Heart Held Hands hand legacy project with PHotographer kathy umbarger

Moments of Grace

Working at Quiet Oaks, we receive daily reminders of the gifts that constantly surround us. Most of those gifts are simple: the beautiful wildlife meandering through our gardens, the unmistakable smell of cookies made with love, the sound of laughter echoing between families and our nurses, the honor of sharing tears and grief with one another. Beautiful, unmistakable gifts.

One of the most amazing gifts that we get to witness, however, is the deep and spiritual connections between loved ones as they share their journey with us. It is a humble reminder that our relationships here on earth are so profoundly part of us, that even death cannot separate us.

Along those same lines, we continue to be in awe at the manner in which relationships are gifted to us at Quiet Oaks. Without fail, we soak up treasured stories which lead people to choose involvement in our mission. It is humbling to watch these unions unfold, and they are always met with the utmost gratitude and appreciation.

You may recall from our last newsletter that Quiet Oaks proudly presents the work of local artists in our hallway every month. This past January, a photographer by the name of Kathy (aka Kat) Umbarger of Katumba design & photography© was led to Quiet Oaks thru the Visual Arts of MN to display her art for the month. This connection was fostered through an Art Scope Exhibition invitation that was extended through the Visual Arts Minnesota located in downtown St Cloud MN.

Pictured here: Kat putting the finishing touches on her exhibit that brought her to Quiet Oaks last winter

Little did any of us know that this "chance meeting" would guide us to an incredibly beautiful project, which will eventually give Quiet Oaks the gift of honoring the relationships that shaped the lives of our residents.

Titled: "Risen" is currently on display at Quiet Oaks Hospice House cabin & a gift from Kat

Kat, who has always had a love of photography, holds a degree in Graphic Arts/Marketing with over 18 years of experience. However, her passion for photography kept tugging on her heart, and led her to open her own business in the past 2 years. As you will see, however, the foundation for her gift in this work was laid long ago.

As Kat hung her work that winter, casual conversations began to unfold regarding the sacredness of loss. Kat's personal story, which has beheld incredible loss, has developed into a life of finding joy within sorrow, perhaps inspired by a letter she received from a dear friend that quoted The Prophet by Kahlil Gabran:

"When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."

hand portraiture by photographer Kat Umbarger

Living on the east coast at the beginning of her life, Kat knew loss early, as she and her brother, Eric were rescued from a residence that her biological mother, Hazel, had them living in. The two ultimately found a trust in a beautiful experience in foster care with Marie and Elltin Wells.

Kat and Eric thrived in the gentle care of their foster parents for four years.

At the ages of 7 and 5, the two of them were adopted into the family of Barbara and Richard Shively. Even at that tender age, Kat was keenly aware of the ironic beauty of fragility and strength within the love of our relationships.

Kat was given a beautiful childhood, deeply rooted in the Christian faith. She was encouraged to seek out her purpose, to think independently and to ask questions, which eventually led her to follow her passion for the arts, and over the years her business in photography.

Over the past decade, however, Kat faced the reality of losing both of her parents to cancer. Her amazingly brilliant father left this world 9 years ago this month from multiple myleoma and her charismatic, confident mother passed into Eternity on Easter Sunday, just 2 years ago from carcinoma sarcoma. Kathy and Eric also have been shared the information that both her biological parents, Hazel and Jim have both passed on as well. Hazel from a murder (Dec 17 1989) and Jim from complications due to pneumonia. (when Kat was in 7th grade) She found out about these tragedies at the time that the incidents took place.

Through these difficult losses, Kat has chosen to find joys in the sorrows and appreciate the moments of living. As the quote above suggests, we can find joy in our sorrows as without joys there can be no deepest of sorrows. And one cannot appreciate the joys without having endured sorrows.

It has been said that photographers are collectors of beautiful moments. Kat often refers to these once in a lifetime moments as "glimmerings." One of Kat's greatest gifts as a photographer is to freeze time within the moments of living; to recognize and be present in the "marrow" of life and capture the glimmerings.

This wonderful gift, combined with the amazing moments that present themselves in end-of-life care, brings about some incredible news for Quiet Oaks:

Heart Held Hands is a legacy hand portraiture project

Heart Held Hands© is a project that will invite families to have Kat capture the moments in which physical presence is fleeting. We are blessed to witness the power of our residents connecting to others in their final days. With the generosity of Kat's beautiful gift, we are able to assist families in capturing those last moments of holding hands, before departing ways....until they meet again.

photographer Kat Umbarger of Humble Hearts©

Kat has created a division within Katumba design & photography©, entitled Humble Hearts©. The effort of this hand legacy project, Heart Held Hands©, will offer families the sacred glimmerings of their final days together, captured forever.

Quiet Oaks is proud to present "Heart Held Hands©"

Please watch this video to see some of the Heart Held Hands© images that inspire our work and bring comfort to our families. We think you'll find the images will speak to your soul and allow you to share in the moments of grace that are so evident at the end of a journey. Heartfelt thanks to Kat for helping us to give this gift to our families.

Created By
Kathy Umbarger


Linda Allen, thank you for believing in my vision of healing through art, and the unspoken universal touch of the hands. Truly a legacy project that goes a lifetime through the arts. - Kat Umbarger Thank you goes out to the Quiet Oaks Hospice House for the article featured in the November newsletter Copyrighted 2016 Katumba design & photography

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