Update: Rusty and Jane

We are at the coast right now.  As anyone on the ride knew, Rusty’s sister (my step-daughter) died of metastasized breast cancer while we were on the trail.  She was a mere 42 years of age and passed the night we were in Stavely.

We arrived in Vancouver yesterday with the intention of supporting Rusty’s two brothers (my step-sons) in their grief as well as being part of a ceremony being put on by the dragon boat women Kirsten rowed with for two years and of whom she was so fond.  (Their group is called “Abreast in a Boat”.  All are breast cancer warriors.)

We will be home next Thursday, so please don’t expect too much from us until then.

We know Miranda is working on a “Reunion Ride” at the Blackfoot.  When we get home, we’ll get involved and help put the Wild Pink Yonder stamp on it.

Until then, we grieve. 

Please keep our Kirsten in your thoughts.


9 thoughts on “Update: Rusty and Jane

  1. It was, again, Legendary!!! And, yes, Kirsten’s memory “spurred” us on – cancer is not just a word -it is real and no one gets an “excused” note from the teacher. To all the wonderful folks I had the privilege to ride with, all the town folks that made us feel so welcome and to our wonderful ground crews that came and went and last but sure not least, Jane, Rusty, Rae, Pam, Hugh, Paul (love you Bro!) and Kenny, you will always be in my prayers!


  2. Hi …
    Today Rusty’s brothers, Paul and Kent, are dragon boat rowing with Abreast in a Boat to raise money for sick children here in Vancouver. Tomorrow we have our ceremony on the water for Kirsten. Paul is doing well. My darling Kent, who I helped raise, is not. Of the two, Kent was closer to Kirsten. He is also the most gentle and sensitive. I worry about him and wonder if I should be taking him home with me so he can have the benefit of spending time at the place that Kirsten has described as her “heaven on earth”. (I always knew that Kirsten loved her time at my place, but it was confirmed last night when I met her aunt. The first thing “Auntie Twinks” told me is that three months ago Kirsten said to her, “If there is a heaven, it must look just like Jane’s farm”. That was a bitter-sweet moment because, knowing she’d not see the farm again, about three months ago, I got one of those electronic picture frames for her and filled it with assorted pictures of the farm — with the lilacs in full bloom — and all her favourite critters. I’d hoped at that time that it would give her strength and peace. I’m thinking now that it may have helped in the peace department.)

    So, we will go with the dragon boaters for a ceremony on the water and then lunch at the restaurant where we’d taken her last. Then Monday I am taking all of us — Rusty, Rae, Paul, Kent and me — to Whistler to ride Peak2Peak. On Tuesday the three boys are going to spend some “bro time” together in Kirsten’s apartment and after dinner Rusty, Rae and I will leave for home. Or maybe, if he’s up for it, Kent will come with us. (I so need to get back to work, but even more so, I think Kent needs some help.)

    Either way, I’ll be back in the saddle on Wednesday. Or maybe I’ll only be adjusting the cinch Wednesday, but I’ll be there if anyone needs to discuss anything.


  3. We each never know how much time we are given and Kirsten was so young, but if she is anything like the two I have met (Jane & Rusty), she will have truly lived a full life in the short time she was here. May God bless you all.


  4. Well … we’re home. The ash ceremony on the water was lovely. The women in the dragon boat (“Abreast in a Boat”, the first breast cancer dragon boat in the world) are amazing. So strong. So supportive. I can see why Kirsten was drawn to them. And then we paddled. There is method to the madness, so we took a quick lesson from the ladies and off we went. I can see why Kirsten was drawn to the sport.

    When you’re in a dragon boat, the thing is heavy. You, yourself, cannot paddle and move it. As a team, you can move it quickly and decisively. Everyone is committed to one thing: paddling in unison … being in sync with each other and with the water. If you’re not in sync with the other paddlers, you don’t go anywhere. If you’re not in sync with the water, you get wet.

    So we paddled out into the “creek”. In fact, it is part of the ocean and there are large boats and water taxis everywhere. We had to learn to stop the boat, as well as how to make it move forward, because those taxis don’t give ‘way for anything or anyone.

    We paddled. It rained. It wasn’t cold at all, but it rained softly all morning and into the afternoon until we came off the water. That was fitting. Kirsten’s YouTube name is “Angelrain67”. (If you go to YouTube, you can look up Angelrain67 and see the things she posted. Among them is more than one video of my farm — her heaven on earth. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bf2_-LqMgBA.)

    At one point, we stopped and had the dragon boat ceremony they do when one of their paddlers passes. It involved singing their song, slowly waving pink flowers over our heads and throwing them gently onto the water when the song ended. Later, the boys had their own ceremony where they released Kirsten’s ashes into the water and laid pink edged white roses on the water for her. At Kirsten’s request, she was released in two different places on the water.

    After that, we went to the restaurant where we’d had dinner with her last. As it turned out, that dinner was the last time that Kirsten left her home. When we went there for a late lunch after the ceremony, all the dragon boat women came with us. It was wonderful. THEY are wonderful. Such strong women. All are breast cancer warriors.

    I think I am not going to use the term “breast cancer survivor” again. That is what they called Kirsten. It is a deceptive term, and it’s wrong.

    So … I’m home now, and life goes on without our Kirsten.

    My truck still isn’t ready. I went to pick it up today and the new alternator they got for it doesn’t work! Maybe tomorrow. Then I’ll go get my trailers from Edmonton Equine Veterinary Centre.

    Some of Kirsten’s videos from my farm:


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