As a girl of 7, Kathryn Hempel wrote a note to herself that she never forgot. I want to be an artist and paint the sites of the world. But a busy life as a film editor, partner in an international company, wife and mother of two children kept Hempel from pursuing art on a regular basis.
They were the first generation out of the closet, recognizing their sexual orientation when homosexuality was still illegal in many states, when it was still classified as a mental illness by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II).
The stories of two Oak Park same-sex couples illustrate how far society in general has changed in the last 30 years. When Leah Fowler was a teenager in the early 1990s, she would, from time to time, have crushes on girls she knew, but she resisted the possibility that she might be gay.
It was a dream eight years in the making. When Oak Park artist Mike Hedges and his wife Julie purchased a home across the street from her parents, they knew what they were taking on: a mortgage and a plan for their future family. Hedges knew the responsibility came with a downside.
Dr. George Dietz, 82, never dreamed of a day when he might retire. The Oak Park resident maintains a practice on Chicago's South Side and makes house calls three days a week, often driving more than 100 miles in a day to treat the bed-bound.
To honor the mother of Jesus, many Catholics adorn her statue with a crown of flowers each May. But St. Luke Parish School in River Forest does not just crown their statue. The second- and eighth-grade students, dressed in First Communion and Confirmation clothes, lead a procession, bearing the statue from the school to the church on a special bier.