Those bristly whiskers and gaunt face, copper eyes with a cataract, bent legs, stiff spine, who could forget any of Kennedy’s battle scars? But mostly, who could forget the part that was just him: happy, full of love and friendship, despite his pain and his past as you clearly see in his eyes?
I had designed sympathy cards for my other two hospice rescues, Lakota and Emeraude, because it felt right to share the lessons they taught. I wanted to do the same for Kennedy but there was more to him and his time here, all those injuries, the violence of his seizures, and he was not elderly, barely past middle age, there was so much to say. But his appearance was one that might be upsetting on a sympathy card without knowing his story.
Then this week, while thinking about and writing the tributes to three well-loved and remembered rescues, Gracen, Oreo and Crystal, I realized those were the people for whom a card with Kennedy’s image would be instantly recognized—rescuers who’ve known and loved and lost a cat just like him.
And the best photo would be one of the very last I took of him while he still lived, the one I called “Unforgettable”, taken on the morning of the day I had him put to sleep, looking at me with trust and love and knowledge and all that experience written all over his face.
Having been found with seizures in the street on a hot June afternoon, picked up by Margo and Tarra and taken the the vet, then brought here, Kennedy didn’t need a time to adjust or learn to trust again. He looked at me with that same trusting expression from the first time to the last. And as he recovered and gained strength, a special glow filled those copper eyes. No experience would stop him from believing in love, that unconditional love that is the special gift from our animal companions.
I had been trying to get this photo of this expression from practically the beginning of his time here. It was his last day, I had only hours. He was difficult to photograph because he didn’t stop moving, and always walked toward me when I looked at him, and I had to get him where the light fell across his face, difficult especially in the bathroom where he was. I ended up stepping into the tub, he couldn’t walk any closer to me and actually had to stop moving forward, as a bonus the light was falling across his face from the window and reflecting off the tub, and I finally got the photo I always wanted to remember.
I think if I saw this photo I would recognize the cat as one who’d been through some life-changing experiences, like so many I’ve known.
On the back is the tribute I wrote for him for Pet Memorial Sunday:
If only for your last weeks, with all your battle scars, so glad I could provide you with a loving home and a feline family who saw you as a brother. Wherever you came from, my handsome rover, you have our love and blessings, and many others’ too, wherever you’ve gone from here.
I take the use of an animal’s image seriously, especially with my sympathy cards, never presuming they want to represent what I have to say; for that reason I always feel most comfortable using the images of animals I know well, mostly those who’ve lived with me.
My sympathy cards have a theme of happy memories, and in the end this is what I hope we all remember about our animal companions, the joy they brought to our lives, and the beautiful things we shared. Like my other hospice fosters, Kennedy spent just a short time as part of our feline family, but we will surely never forget him.
And I will never forget all the love sent to him from all of you, and I’m sure he remembers too.
You can find this card in my Etsy shop.
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Make a Donation With Every Purchase
If it hadn’t been for an organized group of rescuers Kennedy would never have found his way to my home. He would never have been rescued, and I would never have known him and been able to share him with you. I created this sketch in July 2014 to auction off as a way to help pay Kennedy’s medical bills. The sketch went off to Australia, and I offered prints of the sketch and your opportunity to make a donation of $5.00 with each print purchased to the cat rescue I work with, Pittsburgh CAT, or to the Homeless Cat Management Team to help spay and neuter more cats so there won’t be so many to rescue. Both organizations are responsible for the rescue and care of Kennedy and so many others like him.
I’m sure Kennedy is familiar to you now if you’ve been reading The Creative Cat, but if not you can read about this sketch when I first posted it, and the auction of the sketch to raise donations for his care, and read all the articles about Kennedy from when he arrived on June 16, 2014.
You can find this print for sale in my Etsy shop.
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About my sympathy cards
As an artist I turn my emotions into creative output. Thus it is with the grief I’ve felt at the losses of my cats through the years. After receiving many sympathy cards I realized that not too many are focused on the loss of an animal companion, and I vowed to create a line of sympathy cards drawn on my own experiences that would feature photos and paintings of my cats and others’ animal companions as well as artwork and photos not focused on any species.
It wasn’t until after I’d lost Namir in July 2009 that I was suddenly moved to start designing, and when the task was done I had a dozen different sympathy cards. Each of the cats depicted was or is one of mine and the dog, Tika, I came to know through a friend and her animal memorial project.
Lakota’s card is the first new one since that year. I’ve also found that other cards outside this series are also used for sympathy cards, and as I mentioned above these sympathy cards are used for other greeting purposes. I’m so pleased to serve six veterinary hospitals around the country, four of them cat-specific, with wholesale orders of my sympathy cards. It also brings me joy to know the cats I loved are still out there doing their magic on others.
You can read more about my sympathy cards and see all the designs on my regular website, and you can also find the original set of a dozen sympathy cards in my Etsy shop. With the addition of Lakota’s card and Emeraude’s card I’m going to organize different sets and take the time to list them each individually.
Kennedy had the chance to be a studio cat.
Take a look at other new merchandise and featured artwork.
Once a week on Thursday I feature something new in my “shop”, whether that’s here on The Creative Cat, in my Etsy shop, on my main website or even at one of the bricks and mortar shops that carry my work.
Read about creating custom items
Find out more about creating custom items for your own home using the images you see here. Visit the “Ordering Custom Art” page to see samples and read bout how to order.
Find out about events and festivals where you can find me and my work.
Sign up for my e-newsletter (below), check the widget on the sidebar on my home page, or sign up to receive posts on Portraits of Animals Marketplace. I plan on plenty of events this coming summer in the Pittsburgh area.
It’s all done under the close and careful supervision of my studio cats!
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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
© 2015 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski
Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!