Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Celebration of Overcoming

My sister Randi is one of my heroes. I've known her since she was born, and almost from that moment I have watched her overcome challenge after challenge that I can't even imagine having to face, mostly having to do with her health. Sometimes I really can't help but wonder why it is that she has had so many mountains to climb while I stroll along in a comparative flower-strewn meadow. But it does no good to wonder. Life is what it is. I have my own path to navigate and she has hers. She would not want me to call attention to her triumphs, but the fact is, they are many.

She gets around in a wheelchair because her legs retired from service when she was a teenager. We still don't really know why (truly-all the doctors on her case at Johns Hopkins University Hospital never did come up with a diagnosis), but it's some sort of neuro-muscular condition that is not treatable. She also has Rheumatoid Arthritis. And some other things.

But, more importantly, she has a life. In her mind, it's just an ordinary life, but with apologies to her sensibilities, I have to say that she can never be called ordinary. It's that degree of difficulty thing. Like divers in the Olympics. Ordinary for her means amazing in my mind. Just imagine for a moment something simple like, let's say, making a box of macaroni and cheese. Except while sitting down. Permanently and with no option to get up. See? Amazing. And yet so normal.

So, from this life of hers, here are a few relevant highlights: She has always been an awesome auntie to all the kids in our family. See? They adore her, even when they're big.

She went to college. First community college, then all the way out to Arizona to live alone and get a teaching degree from Arizona State. Then she got married. Then she had a baby. You might think it's just fine to to sit all through a pregnancy, but it's actually really hard. But then she decided it wasn't that hard and had another baby. Except that time it was TWO. Yes, a woman in a wheelchair with a three-year old, by no planning or intervention, was given TWINS to raise. Look how great they are!

So there you go. Three little boys. Moving around the country with her husband's job. Not really living close to family. More health problems. Callings in church. Job changes. So yes, on the one hand, her life is ordinary in lots of ways. These are things that we all cope with. But for her, literally getting out of bed every day is pretty much a win. She's in pain a lot of the time. She has no use of her legs and her arms don't have 100% of their strength and they don't get stronger with use. Now add in the fact that every member of her little family also has some sort of health issue ranging from ADD to Type 1 Diabetes, and the amazing should start to kick in a bit.

So, to be able to gather with her a couple of weekends ago for a simple family occasion, the birthday party and baptism of those very twins, was just wonderful. It's made me feel such deep gratitude to see the friends she's made and the talents she's magnified. She has created a happy place for herself in her little hometown and I loved watching her move comfortably and confidently among the people who love her and her crazy-fun little troop of small people.

Because I view the world through the lens of my camera, of course there were photos. It was important to me that this moment be captured. This is the last of the baptisms for her children. It's a milestone. Her oldest is almost 12. Things will change lots in the next few years. I really wanted to make a portrait of their family for right now. I'm really happy with what we were able to do in the several, approximately 42 second-long windows of opportunity for photos afforded by the moods and mischief of 3 young boys. We told their story and I'm glad.

So, Hurrah for my sister. One of the best people I know. God bless her and her family.


  1. wonderful tribute to your sister. thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. I have had the privilege of getting to know Randi and she is a very amazing woman.

  3. Sweet post. I love the pictures.


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