Peter, what you've written reminds me of my time as a young man just out of college working with severly disabled children. There was one particular boy who I cared for from the time he got home from school until another carer came to put him to bed every day for a couple of years. He had no more purposeful movement than a baby and could only communicate by the direction he pointed his eyes or by smiling to mean 'yes' to a direct question. ..and I learnt so much from him. He taught me things no fully able person could and gave me faith that people could be better than I'd ever known.
Irony is a funny thing. Now I myself am severly disabled and at the mercy of a failing body that wont always communicate or move as I want it to. I am trying to use that boy's example to try to learn to live with the grace that he does.. I'm not good at it...but y'know what? I've had people tell me I'm an inspiration to them! (and a hundred others take advantage of my vulnerability).
My point is, you WILL be a healing and inspiring presence in other people's lives by living what that beautiful woman taught you even when you don't know you are being.
...you are by telling this story. Thank you brother.
And you ARE a survivor because you are living each day with what you have...thst's all it takes.