The Unconditional Love of Family

Oregon Coast Lincoln City-1

~  The Oregon Coast at Lincoln City  ~

Among the different definitions of love (puppy, unrequited, conditional, to name a few), unconditional love stands uncontested as the most reliable and harmonious to our hearts.

Sure, folks may question whether any love is unconditional, but I am willing to bet that in the eyes of a child and mother together in laughter, you will find nothing but the purest form of this love.


“People like to say love is unconditional, but it’s not, and even if it was unconditional, it’s still never free. There’s always an expectation attached…. I just don’t want that responsibility.”  (from the book The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay)

Responsibility is never easy.  To throw out a cliché: the hardest thing to do is often the correct thing to do.  Being responsible in love takes effort.  If you see unconditional love for its purity, respect and admiration for another, then the responsibility of this love becomes second nature.


Yes, there are times when people do not want to take responsibility in their lives…we have all experienced this, but when it comes to love ‘taking responsibility’ is necessary.

Love is not always a beautiful sonnet.  Anger, passionate frustrations and questioning life are all apart of love.  Fortunately, unconditional love will never go away.  It will be there when you least expect it and need it most.

Steel and glass, tempered amid flames, becomes stronger.  Love, tempered over time, will become unbreakable.


Every time I return to the States, I am buoyed by the incredible spirit and strength of unconditional love.  Not a day goes by without giving thanks for such wonderful magic in my life.

This trip back to the States, I visited the Oregon Coast to see my sister Julie, her husband Greg and their kids Taylor and Riley.  An added bonus was to have another sister and her husband (Sandi & Russ) as well as my niece Lauren (from my twin sister Kim and her husband Steve) join us for the weekend as well.


We stayed in their house on Devil’s Lake in Lincoln City, and it was one of those vacations that will always be remembered because of the simple, honest love within my family.  While missing my parents, Kim, Steve and niece Ellie and nephew Lane, their spirits were with us on the Oregon Coast.

The main goal for the weekend was to enjoy and celebrate life: to be with each other and take full advantage of our time together.  We succeeded in achieving these goals.


  • Greg took me to the beach to shoot the sunset…and with my getting carried away in the magnificent sunset, we missed dinner.  Of course this upset the sisters a bit…but in their hearts they’re happy knowing we enjoyed our time.



  • The kids (Taylor, Riley and Lauren) enjoyed the Oregon Coast – and learned more about photography.


  • Riley continued his mastery of water-skiing.




  • Taylor kayaked, took care of us and also showed us the proper way to ride the tube.




  • Lauren showed us her expert wake-boarding skills (no photos of her crashes…).




  • Sandi showed off her amazing skiing skills, after not being on skis in roughly a decade…the magic was still there.




  • Russ fished for trout…and had success after success (after my mom, maybe the best fisherman in the family).  Smoked trout is on the menu next week.



  • Julie & Greg were the perfect hosts.  Greg in the boat and Julie on the kayak.



While I never planned to write such a personal post on my blog, the unconditional love with my family inspires me.  It is from my dad I became intrigued by photography, and something we all share (both Sandi and Lauren providing most of the shots in this post).  The philosophy side has been built up with my mom, through our many talks over the decades.

Unconditional love is about sharing, not a better method to learn.


It is unconditional love that allows the mind to focus on the bigger picture of life.  Personally, it has allowed me to take chances in life and pursue opportunities that I otherwise may not have attempted.

I have forged a different path in life, a large part because I viewed risk differently.  I knew if I failed I’d have the unconditional love of my family to fall back upon, so I was encouraged to push the envelope.


The expectations of my family have largely made me who I am…provided support to strive for success in my career and fulfillment in life.  There is much yet to do, and ahead is a jungle and a long path to forge as I continue in life, but my family & friends and the unconditional love I find there is the pillow where I lay my head every night.

This love allows me to recover and wake at dawn with energy, love and conviction to create a day like no other.

Without them, without this unconditional love, I do not know…



41 Comments on “The Unconditional Love of Family

  1. Feels so warm and nice photos as always!! 🙂

  2. Oh Randy, this is Jennifer Kottkamp, you made me cry like a baby on this wonderful Friday morning. Your writing is simple yet beautiful and full of life. The photos are just right, not too much, not anything less than perfect. I love your blog, and think of you fondly very, very often. Mostly my memories are of the funny times, like you running after Kim and I in the rabbit in the early a.m. when she would leave you at home for using her lipstick to write all over the mirrors, or something like that! Cheers and hugs!!!!

    • JK, how wonderful to receive this comment…thank you and such great memories growing up. Every time I head back to my parents house I pass “your” house and always feel great, as if you guys are still down the street. Amazing how many good times we all had. Cheers!

  3. 🙂 🙂 see my two smile Randall? Kim and Randall yes! i finally know about your twin.
    I asked in my last response, you must have missed it. This is absolutely my best one yet from you. You are a very lucky young man Randy 🙂 familiar words? lol

    Love is KING! Without unconditional love,I too do not know. You make me jealous with these beautiful shots,and an even warmer story.There are many things people take for granted,one is the love of a good family. Sometimes those who are blessed with this do not even recognize least of all acknowledge it. Yes, it’s often woven over many years of tolerance and endearments;but at the end of the ride, the people involved know that come what may, life without those they love somehow tastes sour regardless of successes acquisitions.
    The whole idea is to let love guide,rule and decide at all times. These decisions made in love many times are not savory to the mouth at the times made,but because the foundation of these relationships are grounded by love; the light always appears at the end.
    Now to these photographs and the folks in them 🙂 your people are happy people Randy!
    I love every single shot, especially of the water skiing lady….fantastic!
    The U.S. is a very beautiful country, I forget just how much beauty lays therein but you have once more awakened me to the unique nature that is the entire country.
    The children look content and really in their elements and your nephew Riley in the 13th shot…too much! It’s as if he’s saying “try and beat this,how easy is this?” I tend to babble,just the mom in me but still, I’ve got to finish with a big thank you for sharing a personal side of yourself with us. Life is a process of balance,love is balance.

