For me, it begins with my mom. Her name is Dottie Troia, and she is the most courageous person I've ever known in my entire life. Diagnosed in the early 1980s with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease or ALS, and given a life expectancy of two to five years, Mom said, "Aw, hell no. I've got places to go, people to see, things to do, and grandbabies to raise. Ain't nobody got time for dying." She lived valiantly, gratefully, productively, and lovingly for over thirty years, imprisoned in her quadriplegic body, struggling to speak, breathe, swallow, and hold her head up every minute of every day, until she took her very last breath on August 31, 2014.
My mom still makes everyone who had the honor of knowing her laugh with gusto, cry with tears of joy, and appreciate every breath we take. Mom taught us all, without needing to say a word, that the value of a life well-lived, the measure of success, the meaning of love, and the joy of God's creations have very little to do with circumstances and everything to do with how the spirit responds not only to catastrophic events but also to simple every day occurrences. She coached us all, and it is my hope that somehow, through my photography, or this blog, or a real life experience, I can help you find within yourself the strength, resilience, wisdom, love, and most importantly, the gratitude and joy that comes with it that she exemplified every single day of her own life.
To be honest, she'd be pissed at me if it turned out that she did all that work for nothing, so I'm kind of on a mission...
Mom, I promise not to let our continuing story go untold. As I care for our family, teach my students, meet new people, make new friends, nurture relationships, and live as bigly (sorry, couldn't resist that one) as I can, I will do my best to spread your message of love and inspiration as far and wide as I can.
As you once told me, "It's time to rock and roll."
Love forever and always,
Photo Credit: Carole Troia