The Voyage of Life

A Photo Essay by Sarah Ann Jump, Marlena Sloss & Kayla Renie

Inspired by The Voyage of Life, an 1842 series of paintings by American artist Thomas Cole, three Herald photographers set out to capture life in Dubois County. The four paintings follow one voyager’s journey along the “River of Life,” beginning with the innocence of childhood, through the independence of adolescence, the challenges of adulthood and ending with salvation as his final moments approach. In our community, we created images of an infant’s sense of wonder, the freedom that bicycles afford to teenagers, the moment that two people — and their families — become one, people pursuing their passions and a Sister contemplating the moment God calls her home. The works of art by Cole are displayed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

10 weeks

Photo by Kayla Renie

Ten-week-old Elsie Dall looks out the window to her backyard in Jasper on June 13. Elsie loves sitting outside and listening to the birds chirping. "You can tell that she wonders where that noise is coming from," said Keelie Dall, her mom. "She's starting to recognize and make connections." Keelie said one of her favorite parts about motherhood is witnessing children grow and discover the world around them. When Elsie showed recognition toward Keelie for the first time, Keelie cried tears of joy. Elsie, who was still swaddled and sleepy from being woken up from her morning nap, looked directly at Keelie and smiled. “I wonder all the time what’s going on in her head,” Keelie said. “While she’s sleeping, she’ll smile and I wonder what she was dreaming about.” Elsie is starting to gain a personality and recognizes not only her family members, but also music from her play mat and sounds from outside, such as birds singing. Keelie said her daughter is a very curious-minded little one, and she makes a point to constantly explain to Elsie the sources of the noises that she’s listening to and what’s happening around her. As Elsie continues to develop her personality and learn, Keelie is excited for what new discoveries and memories each day will bring.


Photo by Kayla Renie

Diane Blume watches her grandsons, Asher Stenftenagel, 1, center, and his brother Alec, 3, take a bath in her kitchen sink as their cousin, Benson Wahl, 2, all of Huntingburg, plays with a lid from a bottle of baby lotion at her home in Kyana on Feb. 27. Asher is learning to eat with a spoon, so after breakfast he’s usually in need of a bath. Although unnecessary, Alec will often join his little brother for bath time because he doesn't want to feel excluded. Whenever Diane gives her grandchildren a bath in her kitchen sink, she is reminded of bath time during her own childhood with her nine siblings, where there would be three in the tub at any given time. “They are coming up together and doing so much life together,” Diane said of her grandsons. “I hope they’ll be just as close as adults.” Diane says Benson and Alec never leave each other’s sides, partly because they are so close in age, just seven months apart, but also because they were each other’s first real friends.


Photo by Kayla Renie

Ella Schue, 10, of Jasper, holds three kittens at her grandmother Leona Schue's farm in Ferdinand on June 17. Although Ella's home is in Jasper, her heart is at her grandmother’s farm, which has been in the family for more than 100 years. Ella is growing up surrounded by animals. She was just 2 years old when she started leading cows for the first time. Looking up to her siblings and cousins as they raised animals for 4-H, it was only natural that she would follow in their footsteps. With the responsibility of having to take care of her animals every day, Ella’s parents, Audra and Eric, instilled the value of hard work and loving all creatures, big and small, into Ella from a young age. It is Ella’s dream to inherit her grandmother's farm one day and take care of the land and animals with a family of her own.


Photo by Marlena Sloss

Zoey Myers and Aidan Gilpatrick, both 14 and of Jasper, bike down the street in Jasper on March 4. At the time, Zoey and Aidan were days into a relationship that lasted months. The teens love spending time outside and embracing their new freedoms that come with a bicycle and permission to wander. Zoey remembers when she was first allowed to go explore outside of the house without parents. “At first it felt kind of scary, because you never really know what's going to happen in this world,” Zoey said. It now feels normal for her, and her independence has grown. “It's really peaceful at night, because there's less cars and traffic and stuff. Riding, looking up at the stars, it just feels more peaceful,” she said.


