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Do what’s important – photograph your loved ones!

So today's lesson is not about photography technique or any of the “how to” stuff, it's all about the WHY!

Why Photography is Important

Whether you are a pro, amateur or hobby photography. No matter if you have a fancy DSLR, point and shoot, or a Smartphone. Please remember that the photographs you take are important, regardless of the quality or what you took them with.

I write this with tear stained cheeks, and puffy eyes because today we had to say goodbye to our much beloved and already missed cat Pumpkin. She was 18, and “they” say she had a long and happy life, and that we should be happy she passed without pain, with us by her side. But the selfish part of me misses her and wants her here with us still.

Photography records history – records life!

Below you see some of my favorite images of Pumpkin taken in the 5 years she's been in my life. It's not the same as having her here, but they will provide some comfort when we miss seeing her little furry face. A record for us that she was here, and touched ours hearts so deeply.

As I look at them it makes me want to hop in my car and drive the four hours south to Calgary to go photograph my 92 year old grandmother. I suddenly realize I have few photos of her recently and I feel a burning need to go and document her life, however long she has left with us (right now I don't even want to think about that day!). I recently just finished a project to create a photo book of my husband's uncles who are into their 90's as well.

My project – and yours, if you are with me?!

So . . . My mission, and yours should you choose to do it with me, is to photograph a loved one and produce a book. While they are still alive! In my years of experience doing portrait photography, I've had many families come for a portrait AFTER the loss of a loved one.

Do not wait, act now!

Is there someone in your life, a family member or pet, that is elderly or sick? Get on the phone, hop in the car, do what you need to do to make this happen and go photograph them!! As soon as possible.

In Memoriam – Pumpkin, a Royal Cat

It's been a long couple days and we had to make the tough decision today to let Pumpkin go peacefully. She got sick really quick, her kidneys failed, and she refused to eat or drink. After a night at the vet hospital and no improvements we made the call. With the doctor assisting, she quietly went to sleep in my husband's arms surrounded by love.

It's with great sadness we say goodbye. She's left us in body but lives on in our hearts. We love you!!

Rest in Peace Pumpkin

In the window or our RV during our trip, she loved the soak up the sun

One of her rare trips outside, she was a dainty indoor kitty
Just love her cute little face
One of my favourite if not the favourite photo of Pumpkin, our little orange kitty
She sleeps . . . you are loved and missed already Pumpkin!
“Boo, you go explore first and report back” – Pumpkin wasn't the adventurous one of the pair.

Addendum, thanks for Carol for sharing these beautiful poems with me. They have helped in our grieving process.

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
Author Unknown

The Last Battle

If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then will you do what must be done,
For this — the last battle — can't be won.
You will be sad I understand,
But don't let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.
We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn't want me to suffer so.
When the time comes, please, let me go.
Take me to where to my needs they'll tend,
Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know in time you will agree
It is a kindness you do to me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.
Don't grieve that it must be you
Who has to decide this thing to do;
We've been so close — we two — these years,
Don't let your heart hold any tears.
Author Unknown

Update December 6, 2012 – we lost another one!

Ever curious and mischievous, even at age 19!

Rest in Peace Booger (aka Boo)

Boo, was our little Bombay kitty with the big personality, that gave us so much joy. Today we had to say goodbye to Pumpkin's companion of her 18 years, Boo (short for Booger). After Pumpkin was gone Boo stopped eating and we knew she was grieving for her longtime friend, as we were, but for her it was like losing a spouse. Even though there was frequent cat boxing in our house, they certainly loved each other. It was hard for us to watch her get weaker and weaker, and become a shell of her former active, feisty self. We tried everything possible to help her for 8 weeks including being in the vet hospital on IV for 3 days, getting cat acupuncture, Reiki, kidney medication (her kidneys were failing too), dental care on an abscessed tooth, giving her daily feedings with a syringe and water injections under her skin to keep her hydrated. Finally the decision had to be made when her back leg stopped working for her and sometimes it wouldn't keep up with her, even though she still insisted on jumping from the dining room table to the puffy armchair four feet away. She had trouble getting into and out of the litter box and began peeing on the floor and even on the dining room table. We did not want to see her suffer so we knew it was time.

Edmonton Holistic Veterinary Clinic

Big thanks go to Dr. Jennifer Marshall, Heather Hanrahan, and all the staff at the Edmonton Holistic Veterinary Clinic. These people truly care about your animals as much as they do for their own. The did everything they could to help Boo, but it was just her time to go. The way in which our final time with her was handled couldn't have been more perfect. Dim lights, an aromatherapy candle burning (that smelled like pumpkin ironically) and the utmost of love and care for her and for us. Thanks guys, you're the best!

A special bond and a cat lover is born

Boo and I had a special relationship. Most of my life I've been a dog person, then in 2007 Rob moved in with his two cats, and naturally, I had some reservations. I was very allergic so unfortunately they went to live in the basement, something I still regret to this day. For the first year in the house Boo hissed and swatted at me any time I walked past her. Gradually I showed her I was the alpha cat and I was in charge, not her. I started hissing and swatting her back in a playful way, and we gradually became friends. Eventually the cats came to spend their days upstairs with us and Boo would push her way into the bathroom to rub against my leg (yes while I was on the toilet) and purr.

Then in December 2009 we hit the road on a 6 month RV trip and took both cats with us. I awoke one morning to find that our propane had ran out and it was a chilly 12c (54f) inside the motorhome, and I had a cat on my pillow squashed up against my face. It was Boo! From that day on she's accepted me as her second human, and trusted me more than anyone other than Rob. I could hang her upside down (was just our thing, and she seemed to like it), nuzzle her face with my face, and she spent many hours sleeping on my pillow and sometimes even under the covers with me with her little paws tucked up on my shoulder. I had always loved Pumpkin, but Boo earned a special place of her own in my heart because I had won her over.

We called her the “cuddle monster”

My view most mornings, oh how I miss that furry butt in my face.

Boo was really good at “cat typing” and she's almost deleted Rob's entire hard drive, shrunk the view it to 10%, and rotated it vertical. We had to google how to undo it!

Boo the sun worshipper!
Boo is the star of my Night Photography class when I show this “painting with light” image. Done with a long exposure and flashlight and she sat there the whole time!
Oh those big green eyes!

Moving on, but not forgetting

Suffice to say we miss them both dearly and our house is now cat free, and feels very empty and quiet. Who knows, you might see another article in the not to distant future on a new furry addition, we'll see . . .

If you've even had a pet and lost them, my condolences. It hurts so much to lose them, but they sure bring us so much love and joy for the time they're here it's so worth it!

If you're curious about cats in a motorhome you can read about their experiences in these two articles:

Christmas day 2009 in Arizona at RV park in Phoenix

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