The Lam Family | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

“Family, like branches in a tree, we all grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.” – Unknown

When I was back on holiday in Malaysia early this year, I had the honor to photograph the fabulous Lam family. Evelyn, my ex-collegue-turned-good-friend, was also back in the country with her two sisters, Karen and Sharon, to spend quality time with their aging parents. Evelyn and Karen resides in Melbourne, Australia while the elder sister, Sharon, lives in Washington DC.

Uncle Lam has been feeling under the weather, so we finally decided to have the session at their condominium residence and its surrounding area. Having lived in USA for five years, I could empathize with the constant worrying about elderly members of the family back home.  Hence, we agreed to approach the session in a more meaningful way – each of the sisters were asked to tell each of the parent why they meant so much to them, from their growing years to now in their adulthood. And likewise for the parents, where the siblings will ask their parents to do the same.

I’m very proud to share the result of – raw emotions of happiness, tears of joy and sadness, and most importantly, the celebration of their love for one another that stood the test of time.

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There’s something beautiful about elderly couples still being so deep in love with one another after 42 years of marriage.

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  • 31 Jul ’14 - 3:58 AM

    Patricia Knight - What a beautiful story you shared. I’m a little teary eyed. And what wonderful images to share with future generations. Just beautiful!

  • 31 Jul ’14 - 4:06 AM

    Michele - This is EXACTLY what I would want for a portrait session with my parents and grandparents. What great memories for generations to come. Their children’s children and future generations will know them with these photos. Great Family Photos!

  • 31 Jul ’14 - 5:49 AM

    Natalie - What a treasured memory that you captured! Brought tears to my eyes, just looking at the images and thinking of my grandparents.

Ai, Marita & Alexander | Family | Versailles, IN

“A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.” – Pablo Picasso

The aforementioned quote is most apt to the story of Ai Brown. This coming Mother’s Day will hold such a great significance for her and all those who knew of the struggles she has gone through in the past three years and how God turned the situation around for the better. On March 24, 2011, while awaiting to make a left turn to their home southbound of US 421, their pick-up truck was struck by a semi. The impact of the crash was so powerful that it instantly claimed the lives of their daughters, Kacy Nonoka Indiana Brown, 7 and Grace Nana Brown, 6. Both Ai and her husband, Kris, suffered critical injuries and had to be airlifted in separate helicopters to the University Hospital in Cincinnati, OH.

I was first introduced to Marita, as Ai’s close friend a year after the crash. A few weeks passed before I met Marita and Ai at Crossroads for lunch. It was apparent that them two were more than close friends…more like sisters. From different mothers. And fathers. Ha. The sisterhood was birthed when Marita made a conscious decision to be Ai’s friend, when she heard about Ai’s pending move to Versailles from Japan. Ai was to first make that move with Kacy and Grace, before Kris was to join them when his navy service term ends.

“I know it can be a very lonely experience for a newbie like Ai coming to America on her own. My own brother felt that when he moved to Finland with his family. So I decided I was going to be Ai’s friend, someone she can talk to, someone not family related,” said Marita. And their bond of sisterhood grew stronger through the new physical and emotional challenges faced by Ai. We made plans to meet again, but we didn’t get the chance due to scheduling clashes.

Last August, upon hearing from Marita the news of my sister’s sudden passing, Ai sent me a card. In it she wrote, “I’m very sorry. I heard from Marita about your sister. It’s hard. When you are ready, let’s meet and talk. Now I’m ok. I have morning sickness. I’m 23 weeks pregnant now. God answered like this way to us. Thank you for praying for me. I will pray for you and think of you. Love, Ai.”  That note jolted me to another teary meltdown, which led to feeling at peace…despite everything, I know God is ALWAYS in charge. Ai finally saw the full picture of God’s grace, mercy and big plan for her. It will be due time before I see mine. And that is good enough to keep the faith.

