I discovered kayaking almost 10 years ago now. I had seen brochures in our local post office about a group of women who were offering their time to guide kayaking expeditions on the Great Lakes to raise money for Breast Cancer Research. I jumped at the opportunity to participate, as I had just lost a cousin to the disease, and I needed a way to channel my grief into some productive endeavour that would honour "Kitty."
Kitty...I need to speak about her for a minute. Kitty and I grew up sharing the same grandmother. Kitty's parents arrived in this country from Scotland, and had neither family nor friends here. My Nana "adopted" this family as her own, and as she was from Scotland herself, I am sure that she understood the challenges that they would face in this new country. George and Mary went on to raise a family of two...Georgie and Kitty. and they both ended up calling my Nana, "Gram." I remember asking Nana if Kitty and I were cousins, and she replied that we were "kissing cousins." ( How often do you hear that expression nowadays?) We were cousins from that moment on.
Anyhow, Kitty was afflicted with breast cancer in her 40's. It was a voracious disease. She fought it gallantly but during her struggle, her youngest daughter was stricken with Leukemia. She and Nat battled together and Kitty held on until she knew her daughter was safely in remission, and then left us.
So... shortly afterward, I found Paddle to a Cure, and signed up. I raised the mandatory $2500.00 and added another $1700.00 to that sum. We paddled and camped on Georgian Bay for 4 days, and I returned home knowing that I had discovered a great love that would heal the loss of my other Great Love.
I was blessed to have been able to participate in two more week-long trips. I learned paddling skills. and met wonderful women and men who shared a common desire to eradicate this disease. Camping under the stars made me feel closer to the heavens where I know Kitty, and fellow paddler Kathy, now reside.
My last trip was also the last expedition of Paddle to a Cure. It was launched in Atlantic Canada and was more challenging than any I had been on. My DIL and daughter were along for that trip and I know that this was an experience that my daughter will never forget. Vegetarian meals, icy and rough waters, a vicious thunderstorm, incredible scenery and no trace camping. (Did I mention no toilets?)
I find it difficult to get on the water as often as I would like to now but when I do, I am taken to a place that I cannot find at any other time.
My painting to the right is dedicated to the memory of Kitty Wilson, Kathy Reid, and Paddle to a Cure.
I really hope that I thanked our leaders and guides for donating their time and expertise over those five summers. You will NEVER know what this opportunity has given me and my family.
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