Country singer and songwriter Rory Feek definitely knows what it is like to come upon the unexpected. Rory and his wife, Joey — more popularly known as their musical pseudonym Joey + Rory — stepped away from the country music scene in 2014 to prepare for the birth of their first child. During that time, they had already been married for about 12 years and had spent eight years making music and traveling the world together.
A few days after the birth of their daughter, Indiana, they learned that she had Down Syndrome. A few months later, Joey was diagnosed with cervical cancer that would eventually claim her life; Indiana was only two then.
Now, Indiana, who they call “Indy” for short, has recently turned six. Let’s take a glimpse of the little girl’s life in the wake of tragedy, grace, growth, and simple life in a close-knit farming community in Columbia, Tennessee.
She Knows Her Mama
Even though Indiana was very young when her mother died, Feek said that his daughter has a keen sense of having her mother around her. “I was in a restaurant with Indiana, I don’t remember where we were,” Feek shared to People TV. “But I could not hear it [his wife’s music]. Literally, we’re all having lunch, and Indiana literally goes, ‘It’s mama.’ And she starts singing the song, and I thought, ‘No.'”
“And I couldn’t really hear, and all of us got really quiet, and it took a lot of work for me to realize that’s Joey,” the country singer recalled. “One of our songs was playing on the radio, and she heard it right away.”
Feek added, “I think she’s highly aware of her mama, her mama’s voice, what her mama looks like. She keeps her alive too.”
She Has Plenty of Mothers
Ever since Joey passed away, Feek has been raising Indiana as a single father. But the country singer has been praising all the women around him, this includes his own sisters and daughters, who are helping him raise the adorable girl.
“We’ve settled into a really wonderful life. Both of my sisters live on the farm with us,” Feek once said in his interview with PEOPLE. He also added that his daughter Hopie is living nearby, and Heidi is living in Alabama. “Most little girls have a mother. Indiana has a lot of mothers.”
Though his two oldest children are not living on the farm, they are doing their best to be very present in their little sister’s life too.
“My older girls, they want to help,” Feek said. “‘What can I do to help you, Dad? What can I do to help the baby?’ I think that’s a really special thing, just to be surrounded by so much love and encouragement with your family and your extended family too.”
She’s Spending Most of Her Days In a One-Room Schoolhouse In Their Property
These days Rory and Indiana’s mornings start with a walk to the Hardison Mill Schoolhouse, which their community built on the family farm, thanks to about $100,000 that came in from across the nation after the death of Joey. In the adorable one-room schoolhouse, Indiana learns alongside all kinds of classmates from the community.
It has always been Joey’s plan to home-school Indiana. “To raise and teach her at home. Not just how to read and write, but more importantly, to be part of molding her character and faith and help her become all that she can be,” Feek said.
Her Father Is Is Full Of Optimism About Her Future
In the past, Rory Feek might have been worried about Indiana’s future, but now he is more than grateful for the child he gets to raise. Four years since Joey died, Feek has learned so many things about raising a child with special needs, and he is full of optimism about Indiana’s future.
“I think she can be whatever she wants to be, and Joey and I did not know that,” Feek admitted. “She just needs love, just like everybody else.”
And what’s more inspiring is that Indy doesn’t suspect that there’s anything different about her. Feek said she has no thought in the world. “I used to look at Joey and think, ‘How in the world did I get this lucky?'” Feek reflected.
“I just looked at her, and I thought, ‘How in the world did I get so lucky to be with such a pretty, sweet, wonderful little one?'”
Recently, Rory Feek announced the premiere of his TV series “This Life I Live,” which allows fans to continue to be a part of his story and his life with Indy. New episodes air on RFD-TV at 9 pm ET/8 pm CT every Sunday.
Indiana Feek, joey and rory