    • Ha, ha…yes, it is Kim and Randy ~ a great sister. Thanks again Dotta, I think we are similar is so many ways. When you have a good group of people and family around, it is wonderful but you are so right about how it can be easy it can be to take love for granted. It is one of the nice things about being out of the country for so much, I miss it all and can’t get enough when I return 🙂

      Being out of the country also makes me more patriotic, as there is so much beauty and freedom that we have…the parks, forest and coast are just amazing places. The waterskiing lady is my older sister Sandi, who really surprised me with some flawless skiing after so many years. That was one of the highlights of the weekend, and you are so right in saying the kids were really in their element. Cheers, and have a great weekend.

  4. A personal blog post may not always be a bad thing. Nice “story” about family. And I love picture nr 1 and 7; the dreamy feeling in the first one and the great composition in the later one.

    • Thanks, the landscape shots I really like to shoot and the Oregon Coast is a pretty special place. Cheers.

  5. Randall,

    I’ve been meaning to comment on this for several days now. My mouth literally dropped when I saw your opening photo. WOW. The Oregon coast is beautiful, and you certainly do it great justice! I am truly amazed at your skill.

    And I will just echo what others have had to say. I enjoyed hearing a little about your family. When I started writing my blog, I never intended to write posts as personal as “my hero” or the ones in which I talk about myself. But I think that infusing who we are into our work is part of what makes writing and blogging powerful. It means a lot to a reader to be able to identify with who they’re “talking to,” so I’m really glad you decided to share a little bit of “you” with us. I also really enjoyed seeing the water skiing and wake boarding pictures. As I think you know, I grew up doing water sports. I think I’ll be going out on the boat this Monday, as a matter of fact.

    Your family looks lovely, and I’m so glad you’ve had this chance to spend some time with them at “home.” When I was teaching abroad, I only ever got two to three weeks off in the summers, so to get a full two months here is wonderful. Thank you for all your comments on my blog. They mean a lot, and I hope you have a great rest of your stay before heading back to Hong Kong! 🙂 Jess

    • For all my time at the Oregon Coast, I enjoyed this sunset the most…mainly because was with great company. You so right, when doing anything creative, if we can infuse who we are into our work, it not only feels good but also gives the viewer greater insight into who we are (and even helps us understand ourselves better as well).

      This summer has been one of the best summer I’ve had in decades, a perfect opportunity to recharge before heading back to HK. Enjoy your Monday on the water (will you be in Tahoe?), look forward to seeing photos of you waterskiing 🙂

  6. WOW! This is soooo beautiful!! gotta following.

  7. What beautiful photos and beautiful words. AND such a beautiful family. 🙂 You are lucky to have their unconditional love.

  8. Beautiful photography and writing. I always enjoy reading your posts. I need a new digital slr….and a class…..any suggestions?

    • A new DSLR, there are two routes I would suggest:
      1: Go Canon (I am biased), and the Canon Rebel line is great. Just got my niece a Rebel T3 kit that came with a wide-angle and zoom lens…fantastic deal and good quality.
      2: Look into mirror-less cameras, which if I was starting out new, I would consider because of the size and overall value.
      Thought about this for my niece, and ended up thinking option #1 is the way to go. 🙂

  9. Pingback: Who Are You? Does anybody Know? | My Everyday Psychology

  10. This is beautiful, so beautiful. My gosh, seriously, you’ve really captured love and family here. Yes, there is responsibility in love. Damn… beautiful.

    • Thanks Noleen, there is something special about the relationships within a family ~ and for those who have it, that unconditional love is the greatest inspiration. You and your son sure are the epitome of this greatness. It is beautiful. 🙂

      • Dalo, thank you so so much,


  11. The pic are absolutely incredible…what a beautiful looking family.

  12. What a beautiful post, it reminds me a lot of my family – who also stay thousands miles away from my current home. Sometimes I feel that being an expat/immigrant in other country make us realize the existence of the unconditional love from our family. Somehow the distance brings us closer. Stunning story, thank you for sharing this.

    • You are so right Indah, being thousand of miles away in another land makes us think about how lucky we are to venture out into the unknown without much fear…as we know we have something wonderful to fall back on should we fail. Family. There truly is not a better feeling 🙂 Thank you!

    • A difficult post because it is so personal…and I did not tell any of my family (fortunately they liked it…especially Riley, as he had a great skiing weekend). Looking back, very happy I posted. Thanks Audrey.

    • Thank you Inese, there is not a day that goes by where I do not count my blessings with my incredible family. Cheers to a great day ahead!

  13. Being confident about taking risks is something I am still learning to do. It’s wonderful when we are allowed to fail successfully, isn’t it? So much becomes possible then. Thank you for sharing that same support you receive from your family with others. May your last days of summer be golden ones.

    • I think the “risk taking” lesson is one that continually evolves as we get move forward, something you know well with all the travel and adventures you do. The key is getting a taste of the sweetness of the unexpected so as to see all the opportunities out there – it changes the game so to speak. Wishing you a great final days of summer as well.

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