The Sarnia Journal has partnered with local photographer Art Connolly to feature his captivating “Humans of Sarnia” series as he delves into the lives and experiences of everyday people in Sarnia. Follow his series on Instagram and Facebook
Love’s Journey: Shea and Randy’s 36-Year Odyssey
By Art Connolly
In the heart of Sarnia, I met Shea and Randy Bird – a married couple whose enduring love story spans 32 years and counting. Their journey began 36 years ago at Goodwill Industries, where they both worked. Both born and raised in Sarnia, with Shea attending what was once Johnston Memorial School – now known as P.E. McGibbon Public School – and Randy attending Devine St School.
Shea and Randy radiate warmth, even in the face of challenges. Shea, the eloquent spokesperson, complements Randy’s introspective nature. Their career paths meandered through various places, including Goodwill Industries and Community Living Sarnia. They even delivered the Sarnia Observer newspaper to hundreds for a decade, leaving an imprint on their community.
Randy faces glaucoma, rendering him legally blind, yet the duo tackles life together. They’ve learned to lean on each other, finding solace in their companionship. Randy engages with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), participating in activities like weekly bowling – a chance for them to socialize. CNIB events like dinners at the Dante Club and an annual picnic further enrich their lives.
Bound by a shared love for sports, they huddle close to the radio, cheering for Toronto Blue Jays baseball and Sarnia Sting hockey games. Attending the Sting games was a tradition, but Randy’s vision’s decline redirected their focus to radio broadcasts. Amid community life, they’ve etched their presence at a local McDonald’s restaurant, where they’re recognized as “regulars.” Randy’s gatherings with old friends at Lambton Mall offer Shea cherished moments to herself.
Walking the mall, they maintain their vitality. Shea attends Living Hope Church and Randy attends Graceway Baptist. At Living Hope, they harmonize with friends, joining in song and Bible studies. Randy participates in the Passport Program, uniting individuals with disabilities in shared activities. Family connections flourish: though childless, they meet siblings for monthly dinners, a tradition involving a jovial group of ten.
While their story resonates with joy, Shea revealed a forthcoming chapter – awaiting admission to a nursing home. Their unity transcends even here; they will enter as a couple. Yet, the path forward remains uncertain, a testament to their unwavering devotion.
Shea and Randy’s journey is a living testament to the power of love’s endurance. I’ve witnessed a love woven with compassion, courage, and the unbreakable bond that fuels their journey. Shea explains that they have had their ups and downs and as they age they know that age doesn’t matter when it’s love.
“Humans of Sarnia” founder Art Connolly is a man fuelled by curiosity and a passion for connecting with people in Sarnia. Inspired by the renowned “Humans of New York” series, with a camera in hand, he captures the very essence of the individuals he encounters, preserving their stories through his lens.