Upstairs in the boys’ bedroom of our tri-level rental house Joe (22 years old at the time) and I tussled: shuffling around the floor. I had juice and hard candy in my hands, while he had both fists attached to noodle arms up in the air resembling a strange form of contemporary dance. As we circled the room, I continued failed attempts at getting either juice or hard candy into his mouth while he persisted in telling me he was fine, with the infamous “Joe grin” while giggling and making stupid faces: mimicking a young child that didn’t get their way. “I’m fine, Ape!” Joe repeated with random quotes from movies or TV shows like the Three Stooges, making sure to include motions if they applied. Joe was a free spirited, super funny guy but when he was having a Diabetic reaction he was downright hilarious. You never knew what was going to happen next.
Joseph Gregory Farkas, most commonly known as Joe, had many nicknames, but to me his was just Poop (without question by anyone that knew him). Joe was the second oldest of my four brothers, that so diligently allowed me to tag along with him and his friends as we were growing up. It wasn’t until we both worked at A&W in Twelve Oaks Mall that we really spent a lot of time together. A & W became what most would call the “Farkas Family Restaurant” because five out of the six kids had our first jobs there. Joe was the kind of guy that was always playing practical jokes on everyone at work. One of the best was when Jeremy, his twin brother, and Joe both worked in the kitchen. Joe was a force to be reckoned with as far as jokes go but when you put the two together; you were sure to be rolling on the floor laughing or really pissed off if you were the victim.
It all started one day when Joe got caught in the stock room suspected of eating a burger that he stashed in his apron (which really wasn’t all that uncommon) crumbs on his face along with ketchup and mustard in his apron pocket were a dead giveaway. His punishment was to clean the grease traps, one of the worst jobs in the entire restaurant, while Jeremy manned the grill. The grease traps hold a sticky, gooey concoction of garbage grease, excess food remnants, and black crusty carbon that was scrapped off the grill. As Joe was scrapping the congealed grease out of the traps he noticed it was so dark and spongy, from not being clean the night before, it resembled brownies, sparking an idea he was convinced Jeremy would help him pull off. Being close to lunch time they were both certain Tom Kanthe, close friend and co-worker, would be ready for a snack. They presented the square, they meticulously shaped and placed on a plate, to him. Just as Tom was about to sink his teeth into the grease brownie he noticed Joe laughing, mouth gaping, tongue hanging out like a dog out the window of a car. Unfortunately for Tom, that was only one of the many practical jokes he experienced with Joe over the course of 25 plus years.
Joe had such a magnetic personality people would flock to him. There were very few times when the atmosphere that surrounded him wasn’t upbeat and positive. Even when he was upset he would give a sideways glare with puckered lips and furrowed brows in a playful manor. He was the go-to guy for many. Whatever you needed him to be he would become that person; almost like a chameleon. It wasn’t until his funeral that I realized how few people really knew about him.
Joe left Michigan about 14 years ago to head to Colorado with his best friend, Jim Steiner. He had always dreamed of living out west, to experience the beauty of the mountains and wildlife captured in most of his favorite movies; Legend of the Falls, Centennial, and Young Guns to name a few. His experience was everything he had dreamed, with the exception of a long life with a wife and kids. Jim had become Joe’s family, snowboarding whenever possible and spending the majority of their time together. Joe’s life ended shortly after coming down with what he thought was the flu at 39 years young.
There were many people I met at the funeral, held in Colorado, that claimed that Joe was their “best friend”, however, most had no idea who he really was or that he even had Diabetes. Unfortunately, that is just the way Joe preferred it. He didn’t want anyone to be caught up in his drama of illness, he had experience since he was eight years old; battling the side effects and symptoms of juvenile diabetes. The cause of Joe’s death was not from an everyday common cold/flu but rather from Diabetic Ketoacidosis. His insulin pump stopped working properly, denying his body insulin, in a frenzied state of hunger his body had to break down fat for energy. During that process the body produced acids that over time became poisonous. Joe was a small man in stature, only standing 5 feet 8 inches, maybe 150 pounds soaking wet. Needless to say it didn’t take very long for the poison to take effect.
Friends and family members were invited to share a story or two of adventures they had shared with Joe throughout his life. In my experience at funerals, it is pretty uncommon to laugh but Joe would not have it any other way. He was a man that lived life to the fullest and will be forever in the hearts of those he came in contact with.
