Memory Faith McAdams, a remarkable, inspiring person beloved by so many, passed away in her sleep June 29 in her home in Ventura. She was the daughter of Yonica McLaren and Brian McAdams.
Memory was born March 13, 1969 in Laguna Beach, but grew up in Santa Barbara. She was a bright, extremely popular student, graduating from Roosevelt Elementary, La Cumbre Junior High and San Marcos High School. Her athletic prowess included swimming, surfing, skiing, track and field and especially volleyball, where she was a star of the powerful San Marcos team. Memory’s natural beauty enabled her to serve as a model for several beach and lifestyle companies in Santa Barbara.
At age 19, Memory enrolled at San Diego State University, majoring in sports medicine with a goal of becoming a physical therapist and athletic trainer. She was invited to contend for a spot on the Aztecs women’s varsity volleyball team, but declined, preferring to devote her attention to her studies and assorted activities she engaged in.
On June 26, 1989, just 20 years old, Memory’s life changed forever. She was traveling home on Pacific Coast Highway to visit when she was struck head-on by a driver who had veered across the center line. A desperate battle ensued to save her life. She was extracted via the Jaws of Life and helicoptered to the trauma center at St. John’s Hospital in Oxnard. Doctors warned her parents that she would have to be extremely fortunate to survive — but Memory refused to give up and clung to her life in a deep coma for 2 1/2 months before miraculously showing signs of awakening.
This was the beginning of her new life. Memory survived, but her body was broken and she had suffered a major brain injury. She had to relearn how to walk and talk — her brain did not remember how to do these most basic things. Eventually Memory was transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute at Santa Barbara, where, with their incredible care, she continued to make slow but steady progress. After that she moved on to Solutions, a transitional living center, to continue her therapies. She became active with Jodi House, an organization created to help brain injury survivors and their families adapt to their new lives, and found her 10 year interaction there most enriching.
The following years were extremely tough as Memory’s old life receded beyond reach and she could not find a path to a fulfilling new one. This changed in 2005 when she moved to Ventura into the home and care of her uncle and aunt, David and Terryle Wilk.
Memory enrolled at Ventura College and took classes through its Educational Assistance Center. This special attention allowed her to thrive and gain a new sense of self-esteem. When she had completed all the classes offered by EAC, she signed on as a volunteer student assistant to help others who needed it.
Most importantly, Memory discovered the Brain Injury Center of Ventura County where she met many other survivors and forged deep friendships that would last the rest of her life. Memory became known for her friendly spirit and consideration for others. She made every new survivor feel they had a home in the group and a friend in need.
Memory became a leader of the Brain Injury Center, participating in all of its educational, social and community service activities. She spent hours on the phone every night talking with other survivors, making sure they were doing OK and reminding them about weekly BIC activities.
Her own ability to remember was almost completely destroyed by the brain injury. Memory used to tell people “My name is Memory, but that doesn’t mean I have one.” She will be remembered for her robust sense of humor and a gigantic heart brimming with love for her family, friends and anyone else who needed some.
She is survived by her mother, Yonica; father and stepmother, Brian and Jonni; her grandmother, Elaine McAdams; sisters, Julia Hope McAdams and Lindsay Johnson; her uncle Dave and aunt Terryle; her aunt Barbara Menne; her cousins Travis Hutchison, Fiona Clark and Tory Menne, and her boyfriend, Jonathan Davies…as well as many more in her extended family who loved her dearly.
A Celebration of Memory’s Life will be held July 26 at noon at Lion’s Club Park in Carpinteria. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations to the Brain Injury Center of Ventura or Jody House of Santa Barbara.