Legacy of Love and Pain

A month after the attack, the long hours at the hospital are taking a toll. Each visit, Tate wears a little less makeup, and the bags under her eyes are a little puffier. She's looking thinner.

As a Christian, she struggles with thoughts of revenge and loathing for the man who set her daughter on fire. It's the greatest anger she has known.

"Part of me wants to wring his neck," she says. "I want him to know what my daughter and those children feel.

"My faith is being tested to the max. I thought I was a really strong person, but I'm being put to the test."

This is her biggest trial since she contemplated suicide in the early 1970s as she suffered in her abusive marriage. Back then she grabbed her pistol, went into the bathroom, looked in the mirror and thought how easy it would be.

The first night after she saw her daughter in the hospital, Tate thought about suicide again. She was weary. But she reminded herself through prayer that God wouldn't let her down.

She takes solace in knowing that Hudson's surgeries are going well. She focuses her attention on getting her grandchildren out of CPS custody.

The four youngest -- three girls and a boy -- were taken into custody on the day of the attack because no relatives could house them. Their names and faces can't be published while they are in CPS custody.

Tate was camped out at the hospital, not knowing whether her daughter would make it through the night. Angel was able to go home with a family member.

Three relatives are requesting custody of the four youngest: Keeper Hudson's mother, his sister and Tate's sister, Marie Green. Tate is praying they'll go to her sister.

Tate is on disability leave from her job as a clerk at Continental Airlines because of a herniated disc. So the former health-care worker has time to support her daughter and work on getting the grandchildren out of foster care.

After her day-long hospital visits, she retires to her North Houston home to fill out 40 pages of Social Security forms for her daughter. There are also Medicaid and Crime Victims Compensation forms. Tate returns friends' and well-wishers' phone calls, further draining her.

Exhausted, she prays for guidance. She cries herself to sleep, only to wake up several times a night in a panic.

She's turned to an old friend to help her through this time.

The red wooden tambourine may be old and beat up. The bottom fell out long ago. But it's like a family member.

Tate's three girls used to play with it and take it to church when they were young. It infused life into many hymns.

She hasn't had time to attend services at Christ Temple Apostolic Church, so she brings the services home. When the moment is right, she sings to the Lord in her living room, to the beat of the old tambourine.

"When you have a personal experience with (God), you never forget that," she says. "You get joy out of praising God, and you don't feel embarrassed. All the burdens go away.

"Others go out and party. Well, I party with Jesus, and this is my dance floor."