Courage and Grace. As I learned Kay’s story, I was continually impressed by how she exemplifies these qualities, even as she has braved an abundance of grief and pain. I am thankful to Kay’s daughter, Emily, for sharing with me the story of her selfless mother.
Kay and Norick happily married in 1982. Together they had five children: four boys and a girl. After twenty years of marriage and during some of the most vital stages of their children’s adolescence, Kay’s husband opened up to their family about his narcotic drug addiction. Facing down a grim situation, Kay made the decision to stay with her husband and support him through this trying time. Norick would often have to be away from the family for long periods of time attending rehab therapy or receiving treatments to overcome his addiction. Kay always strove to make their children’s lives normal and happy. She built her home into a safe haven.
Sadly, Kay’s family became the subject of vicious rumors. People openly ridiculed and belittled Norick for his struggles and would even scorn Kay for staying married to him. Nonetheless, Kay stood by her husband and was a steady support for him and their children. While her world may have seemed like it was crashing down, Kay stood strong, with a smile on her face, and showed her children how to face trials with grace, courage, and selfless love.
Just a few years after Norick admitted his addiction, Kay was struck with another huge bump in her happily-ever-after. Her husband of twenty-four years was tragically killed in a car accident. Kay was widowed and became a single mother of five children. She picked up the pieces of her life and continued to make her children’s lives as stable and happy as possible. Kay never put herself first, or even second. She put herself sixth. Her joy came in ensuring that her children were well-cared-for.
Two years after the accident, Kay found love again, was married, and took on the role of stepmother. She opened her heart and arms to 4 more children and has loved them as her own for the past 7 years. Three years ago, Kay entered a new and exciting stage of life; she became a devoted grandmother. Kay’s daughter Emily says, “My mother is more than a mother. She is a mother, stepmother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and anything else you need her to be. Her name should be listed in the dictionary under selfless.”
Emily refers to her mom as “the coolest mom,” as she recalls many happy memories her mother made with her and her brothers. Kay dances down grocery store aisles to whatever music is playing. She dressed up like a pirate on graduation day to deliver a present to her daughter. Once she even back-flipped off a forty-foot cliff in Hawaii, not wanting to be shown up by her sons. If it’s your birthday, you can probably expect a call from Kay’s silly alter-ego, Tina, who will sing to you.
Despite enduring more trials in just a few years than most experience in a lifetime, Kay has bravely maintained a joyful and caring presence in her children’s lives. She always puts her children first and the example she has given them is priceless. Kay is graceful, courageous, selfless, loving, kind, and fearless. But above all, Kay is a mother. And she is Beauty Revived.
Moving to a new place is never easy. Especially if you've lived in a very tight-knit community your whole life. Moving to Arizona was bitter-sweet. I had a hard time leaving my family and friends. It made it even harder that I had a two month old. But my family was headed to the next chapter in our lives and we couldn't wait to start it. Thank goodness for Allie for making the transition easier for me!
I first met Allie when she sat down next to me at church. She was new too, but I was a little timid. She immediately turned to me and said "Hi! I'm Allie!" (hey Allie, if your reading this, don't think I'm creepy that I still remember this..). I quickly learned that she just moved here as well, and her husband was also starting school. Allie was the friendliest person I had met in Arizona so far. We immediately "hit it off", for lack of better words. And even though we may not talk everyday, I feel like we've known each other forever. From our spur of the moment, late night shopping excursions to her teaching me about health foods, I love everything about her! It's also a bonus that she is so non-judgmental and let's me spill my deepest darkest secrets.
She is just as gorgeous inside as she is outside. Take a look for yourself.
My dad has a million talents and traits I wish I inherited: extreme patience (he was forced into that one with me as a teenager), compassion, hard-working, honest, reliable, out-going, intelligence, and the list could go on and on. However one trait that tops my list is his ability to arrange words to describe exactly how his soul his feeling. He is a phenomenal poet and through his words it's like you can see into his soul. Growing up my dad would write songs and poems for every occasion. In the past, my favorite song or poem he has written was Our Christmas. There are multiple verses to this song, some funny, some serious. This song is (or was) a perfect description of our little families thoughts on Christmas. I try to be like my Dad and write poems to express my feelings, but they will never trump the beauty of his words.
