Winter is always a slow period for my business; the big equine competitions are all in the south, weddings and portrait sessions are fewer, commercial clients are beginning the new fiscal year. I use this time to catch up on the projects around the office, cleaning, organizing, backing-up.

One of my pending projects has always been reclaiming the images from disks I have burnt over the years, things that I cleared off drives. I am glad I have always burnt two copies of each disk, because CDs and DVDs are not as safe as we were told. I have made it through the majority of my stacks. My reader is a bit temperamental. Sometimes it needs a time-out to be think about why it is being a PITA. There are many disks that is has had issues reading one day, and no problems a few days later. I just keep trying.

One pair of disks that has been very hard to read, and very important to me to access were the few images I was able to shoot as my father was dying. It was a very traumatic time for our family, it was the week of my sister's wedding, he tripped on the sidewalk, was discharged from the ER with a fantastic bruise on his face, and 24 hours later he was headed in for emergency surgery for bleeding in his brain. He never woke up.

We had the wedding, my dear friend Charlie Mann came down and shot it for me in the POURING rain, we nearly got arrested (long story), had a second service at my dad's bedside in the ICU, and then had to make the decision to take him off life support. He hadn't attempted to breathe on his own for the week he was in the ICU, so we were prepared for him to go quickly. Alas, as soon as the tubes were pulled, he began breathing and his numbers were all near perfect. There was a little part of me that hoped he would spring up out of the bed, but I had seen the CAT scans and this was not going to happen. Interestingly, as we all held vigil around his bed, the only time his numbers dropped was when we began leaving the room for a meal, phone calls, and bathroom breaks. We all came hurrying back, and up they came again.

He lived four days on his own. He passed away in the middle of the night when we had all fallen asleep. These are some images of those last days; my mom and sister holding his hand, my mom and him alone, my sister through his ICU room doors me shaving his beard, his distinctive ridged thumbnail in my hand, my sister letting him sniff the cork of the wine we smuggled into his room and the last photo I have as I left the room after he was gone.

While it still brings tears to my eyes to look at these images, I am so grateful that my drive was in a good mood and copied every single one with no problems yesterday. There are now redundantly backed up and as safe as I can make them with current technology. That being said, I have kept the disk just in case. You can never be too careful.