Legacy of Love and Pain

CPS and the Houston Housing Authority save Christmas for the Hudson family, delivering clothes, toys, winter coats and shoes for the children.

Angel's birthday is strictly a family affair, with a homemade marble cake decorated with colorful stars. As Green lights the candles, the children giggle. Hudson keeps her distance from the flames, standing near the doorway.

Hudson and Tate sit down with Angel for a woman-to-woman talk. When Angel asks about dating, Tate says, "No."

Fifteen is too young, Tate and Hudson agree.

A chaperoned date, maybe.

"You're not missing anything," Tate tells her.

Angel laughs. "Really?"

They view this as a critical time to guide Angel so she won't find herself in an abusive situation, which happens more often than people think. One-third of all high school and college students will have an abusive relationship by the time they graduate.

"If she starts to date, I'm really worried about that," Hudson says.

During a pep talk, Tate tells Angel: "We can correct things if we take heed in what we've seen or experienced. Learn to love yourself. Learn to respect yourself. Use us as an example. Prosper from our mistakes. I tell you this because I love you. I don't want you to go to that valley of suffering."

Angel nods.

The road ahead is still lengthy and surely marked with bumps. But the Tates expect that. It's all they've known -- the hard life.

Hudson is waiting for crime victims compensation and Social Security disability benefits to kick in. She'll use $189 of it to pay a filing fee so that a victims advocacy group can help her file divorce papers -- to break the legal bond that connects her to Keeper Hudson. Since October, he has written 10 letters from jail to the three generations, saying they will be a family again.

Tate can attest that divorce papers don't resolve problems or negate the past. They can, however, provide the start of a new beginning.

Angel is looking ahead to the summer. She's browsing the classifieds for a job to help with money around the house and save up for a car.

No matter how Keeper Hudson's trial ends, Tate's crusade won't. She plans to become an advocate for battered women.

Hudson is working on the little things: washing dishes, folding clothes, eating and dressing herself, as much as her mobility allows. The most important thing comes before she goes to sleep.

"Every night," she says, "I pray real hard to be a mother again."