*Some of the text may not be exactly what happened, just what I remember from stories. Please feel free to share your story of Joe, try to keep it clean. (wink)
Sam White: A man known to many as someone with an intense passion for his car, snowboarding, and life. Mid July 2011, Sam got into a major car accident almost two weeks after losing a close friend. His car caught on fire while it was upside down in a wooded area. Sam was trapped in the driver's seat, however mysteriously he was able to make it out. Sam had to be resuscitated in the ambulance and was life flighted to U of M hospital. Sam suffered 3rd degree burns to 80% of his body, a condition that doctors in burn units will tell you is usually fatal. Call it determination, call it will power, but Sam's dad calls it a MIRACLE. Sam Sr. stated a doctor even commented it was not anything the doctors did; why Sam's body is responding to the skin grafts and recovery so quickly.
Miracle one. . . Sam actually made it out of the vehicle. For those that saw the scene of the accident can attest to that.
Miracle two. . . Sam was resuscitated; it was later told to the family, his body responded so well because Sam was so physically fit.
The proclamation of life was a gift Sam was not going to take lightly. He was ready and willing to fight to survive. Sam underwent countless surgeries of skin grafts. Fortunately the skin on his thighs did not get touched by the flames, leaving enough area for skin grafts to cover larger areas of his body.
The doctors expected Sam to be in the hospital at least 6 months before he could go home. It took Sam about 3 1/2 months to be released to go home; Miracle 3.
Psalm 30:2 (NIV) "O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me."
_Sam's next goal and his motivation for a quick recovery; Snowboarding! Can't wait to see you on the slopes!
Mark 9:23 (KJ) "Jesus said unto him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes."
In the two hours that I spent with Sam he was so willing to share his story, his experience with great detail. I loved to see the real smiles and the sense of humor he is able to maintain throughout this experience. Thank you for sharing this part of your life. I am honored to be able to record and share your progress. Look forward to capturing more of your triumphs and miracles as God works in your life! Keep on SMILING!
To family and friends; Surround him with your love and keep him lifted up in prayer, every little bit helps.
Stay tuned for more blogs on Sam's progress.
I just finished meeting with my now new, good friend; Abbey to show her their images for the first time. What a blessing and an honor it was to have captured their family photos. When I first spoke with Abbey my initial thought was, how sweet and friendly she was and I couldn't wait to actually meet her in person. When they arrived for the shoot I was introduced to her 3 month old son, Landon Scott. . . (for those that do not know me, that is my son's name - CRAZY) and her extremely kind, smiley husband Travis. Absolutely stunning family! The love in the room was overflowing. I love to see families draw so close together through one of God's creations. We quickly got the traditional pose out of the way, then went right into the fun stuff.
Travis did such a great job keeping Landon smiling. You would never guess but the only way we could get Landon to laugh was when Travis would tickle Landon's neck with his mouth. Travis would then quickly get into position hoping that Landon would keep his smile on. Loved watching the connections between Travis and Landon, Abbey and Landon (as Travis watched lovingly), and Abbey and Travis.
My goal for most of my shoots is artsy, elegance with emotion. I saw the approval as Abbey watched the images one after another through teary eyes (could just be the hormones though).
_ It absolutely warms my heart to know they will have these memories for a lifetime. I truly feel as if this is the start of a great friendship. Thank you for allowing me to be part of these wonderful memories.
The day started out questionable as the heavens opened up and release a fury of rain down over most of Southern Michigan. The field conditions had been in question for the week prior to the game but that wasn't going to stop Columbia from playing the game of their life. The excitement was the buzz of the small town, Columbia had not been in the playoffs in quite some time.
The mass of white quickly faded to shades of brown as the Eagles tried to stay on their feet . We all watched in awe as you could see their knees give way and as the players sprinted through the mud.
Alex Wesche determined to make the catch, set his footing, and jumped for the completion.
Wesche and Turner made their way through the walls of blue with the continued help of their teammates.
(Upper right) Mud flew everywhere as Travis Turner, #4 Columbia Central maneuvered around #3 of Dundee for a touchdown.
(Left) Wesche displaying that teamwork has no boundaries as he helped Travis Turner remove some mud from his helmet. (Lower Right) Alex Wesche was NOT going to allow a right of passage to #9 of Dundee with the help of Turner and McBean.
The game was a back and forth battle of who could break the tie. The eagles kept Dundee on their toes until the very last minute literally. Dundee made the winning touch down ending the game 27 to 20.
