The message within her ‘mess’

Published 8:27 pm Wednesday, November 20, 2019

By Tonya S. Swindell

When I expressed admiration for the way in which my friend, Becky Riley, juggles home, family and career, she responded candidly by saying, “I have no choice…it’s just a mess!”

I thought about how she spends quality time with her husband, three beautiful children (one of which has Type 1 diabetes) and friends while working as a physical therapist, adjunct professor and Young Living distributor. It dawned on me that Becky’s perceived mess may be the source of her inspirational message.

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“Beck,” as I call her, works full-time for Sentara Therapy Center at Suffolk YMCA and part-time at Old Dominion University. For almost 20 years, she has found time to play defense for the Tidewater Women’s Soccer league at least once per week. She also accompanies her children to various extracurricular activities like karate and dance.

Becky is married to Josh, her high school sweetheart and dedicated family man, whom she describes as “the yin to her yang” because of his easygoing attitude. Beck and Josh are awesome parents to Charlie, a 2-year-old daughter whom her mother describes as “the chill youngest” with a “fiery red-headed spirit”; a caring, energetic 4-year-old son named Cole and a talented 8-year-old ballerina named Alice who Becky says is creative, “a born leader, fierce, as in she doesn’t let anything stand in the way of her dreams.”

Becky’s father-in-law, Eddie, who had a striking resemblance to Santa, lived with her family in Driver up until he passed away last August. Eddie was instrumental in caring for the kids, providing good cheer and emotional support. Becky described how he eagerly assisted while providing careful management of the Type 1 diabetes that surfaced in Alice’s life approximately two years ago.

This November, Becky used Facebook to educate others for Diabetes Awareness Month. I learned it is a disease in which a person’s immune system attacks healthy tissue. Warning signs of diabetes may include: excessive thirst, frequent urination, bedwetting or heavy diaper, vision changes, headaches, rapid weight loss, increased appetite, irritability, mood changes, fatigue, weakness, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fruity breath odor and rapid, heavy breathing.

Becky gave Facebook friends a glimpse into the cost and intricate routine required to manage the blood sugar of a typical 8-year-old using life-saving diabetes technology. She acknowledged helpful tips shared by other moms of children with the disease. Becky also expressed gratitude for individuals like Jennifer M. Brown, Amanda Bowman, Domenick Epps and others who provide invaluable assistance.

The consistent, loving and supportive aspects of Becky’s life convey messages of hope and perseverance in the middle of what may seem like a mess. The strength of her family reminds me that I’m never fully aware of the challenges some people may be facing but handling graciously.

Individuals interested in funding diabetes research or new treatments can make a tax-deductible donation in honor of Alice Riley at