I attended Ai’s baby shower in October, before I returned home to Malaysia to be with my family. I made a promise that I will photograph the baby when I am back, and I fulfilled that promise last Saturday. Marita spends most of her Saturdays at Ai’s house to help around the house and to babysit. Most of all, to give Kris the day off. So it was a perfect day to photograph them for this story.

Without much ado, I’d like to introduce the miracle baby, Alexander Sora Brown. He was born on January 5, 2014. Marita and Kris were there with Ai during the 18-hours long delivery. Sora means ‘sky’ in Japanese. The sky is the limit to God’s plan for him. Amen!

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I was greeted by the colorful Koinobori, “swimming” to the currents of the wind. They are raised in celebration of Japanese’s Children’s Day on May 5.

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And there he is, the handsome Alexander Sora Brown!

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Marita still carries photographs of Kacy and Grace.

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Through God’s mysterious and wondrous ways how the above Kabuto made its way to Ai’s home. It is a traditional Japanese military helmet which is very difficult to get in the USA. Even though she had a cloth painting of it, Ai really wanted to have a real Kabuto for Alex. She mentioned that to a friend, whom was then, by the grace of God,  introduced to a family who was looking for someone to give it to, someone who would cherish it as much as they did. A few calls were all it took.

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We obviously made a lot of ruckus, and Thomas was not happy.

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Some shots of Alex with the Kabuto for the grandparents back in Japan.

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Marita with baby Alex.

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Ai and her miracle baby. We took a few photographs before baby turns hungry and grouchy.

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Can you tell daddy Kris is a big Cincinnati Reds’ fan?

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While taking the above photographs to showcase their friendship/sisterhood, we realized how they can be misconstrued as a same-sex parents. Ha, we obviously had a great laugh about that.

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Then Thomas told me it’s time for me to go. Hehe.

Haha No Hi, Ai! Love you! And Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers reading this post!

  • 9 May ’14 - 8:55 PM

    Marita Cord-Mergenthal - fong, you did a wonderful job with the photographs and telling the story. we all had a wonderful time with you and hope we can get together again soon!

  • 9 May ’14 - 10:30 PM

    Angie Evans - These are beautiful pictures and tell the beautiful story of a miracle from God and the story of a beautiful friendship!

  • 10 May ’14 - 2:48 AM

    Kim Pierce - I’m grateful to God to get to see this handsome guy…he looks so happy! I see his mama AND his daddy in Alex’s chubby little face…what a blessing! The photos are great, thanks for sharing both the pictures and this beautiful story of faith, hope, and love.

  • 11 May ’14 - 4:12 AM

    Audrey - These tell a story, I love that! Great photos.

  • 12 May ’14 - 2:52 AM

    Lai Xu - Precious pictures with such a powerful story! I am so touched after reading this!

  • 12 May ’14 - 4:20 AM

    Sangeeta Vagel - What a gorgeous story to go along with the photos… well done :)

  • 13 May ’14 - 3:10 AM

    Brandy - What a unique story. The first BW images in the mirror is very nice.

  • 13 May ’14 - 4:50 PM

    Marita Cord-Mergenthal - Fong, this message is from Ai, she asked me to post it for her,…
    it is in her own words,…

    Thank you Fong took our photos so nice!
    My husband loves them too.
    My fingers don’t move well any more after the car accident so i don’t use computer so much…but Marita helped me check your site for me.
    Wow! you did great job!
    Cause this photos my looks are beautiful!
    i can’t do make up, fix hair, put on nice clothes…so i was afraid how i look…but these photos show my happiness.
    The wall behind the Samurai costume was mess by stickers, hahaha…
    The room in my daughters. They put stickers everywhere! When i saw this photo make me smile.
    Kacy & Grace’s memory in the photo with their brother…
    this 3 years…it was really hard time and still go on but my Lord always stay with me and my husband, friends, family, our town people, my church members…they support me lots.
    I miss Kacy Grace very much…but I never feel alone even in the deep sadness moment.
    Everybodys support made me keep on and live!
    God gave me Hope.
    I alive for my best! Thank you again!
    Ai Odashima Brown