Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 1 - A Self Portrait

This is day one of the 30 Day Photography Challenge! Last week I injured my hip while jogging and I thought I could ignore it. I jogged on it for another week, each day making the injury more and more painful. Finally I couldn't even get out of bed it hurt so bad. So for the past couple of days I've been resting. It was stupid of me to keep going on it… I think I'm getting better now though. Anyways, I just wanted to justify the nasty sweater-and-old-pajama-pants ensemble and tired, bruised face in these photos. Ha! 

PS. I cried laughing at the picture of my cat, Summer. Her face! She loves me...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

30 Day Photography Challenge

I will be starting the 30 Day Photography Challenge on June 1st! Anyone want to join me?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Peace Like a River

I wanted to post some recent photos I've taken. They include everything from pretty sunsets on the lake, to baby goats, to Leah's prom. After a month of living in a state of sadness, I'm trying really hard to get back to normal by focusing on family and the beauty of nature. It's helping. Life is peaceful again, and I can't begin to tell you how nice that feels.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Life Well Lived

Grandpa Mathies. Where do I even begin? My heart has been aching for the last three weeks, and I honestly don't think it will ever fully go away. I have never experienced a loss so great, so painful. 

Grandpa had a hip replacement several months ago and was expected to recover. He was able to walk again with his walker, and couldn't wait to resume driving so he and grandma could return to a normal lifestyle. My family looked forward to having them stay at the cottage this summer (Josh and my current home, just down the road from my parents' farm) and I was even pushing the idea of a trip to Myrtle Beach in the fall. Just like we had all done together many times in the last twenty-one years.

Life rarely goes the way you think it will. Three weeks ago Grandpa was suddenly admitted to the hospital for pain in his chest and difficulty breathing. As the days progressed the doctors diagnosed him with cancer, and kidney and heart failure. It was awful. Nobody wants to watch someone you love suffer. Grandpa was so brave though. He did his best to be strong for my family, especially for my grandma. We were all able to say goodbye in our own way. And finally, on May 13, 2012, Grandpa passed on peacefully in his sleep.

I still can't really grasp the fact that he's gone. My grandpa was my hero. The best moments of my life involved him. It started in the beginning, with our family's frequent trips to Myrtle Beach, the cottage, Pennsylvania, the C.N.E., musicals, and even a Caribbean cruise for his 80th birthday. Their house was enchanting, especially as a child. A big spiral staircase, hidden rooms, a forested backyard. Many wonderful days were spent there.

I was an anxious kid. There was always something I was afraid of, whether it was a tornado, a meteor striking the Earth, or my fear of having some terrible, rare illness. But being around him and his calm, steady presence always brought me peace. I felt so safe with him. So protected, like everything was always going to be okay. 

He was a popular doctor in the Kitchener/Waterloo region. Everybody, and I literally mean everybody, knew him. Not only was he incredible at his practice, but he cared so much for people and their personal lives. I remember every single time we went out for dinner, people would line up at our table to talk to grandpa. He was delighted to see everyone. Introducing them to his family, inquiring about theirs… he never got annoyed. I never even saw him angry once.

When my sisters and I were being terrible, he would just laugh and call us to come sit on his knee. "I have something to tell you. I want to tell you a story." He'd go on with a riveting tale of when he was a boy, or a doctor, or about our ancestors who escaped Russia to come live in Canada. And we'd settle down and behave, every time.

He was such a leader. He had an incredible medical career. He helped found Birchcrest, the lakeside community where Josh and I now live. He was passionately involved in charity organizations as well as his church. He was the most hard-working, generous, kind, gentle, faithful, caring, and humble man I have ever known. He inspired everyone who knew him. He loved my grandma dearly every single day for the last fifty-six years.

I am so proud to be his granddaughter. Over the last couple days at his visitation and funeral I had the privilege of meeting hundreds of people who loved him. We all shared stories, cried, and laughed together. Two major hospitals in the city even lowered their flags to half mast in honour of his life. I am so thankful for the twenty-one years I got to spend with this man. However, I desperately wish there were more. 

Grandpa, thank you for being my role model. Thank you for being a loving example of what family should be like. Our family's foundation is solid because of you. As my sister Nicole said, "thank you great grandfather for teaching my grandpa how to be a man, who taught my dad, who taught me how to choose one." Josh and I, as well as my sisters and their future husbands, will continue your legacy with our children and their children after that.

We're going to miss him terribly. Things won't ever be the same, but there is comfort in knowing that we'll see him again someday. For now, all we can do is continue his footsteps. 

I love you Grandpa. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wedding - Michael & Renee

May 12th, 2012 turned out to be beautiful, warm, and sunny. I met Renee and her sisters at the Destination Inn in Waterloo where they were getting ready that morning. I was greeted by excited grins and banter, and knew it was going to be a good day right from the start. Renee's family is so kind and welcoming. Even though we had only met once before their big day, I felt like I had known them forever. 

The church where the wedding took place was gorgeous, and Renee's sisters are incredibly talented musicians so it was filled with classical music upon arrival. Huge windows overlooked the countryside, stunning architecture made up the sanctuary- it was a treat to shoot in such a lovely atmosphere. 

For the portrait session we headed to the Brubacher Homestead in Elmira. The grounds were beautifully landscaped with fun props like tractors and swings sprinkled through-out. I love how the pictures turned out. Renee and Michael were so fun, and weren't afraid of getting covered in grass and pollen! 

Congratulations to the two of you! I wish you all the best, you deserve it. Thanks for including me on your special day! :)