Make Your Dash Count

Those of you who have visited my blog for awhile, know I’m the mom of 4 kids, but what I’ve never shared before, is that before I ever had kids of my own, there were three other children in my life.

Within 2 months of getting married, my husband and I became foster parents to 3 children with special needs, as part of a pilot program to remove young children with profound physical and mental disabilities from institutions, so they could live in a home with a family.

One of those  three children was Raymond (this photo was taken in 1990).

foster child

I cared about all of my foster sons, but Raymond held a very special place in my heart that I really can’t explain.

I’ve never met anyone who endured as much tragedy as Raymond had in his young life.

Both of his parents died in separate accidents.  He and his brother fell into an arroyo and drowned.

Raymond was resuscitated, but his brother died.  Raymond was left with a profound mental and physical disability.  He lived with several different foster families before getting moved to the institution.

By the age 5, of Raymond had lost his entire family, and he could no longer walk, talk, or even eat by mouth.

And perhaps that’s why I felt so bonded with him.  He needed someone to love him, he needed someone to take care of him…he needed me.

But he gave me much more than I gave him.

Although he couldn’t speak a word, through his eyes, he “spoke” to me.

His smile blessed my heart.

His face lit up and he squealed with delight when he heard the theme song from his favorite cartoon (Inspector Gadget), which gave me a window into his childish joy.

Eventually Raymond was adopted and went to live with another family, and he passed away a few years later. It’s been more than 20 years since his passing, but he made an indelible mark in my life and heart that will always remain.

His life mattered, and his life blessed mine immeasurably.

inspirational life quotes

 I had the privilege over the weekend of watching  a soon-to-be-released new movie, called, “Where Hope Grows”.

 It’s the story of a man named Calvin, whose past failures are haunting him, and his life and relationships are falling apart.

He meets a young name nicknamed “Produce” who works in the produce department of his local grocery.

And although Produce has special needs, he lives a life full of joy and meaning, and impacts Calvin’s life, just as Raymond impacted mine.

where hope grows

Without giving away too much of the movie, toward the end, a character made this statement…

“There are two dates on every tombstone.  There’s a birth date and there is a date of death, and every human being is guaranteed those two dates.  But that little dash that lies between those two numbers is what defines our lives.

So make your dash count.   Live—really live.

where hope grows

 Raymond’s “dash” was short, but Raymond’s dash counted.

Where Hope Grows will be released in theaters on May 15th.

I encourage you to check your local theater for availability and showtimes.

You’ll be glad you did.

Click below to watch a preview.

May your days be full of meaningful dashes,


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  1. Sue O'Mullan says

    I knew there was something about you ….. I adore you! It is the very goal of my life to keep my son out of an institution!!!!!

  2. Lovely (if a bit heartbreaking) story and very, very good advice. And an excellent reminder as we all wake up and start our days.

  3. What a lovely post, Angie…and the quote is thought-provoking and wonderful. Raymond’s life might have been short, but it is touching a lot of people today, including me. Thank you.

  4. Oh Angie – this is incredibly beautiful – thanks so much for sharing ( your dash is filled with love )
    I’m pinning this post – everyone should see it. ( And I can’t wait to see the movie )
    Much love,

  5. Angie,this touched my heart, you sound like such an incedible person! We would make great friends! God bless! Cindy

  6. *tears* I can’t tell you how deeply this has touched my heart! I knew you were special, Angie, just from the way you view all of the little things in life and how you are able to elevate them to something precious in other people’s eyes…but your experience with Raymond just puts you over-the-top for me…you are the epitome of what we should all strive to be, beautiful lady! This story of how you took this sweet special needs child into your home and heart, gave him a place in your family, accepted him, nurtured him, loved him, and gave him hope is an example to us all to open our hearts to those who need us because, as it so often turns out, we wind up needing them, too! I believe that you and Raymond elevated one another…you gave him a family, love, and all of the things he was missing…and he showed you how love can heal and taught you just how strong and amazing you truly are! Thank you so very much for sharing this wonderful, uplifting part of your life with us…now each of us will carry a little bit of Raymond with us wherever we go…in that way, he will continue to live on and influence others! I can only hope my dash will be half as well-lived as yours and Raymond’s have been, for then I will know I have truly lived and truly loved!

    With Much Love, Respect, and Admiration,


  7. Marlene Stephenson says

    Thank you Angie ,i will try and go see the movie because it sounds wonderful. Our lives do matter.

  8. SusanIrene says

    Thank you Angie for sharing this important time of your life.

  9. I was in the middle of having a pity party about inconsequential things in life. You made me sit up and take note of what I have in my life and be grateful for it. Making a list of how to make my dash important to others. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Angie.

  10. Wendy Johnson says

    That would be so sad except that little boy had three sets of people who loved and cared for him, his parents, you, and his adopted parents. Some children never get one. What a wonderful story. Thank you , and I will think of you when I see the movie.

  11. I thank you and all of the people who care for children that have no one else able to love and nurture them. It is a wonderfully important call that you answered. I will certainly see the movie and thank you for sharing such an important part of your remarkable life!

  12. What a wonderful story Angie and Raymond was blessed to have someone love him so much. You’re an angel. God bless your sweet heart 🙂

  13. Oh, God bless you and your husband, Angie, you and he are truly special people. Our world needs more people like you. Thank you for telling us the story of you and sweet Raymond.

  14. Naomi S. says

    Angie, thank you so much for sharing these parts of your journey–your “dashes” here on the planet. I appreciate your openness and know that you have a very special ability to give love to those who come into your life. I think caring for children with special needs takes a very giving heart, not to mention a reservoir of energy. Bless you for being that kind of person. The world desperately needs those who are compassionate and able to respond to the needs of others. You are one of those people.

  15. Angie, that is deeply touching. It is a reminder that every encounter we humans have with one another carries the potential for creating something special.

  16. To see and read this post again, is a wonderful reminder of how precious everyday and every life is, and of what a special person you are.

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