A life that touched so many
The last time I saw Jane Carnahan-Schultz, she was sitting close to husband Randy, her partner of some 27 years, holding hands with him, nodding her head and sharing a smile at the music of some friends of mine at the Sunflower Cafe in Crescent Beach.
It is a picture that will stay with me, because it typified Jane and her love of music, and its power to connect all of us.
It was just as much a part of who she was as her upbeat musical persona, 'Ms. Jane,' washboard queen of Mojo Zydeco, the high-energy Louisiana-style dance band she and Randy formed over a decade ago.
It is those images I want to remember, even as I and many others deal with the news of her passing at age 58 on Oct. 29.
Although the close-knit music community of the Semiahmoo Peninsula was well aware of her courageous fight against breast cancer, anyone who saw her that night would have been struck by the same impression – an energy that Jane projected that was about celebration rather than suffering; a lively awareness and appreciation of life and the richness it can afford to those not selfishly closed off to it.
Any of us connected with the music scene were aware of her infectious smile, and her generous sense of giving.
I have been fortunate to experience both first-hand, not only through her gifts as an entertainer but also through her supportive and understanding presence as an audience member.
Beyond a few basic details, most of we musically-inclined didn't know too much of her other life, in nursing. Reading about it now, in the obituary placed in the paper by Randy, it seems entirely in character for the woman we knew – a quiet dedication and commitment that dated back to her days growing up in Ontario and the loss of her own mother to ALS when Jane was barely out of high school.
Jane, we know, had never ceased to learn and build on her qualifications, including bachelor of science and masters degrees, in an almost 40-year career in nursing.
Critical-care nurse, sexual-assault nurse examiner, public- and sexual-health nurse, outreach program worker, HIV and HCV nurse and nurse practitioner – her work encompassed some of the most difficult situations and challenges in human experience.
Somehow she managed to balance the demands of that professional life with her roles as a loving wife and mother, and yet still find time for her enthusiasm for music of all kinds.
It seems she met it all as she met everything in life, with a complete and selfless empathy and generosity that can be called many things, but is best described as love.
We can spend endless hours bemoaning fate and mourning a life we feel ended far too soon. All of that is far beyond our control and scope of knowledge.
What we can know is that, in her own unique and quiet way, Jane – in her love of music, in her love of life – touched all of those who met her, taking us far beyond all the trivial grievances and dissatisfactions that distract us in the day to day. For that privilege we can be grateful indeed.
A service will be held for Jane this Sunday, Nov. 11, at 2 p.m. at Crescent United Church, 2756 127 St., followed by a celebration of her life at Camp Alexandra, 2916 McBride Ave. (in lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Jack Velker Legacy Project).
For Randy, for their two sons – for all the family and friends Jane left behind – Sunday's events are our chance to let them know she will be remembered, and fondly.