COLUMBIA — Angela Barnes touched the uninjured part of her mother's face and said, "I'm here."
It takes little communication to tell how her mother is feeling, Barnes said, explaining that she understands "the faces of mothers."
Barnes said her mother's face was one of fear Monday morning before an attempt at surgery on her pelvis. But by the afternoon, it had relaxed into a face of calm.
Janet Barnes, 83, has been in critical condition at University Hospital since April 23, when she was hit by a car.
In addition to badly scraping half her face, the accident broke many of Janet Barnes' bones, including ones in both legs, both arms and her pelvis, according to heartspokenwords.com, the website where her daughter is posting updates. As of Monday, Janet Barnes had gone through several surgeries on her left leg, according to the site.
She was scheduled to have surgery on her pelvis Monday morning, but when her heart rate became irregular after receiving anesthesia, her doctors decided to wait a while before trying the surgery again. A second attempt is planned for Tuesday. At some point, Barnes will also have surgery on her left shin and ankle if she is stable enough, her daughter said.
Even though Barnes is still in critical condition, her daughter said she is hopeful and grateful that her mother is still here. She said she has faith in her mother's strong, independent spirit and believes she will be able to overcome her injuries.
"It is in the range of reality to expect her bones to mend," Angela Barnes said.
Janet Barnes' case is slightly complicated, however, because she is the world's longest-living person in the "incomplete" quadriplegic category, as recently named by the Guinness Book of World Records. Despite this challenge, Angela Barnes said the doctors told her that her mother is defying all odds.
"The (orthopedic) doctors basically say there's no textbook written on her," she said.
Barnes attributed her mother's fight to live to her optimistic outlook.
"Life has been a perpetual challenge (for my mother)," she said. "And, yet, you will see a smiling face."
Angela Barnes created a book last year that attempts to capture this spirit. The purpose of this book was to tell Janet Barnes' story as well as to prove that she was the longest-living quadriplegic. The book was a birthday gift from Angela Barnes to her mother.
The book is a collection of poems, pictures and quotes from Janet Barnes. Angela Barnes said she plans to print a second version of the book that includes the certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records.
"I've always said I'm the most fortunate of people," Janet Barnes said in the book. "I have enough disability to totally appreciate the ability I have. Most people don't appreciate what they get."
Her daughter said that appreciation includes the joy Janet Barnes was able to experience through having four children: Angela Barnes, Robyn Barnes, Gene Barnes and Brian Barnes.
Angela Barnes said her mother's spirit has inspired her and others to participate in "challenges" celebrating her mother's life. Through her website and Facebook events, she and her business, Heart Spoken Words, have challenged everyone to gather cards for Janet Barnes.
The goal is to gather 1,000 cards. A picture of the first card was posted on Facebook within three minutes of creating the event. Since then, Angela Barnes said, she has received so many cards that the hospital's mail room had to be notified.
She and Heart Spoken Words have also challenged people to participate in a "complaint-free diet" because she said she feels her mother "has raised the bar" on not complaining.
Angela Barnes said she hopes people inspired by her mother's story will participate in these challenges. She is also looking for people to help her keep track of the number of people who participate. To help, people can contact her on her website.
These challenges are running until May 18, when Rusk Rehabilitation Center will hold its 15th anniversary. Janet Barnes was invited as the "celebrity" and the celebration is also one of her life and legacy, Angela Barnes said.
The second version of the book printed by Heart Spoken Words will be available both at the celebration and on Angela Barnes' website.
This celebration was planned before Janet Barnes' accident and will happen regardless of her condition. Her daughter also said she is going to try to record the event and post it online so anyone who does not attend can see it.
The challenges and celebrations are meant to show Janet Barnes how much the community cares about her and is inspired by her, her daughter said.
Angela Barnes said that from a young age, her mother worried, "Would I be able to do enough to deserve the air I breathe?"
But Angela Barnes said she hopes the cards and complaint-free pledges will get rid of that fear permanently.
"How can she ever again wonder when she's seen these hearts come together?" she said.