Hopefully we all had that one person we looked up to as a role model during our childhood. For me this person was my brother Cody. He is the reason I am who I am today.
Notice I didn't say "older" or "younger" brother. By age he was older, but mentally he was stuck at the age of 18 months. He was born with a disorder that caused him to loss oxygen to his brain. The doctors gave him only 6 months to live at birth. He needed 24 hour care, and couldn't walk without the help of another person.
He was born during a time in our country's history that hiding people with mental disorders was no longer being excepted as a norm. My mother fought until her last breath to keep him out of a mental institution or group home. The fight she had in her soul was the reason my brother looks so happy in this picture.
With keeping cody out of a mental institution and living at home, meant involving him in the community. He loved setting on the sidewalk among so many people and screaming at the fire trucks as they passed in the Fireman's parade.
But not every community outing was fun and filled with joy. Many times people would look at Cody as if he was a monster. Little girls would scream and run in fear just because he was "different". Words from ordinary, shameless adults such as "Keep your son tied up like a dog," would bring tears to my mothers eyes.
Cody was blessed to graduate high school, but my mother couldn't find a photographer to take his senior portraits. She searched for weeks and couldn't find a photographer. No one had the patients to work with my brother, nor was he able to walk into a studio.
Bravely I volunteer to take his photos.
Looking back that moment impacted me and so many others. He is the reason I am a photographer.
Love you Brother: