GLOUCESTER -- Jessi Kittrell found out her long-time friend, Cheryl Hansin, had terminal brain cancer. The diagnosis came in October.
"I wanted to do something for the family, and, you know, I'm a photographer, so the first thing I thought of was let's give them some memories. Let's give them some pictures," explained Kittrell, who owns Happy Acres Photography. She contacted her friend's daughter, Ashley, and in November, a photo shoot was underway.
"We took this antique sofa and took it out onto the dirt road with all the pretty fall leaves in the background, and we had mom bundled up with a scarf on, with a jacket on, two blankets, everything," recalled Kittrell, smiling. "We had her in the car in the heat, and as soon as as we had everything set up, we would get mom out. We'd put her in position, get dad, you know, and then we would take the picture, and this woman, for as sick as she was, her spirits, I mean, I have, they were, Ashley's mom and dad were an absolute inspiration."
"My mom had to quit her job, and we had to sell our horses and all the livestock," Ashley Hansin told 13News. "It's definitely something very hard to watch, and watch my parents go through, especially with all the love they share, 42 years of marriage."
Hansin wanted to mark the occasion with a special gift and chose a picture of her parents to be put on canvas. She planned to surprise them with it. Kittrell placed the order. Several weeks passed, and the picture finally arrived along with another canvas Kittrell ordered.
Her mailman called to let her know about the delivery, but by the time Kittrell's daughter drove down a country road in Gloucester to pick it up at her mailbox, it was gone. Kittrell said someone had taken it.
"Very outraged, very upset. I just don't know how someone could steal from someone else to begin with," Kittrell said.
"Once you realize what it is, why would you continue to still take it?" questioned Hansin. "It's not some kind of extra goodies that were on a Christmas sale. It's someone's pictures, someone's memories, and for someone to take that, it's just horrible."
Kittrell drove around the area looking for the canvas, thinking the person who took it might have dumped it, but she did not find it. She is working to order a replacement, but she said she doesn't think she'll get over the fact that someone stole the picture.