To say their hearts were left out on the field would be an understatement. The Columbia Eagles had an amazing season that brought a small community closer together. Keep your heads high, you played a great game! We look forward to another great season next year.
10 Fingers and 10 toes are what most parents may jokingly look for when their precious baby leaves the womb. As for Carrie & Robert, their concerns were a lot more severe; they prayed that their baby would make it out of the womb with enough development to survive. What Carrie believed to be just typical stomach cramps turned into the delivery of her son 12 weeks ahead of schedule. Miraculously Caelan Alexander was born 08/21/11 weighing only 2lbs. 9.5oz.. His was then quickly rushed off to an entirely different hospital to fight for his life with only a quick glimpse from mom & dad.
I had the opportunity to meet this blessing from God today. Caelan is steadily getting stronger and stronger and according to Carrie; it seems like he grew overnight. This morning she thought he was heavier than usually and much to her surprise after weighing him he finally reached 7lbs.
Caelan has been at home with his family for the past few weeks with the help of a breathing monitor (to alert Carrie & Rob if Caelan forgets to breathe), caffeine to help him to remember to keep breathing, and a few other things to help his body continue the developing stages.
Thanks to modern medicine and God above, this little man is doing really good breathing on his own. Although there are a few inconveniences like making use to grab the monitor pack before walking around with Caelan, Carrie & Robert are happy to have their whole family home. Please say a prayer for the Meusling Family and their miracle boy!
Thank you for allowing me the privilege to capture these special moments of a lifetime!
One of my favorite little girls to photograph! Miss Michaela has such a sweet, caring, silly, and quirk personality that is displayed in the diversity of her expressions. I have such a good time capturing her life. I met her last year when I did a fundraiser for the school and we have been best buddies ever since. I love hearing her little voice when she says: "How about this Miss April?" as she changes from pose to pose. I am always so anxious to see the result of her images. I know if we are having that much fun while we are shooting surely everyone else will feel that way when they see them. (At least that is how I feel.) Hope you are able to feel the joy and excitement this little girl brings to the world and everyone she encounters. God bless you Miss Michaela in everything you do! Love you!
The jacket has significant meaning to her. She might not know it now but this was her daddies varsity jacket from high school. What a great memory for her and her dad to share when she gets older.
The photo shoot wouldn't have been complete without her best friend, Mable.
When I first met with Amanda I wasn't sure what to expect. She was quiet but I was guessing it was just nerves. I knew I had to do something to bring her out of her shell. She couldn't see that I was the type of person that was not going to judge in any way. She soon figured that out when I asked her to do some crazy stuff like jump off of hay bails for her pictures. I could tell she wasn't that into the idea but she soon realized that getting your pictures taken can be FUN! Once she loosened up it turned into a whole new shoot. I saw a confidence in her that will take her far in life. I pray that she keeps that confidence in her self and knows no matter what life brings you there is always light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to look for it. Good luck with you senior year Amanda. I look forward to watching you grow.
This was the game of the season and even lifetime for many players tonight at Columbia Central HS as they defeated Napoleon HS. It has been years since CCHS made it to the playoffs and many more years since they have won a playoff game. This years team is stacked with amazing players and coaches that have taken CCHS through an incredible season with hopefully many more games to come. I have had the privilege of following Alex Wesche, senior quarterback #10 as his paparazzo to capture his senior year. What an exciting year! Check out some of the celebratory images from the incredible victory of CCHS 48 over Napoleon 21.
I had the privilege of spending the day with a long time friend Danny and his beautiful fiance Heidi Jo. I loved to see how much he has changed from a boy I knew from sixth grade through high school to a chivalrous man. It started right away with his comforting of Heidi with her nervous laugh for the first couple of pictures. I couldn't help but notice his consciousness of where she was and his concern for her well being especially when they were crossing the slippery rocks in the water. Heidi kept trying to not show her beautiful smile that just came so naturally when she looked at Danny and melted into him. They were so great to work with and were willing to do whatever necessary to get the shot I had in my mind. I couldn't have asked for more. The connection they shared was contagious, you couldn't help to feel their comfort, encouragement, and utter trust they have in each other. I can't wait to capture the love, laughter, and tears on their special day, when they marry their best friend. So happy for you Danny, I truly feel you have found the woman to complete you.
Love to find your special quirks and personality. Love to find the love in every relationship. Want every image to make you "feel" some kind of emotion. Looking for the real emotions.
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