Photo by Marlena Sloss

Forest Park High School sophomore cheerleader Madi Fleck, center, talks to sophomore color guard members Corinne Gould, left, and Rachel Brown before the football game in Ferdinand on Sept. 20, 2019. Madi, 15, said she kept to herself in middle school, but now that she is in high school, it is second nature to become friends with people across different activities and interests. During her freshman year, she was selected by her peers to be a Natural Helper — someone who is a good listener and helps to identify and solve problems. Madi said that surrounding herself with friends is important for learning more about herself and her identity. “If I didn't have all the friends that I have today, I wouldn't be the same person,” Madi said. “They bring out a lot in me and they can just change you as a person. The people you hang around determine a lot.”


Photo by Marlena Sloss

Northeast Dubois High School senior swimmers Colby Stafford, left, and Jordan Vittitow, both 18, look at their reflections while bleaching their hair ahead of the the girls swimming sectionals at the home of sophomore Anna Schnell in Celestine on Feb. 5. The tradition of hair dying — and for the boys, head shaving — within the swim team is integral to team bonding and developing a team identity. “We’re literally like a second family — they’re my second family,” said Colby. “And I know everyone else feels the same way too.” Sports and the traditions they carry represent an opportunity for youth to be a part of something bigger than themselves. “I believe wholeheartedly, it’s really a team effort no matter what sport you play,” Colby said. “The stronger that bond is, I think the more you can conquer together.”


Photo by Marlena Sloss

Marco Rocha, 21, of Huntingburg, and his girlfriend, Southridge High School senior Elisha Painter, slow dance during the surprise prom held for Elisha at her aunt’s home in Kyana on April 24. Elisha’s family members and Marco planned the two-person prom as a way to give her a special evening during her senior year full of cancelations due to the coronavirus outbreak. As a young adult in the midst of the global pandemic, about to embark on new career and life paths, Marco said that evening “helped me realize that it’s the small stuff that really matters.” Marco is currently in the Army National Guard, working full-time, and involved in the community through ALASI, a Latino community group. He wants to return to school to become a teacher, and is currently figuring out how to make that possible. Facing the challenges ahead, Marco said it’s “definitely hard… but even during a pandemic, I still found a way to make things work.” Through navigating life during the pandemic, he has learned more about himself. “It just makes you realize, you know, I can keep going on,” Marco said.


Photo by Sarah Ann Jump

Officially declared husband and wife, Gabbie (Terwiske) and Andy Chinn walk down the aisle, as Will Lechner, 5, of Celestine, offers a fist bump, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Haysville on July 18. Gabbie, 28, and Andy, 30, were set to get married in March but postponed their wedding due to the coronavirus pandemic. “We couldn’t imagine doing it without the people we spent our whole lives with and made us who we are,” Gabbie said. To celebrate their marriage with the people they love, the newly-minted Chinns were married in a livestreamed ceremony at a church filled to 50% capacity with masked guests seated with social distancing. Since the beginning of their relationship, the couple has felt that their families were very similar and fit together naturally. The marriage made the union of the two families official. “Having our families as one is so important,” Gabbie said. “It’s definitely the combining of two families, and two people.”


Photo by Marlena Sloss

Lydia Bolton, 35, of Jasper, owner of Fire Horse Yoga, practices yoga in the studio in Jasper on July 17. Lydia took over ownership of the studio three years ago, which was a redefining moment in her life. “I felt like I had a direction for the first time,” she said. Lydia said the opportunity felt like a calling to continue the legacy of Fire Horse Yoga, to continue her own study of yoga and to infuse her own growth with the growth of a business. “I'm an artist. I think we all are, really, and I loved the idea — the challenge — of combining all these layers into something tangible, and also something that could turn a profit,” she said. In Lydia’s own journey to this point in her life, she has experienced personal challenges of self-doubt and anxiety, and has grown from those insecurities as she leads her business. Through it all, yoga has helped her live a life of integrity. “Yoga means showing up, just as I am. Every day,” she said.


