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Birthday Tribute

by Lori Fortin

March 22, 2022

Forty years ago today, March 12, 1982, was the first of only a few of the happiest days of my life as my firstborn son, Randy, came into this world. The immediate love and adoration that I felt were second to none, and that strong bond has never wavered. Even in death, he is always with me.

These last two years, seven months, and two days haven’t been easy, but I have survived because I appreciate the 37 years we had with him. I’ve learned coping mechanisms because I have five other children, grandchildren I'm raising, a husband, a mom, two sisters, and a brother and the last thing I wanted was to hurt them further by seeing me fall apart. I decided early on that this loss would not do me in. I taught myself that every time a bad thought about the circumstances surrounding his choice to leave this earth came to mind, I quickly replaced it with a happy memory. I decided to respect his desire not to be here anymore because it was his choice, and I knew he could not handle what was going on in his life. He was suffering, not thinking clearly, and needed to be free of his pain. And no matter what anyone else may feel, I know he is now at peace in Heaven with God, his grandfather, and his godfather's uncle.

So even though it may feel uncomfortable to some to talk about a deceased person, it helps us in grief to talk about them, so I want to share about my incredible son, those memories that have helped me. Randy taught me positive parenting before I even knew it to be a thing. He was so artistic at an early age, doodling all over his school papers. I still have his portfolio from high school. He designed every tattoo he had and had many, but all of them were covered by clothing for his professional career. He worked in so many jobs and excelled but as soon as there wasn’t a challenge left, he moved on and learned something new and went as far as he could in that job. He made substantial differences in his positions from having the mental health/substance abuse fields adapt to patient-directed care to testifying to the legislative in Virginia on having a brain injury marker on their licenses for police to respond accurately to their needs that eventually became law after Randy’s passing. He continued his education, always wanting to improve his knowledge and abilities. His passion was for those who struggled, as he could relate. I loved reading his many college papers. His musical talents and the importance of music in his life were profound. He was in many bands and even would make CDs of him playing each instrument and doing the vocals and meld the different recordings together. The only alternative rock band I’d ever be caught at was when he was performing. The telephone receiver distortion microphone he invented gave him much pride. He loved deeply and adored his two daughters. He still had his childhood friends that appreciated his humor and honesty as much as I did. He never liked attention directed at him, yet he would get dressed in the most unique Halloween costumes. He had a keen sense of humor that was so funny but not understood by everyone. He was loyal to his values and beliefs to a T but was known to change his stance on things as he grew and matured. I was so proud of him, and I still am. One of the sweetest things he ever said to me was after the baby shower when he was expecting his first child. He thanked me; I said, " Oh, you’re welcome, assuming it was for the event and all the gifts " He continued saying for giving me a good childhood and traditions that I can pass on to my children… I knew then that my boy had fully grown up. I did look up to him because he was smarter and more practical than I was. We related. I miss him so much, but he is okay, and I’m okay and honored to have been his mother—happy heavenly birthday, my child Randy.

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Lori Fortin

Lori Fortin is a devoted wife, mother, and grandparent who, along with her husband, is currently raising their grandchildren. She is the bereaved mother of Randy Carvalho, to whom this piece is dedicated.

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