head. "She was an awesome person," he says. "So many things came easy to her. I told her once, the only thing wrong with you, Gloria, is that you're always apologizing.

"She said, 'I'm sorry.'"

For three and a half years, Tom Hoh fought Gloria Lamar's coma. Every morning he came to the rehabilitation center and attempted to ferret out from the nurses and doctors how Gloria had spent the night and what had been done for her. Then he attended to her personal hygiene.

"She was incontinent," he explains. "She had diapers on. I would clean her up. Cleanse her face. Just clean her eyes out and her ears and hands. Exercise her fingers, her arms and shoulders and her neck and back, and then rotate her pelvis. Everything. Knees. Give her a foot massage. Then she was clean and relaxed, and I could start attempting communication."

Lamar had been interested in alternative medicine, and Hoh brought her blue-green algae, colloidal minerals, homeopathic treatments. He argued with the medical staff about the painkillers and muscle relaxants she was routinely given. "They put her on muscle relaxants instead of physically exercising her to keep her flexible," he says. "They would give her drugs that just zoned her out. They said, 'Well, we have to make her comfortable'--even though it dulled her brain.

"She was in there," he adds. "I made an invention to prove it."
He leaves the room for a few minutes and returns with a cardboard box that once held salt-water taffy. Coils and wires spill over its sides. He takes a rubber glove from the box and reveals the buttons stitched into a finger. "I put this on her, and I was able to teach her how to press the buttons--like a stoplight--red, orange and green for 'no,' 'I need help' and 'yes.'"

He shrugs. "It's something that could have been done for patients years and years ago, something as pathetically simple as this."

In August 1994, Lamar was transferred to the Mapleton Center for Rehabilitation in Boulder, because doctors believed she was coming out of her coma. The move was disastrous, however, and her condition worsened. She was sent to Heritage Rehabilitation in Denver.

Through her silence and immobility, through the increasing rigidity of her limbs, through whatever her state of mind might be--agitated or dreaming, grief-stricken or simply vacant--Hoh reached for her. He made tapes of music she loved, of her own singing, of the work of musician friends. He decorated her room with photographs, read old letters to her, brought her roses and gardenias, recalled for her experiences they'd shared. He took her to the zoo and to the Ice Capades. He abandoned his own work, ignoring the mounting bills. And he kept a journal in which, day by day, he recorded his impressions of her condition and the effects of his ministrations.

"I always said, 'Gloria, no matter what, you know we're connected,'" he says. "And she would grin and smile. I kept repeating that to her whenever she was...uh...troubled."

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