Photo by Sarah Ann Jump

Judy Jochem-Nino, 57, her husband, Primitivo Nino, 54, and their daughter, Louisa Nino, 20, all of Huntingburg, eat ice cream and walk through Holland Park on July 24. “Me, coming from Mexico, we want to live the American dream,” Primitivo said. “It’s not just the American dream. It’s everybody’s dream — to have a home you can call your own. To be able to form a family that you can help raise. I think that’s the greatest thing there is to do.” Judy and Primitivo said that in their 50s, they feel secure in the life they worked to build for their family and have peace of mind knowing that they got their children going down the right path. Louisa is an undergraduate at Indiana University studying marketing. Her brother, Mateo Nino, 23, is pursuing his masters in psychology at Purdue University Northwest. “I know that someday we all are going to have to die but whenever that happens, I’ll be pleased with the life I had," Primitivo said.


Photo by Marlena Sloss

Kit Miracle, 68, paints at her studio at her home in Birdseye on July 22. Kit has been a painter for over 35 years, painting in her spare time throughout her careers at Ford Motors and the Jasper Community Arts Commission. Since retiring from her job as JCAC director in the spring of 2017, she has focused on painting, as well as gardening and before the COVID-19 outbreak, traveling. “There’s only so many hours in your life, so that’s what I chose to do.” Kit thinks of retirement as an opportunity to retire to something, rather than retire from something. “I have a lot of things I want to still accomplish. I'm hoping I have another 20 or 30 years,” Kit said. Throughout her career as an artist, she sold work at fairs, online, through commissions and showed work in exhibits and juried shows. Now, she said she mostly paints for herself and continues to enter work in exhibits and shows. “Maybe you will have a long lifespan, but maybe you won't,” Kit said. “What are you going to do for the next 10, 15, 20 years? You know, some people don't even make it to retirement. And I do feel that that hurts a lot. Because you know, I've known some people and they were almost right there and then they die suddenly, and you're like, ‘Oh my God, they didn't even make it.’ So I've enjoyed my three years so far. Lets hope I have a lot more.”


Photo by Sarah Ann Jump

Ed Young, 79, wakes up his wife, Karen, 78, who has advanced dementia, as their daughter and Home Instead caregiver, Dede Britzman, 47, of Jasper, prepares the materials necessary to change and bathe Karen — a diaper, pads, diaper ointment, lotion, deodorant, gloves and wipes — on the portable commode set up in the Youngs’ living room at their home in Jasper on July 27. “Dementia robbed her of everything. It deprives her of communicating with her family. It deprives her of her independence,” Ed said. “She can’t dress herself. She can’t eat by herself. She can’t walk by herself ... She can hug and kiss yet.” Family photos of the Youngs’ 7 children, 21 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren adorn the wall. Ed said that all of their children stepped up to help care for their mother. Even the ones who live out of state make the trip back to Jasper regularly. “When I was raising my kids, Mom and Dad would always be there to help out. Mom was like ‘let us help you now, because one day we’ll need your help,’” Dede said.


Photo by Marlena Sloss

Sister Maura Beckman, 90, poses for a portrait at the Sisters of St. Benedict’s Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand on July 29. She made profession as a sister of St. Benedict in 1952. As she nears death, Sr. Maura reflected on how her relationship with God has evolved throughout her life. From formerly understanding her creator as a stern judge, to now seeing him as a host of love, “God is, as the scripture says, God is love and God is compassionate and forgiving and merciful,” she said. With that discovery, Sr. Maura felt a whole shift in her understanding of prayer and God — and she has felt her perspective toward death shift over time, too. “The dying itself doesn't scare me,” she said. "I think probably the biggest thing with actually letting go when that time comes, is being out of control. Accepting that that's just how it is. This life is evolving into another life.”

The Herald | Dubois County, Indiana | Friday, July 31, 2020