A couple days after Isla was born, when I was in the deepest darkest sadness I have experienced, I logged onto Facebook to find my dad's latest piece:
Isla Jean sweet Isla Jean
How you pull on my heart's string
Though I've never seen your face
Just pixels bright from a distant place
Isla Jean sweet Isla Jean
I yearn to hear your voice sing
The sound of simple infant cries
So I can sing you lullabies
Isla Jean sweet Isla Jean
What gifts from heaven do you bring?
Mere moments from our Fathers home
You bring to us His love bestowed
Isla Jean sweet Isla Jean
To hold you close is what I dream
l cannot wait to feel your charm
All snuggled in your grandpa's arms
My brothers. And the desert. And my camera.
The Desert. When I first moved to Arizona I got a little depressed. Not just because I moved away from family (don't worry, family, I love and miss you), but mainly because I didn't think it was aesthetically pleasing. I laugh just typing that out. I was literally sad because I had moved to a place the my eyes didn't like. It also seems extremely ungrateful. There were so many wonderful reasons for why I was moving to Arizona and I couldn't get around my disgust for dirt, rocks and skimpy trees. It probably didn't help that I moved from the eastern benches of the Salt Lake valley. It was there that I was surrounded by lush trees and abundantly colorful flowers. There were rivers and streams and beautiful, shaded, hiking trails within a 10 minute drive. The summers were full of outdoor barbecues and popsicles and the falls consisted of colorful trees, crisp air, and wonderful smells (I love the smell of dead leaves). Then there was winter, which wasn't always fun, but if you glanced up at Mount Olympus after a snow storm you'd be in awe of the majestic beauty. But then, after a couple of months, the tulips would pop up and blossoms would start exploding all over the resurrecting trees. Grass would become green again and going outside become a wonderful treat to a starved body.
Arizona wasn't really any of that. We moved here in the middle of summer. Have you ever heard of what summers are like here? They are 3 things: hot, hot and HOT. The day we moved in it was 99 degrees and that was a good day. I had to grow to like and live with sweat and sleeping on top of covers instead of underneath. After a couple months of living here, monsoon season hit. And I was loving it. The drenching rain was so cleansing to my negativity. And the sunsets. THE SUNSETS. They were sunshine to my soul. The weather also started to cool and now my Utah friends were jealous of me. I was slowly starting to gain appreciation for where I lived. This was also around the time my love for photography started to bloom. I was discovering, through my camera lens, that I was surrounded my beauty. It was just a different kind of beauty. A new beauty. I was loving what I was seeing, and to this day I will squeal with delight when I pull my images up on my computer and notice that I captured the beauty of this desert. This barren desert of beauty.
My Brothers. Who doesn't love brothers? Growing up they were annoying pests who wouldn't stop asking questions and stay out of my room. They have since blossomed into some of the only people in my life that understand my humor and immaturity. I don't know what I would do without someone to drive down a crowded street in the middle of the day and roll down the windows to scream Taylor Swifts most recent hit with. My husband does not jive with that. In fact, if I did that with my husband in the car, he would immediately remove himself from the vehicle and claim to never have known me. I say this from experience. With my Ben, I will never be left alone stalking celebrities or shopping. With my Josh, I will also never go laugh-less; his imitations are perfection. Seriously though, perfection. So thank goodness for brothers. They bring out the best in me. And my the best I mean, the 16 year old. I am not ashamed.
The Camera. This one is obvious.
So what happens when I combine these 3 things? Perfection. That's what. See for yourself.
Love you bros. Now let me go finish setting up your Tinder accounts using these pictures. MWAH!
It’s hard to believe this sweet little one is already six months old! The time has flown since I was in the hospital and at his home photographing him as a fresh newborn. I really enjoyed this session with Ashby in his gorgeous and intricate Christening gown. It was sentimental for quite a few reasons. First of all, the location. This is at Midwestern University, the school his dad, Davis, attends. Photos are so much more fun when there is more to the story than just the subject. From the trees to the benches, sidewalk and insanely green, soft grass, this family has a lot of memories here. In addition to this being Asbhy's dad's school, it is also the location I took his twin older brothers photos at the same age just 18 months ago. Lastly, Ashby's Christening gown came straight from his Great Grandmother's lace shop in Montgomery, Alabama. His Great Grandmother is an expert in French Hand-sewing who has travelled the world teaching classes and published books on the subject! Check out the details on the gown. What an amazing opportunity it was for me to capture these memories so this southern family can remember their time in the Arizona desert.