Covid-19 means isolation, masks, crowded hospitals and climbing death rates. This is a bad time for all of us. Many face economic catastrophe. Others have had elective surgery postponed. For some surgery or treatment will prove too late. But sprinkled through these days of isolation I see glimpses of kindness.
We live in a condominium complex of four-plex pods, all built on ground level. We have big windows and a front porch giving us prime seats to view life outside our cozy home. Neighbours coming and going. Chatting. Watering their flowers. Bringing home groceries. Walking their dogs. I guess we’d have to admit we’ve become a bit nosey.
That’s why we noticed Reg taking a jug of water with him every evening when he walks his dog. Why? To fill up a dish in the next-door park for all the thirsty dogs who come that way. And we have a lot of dogs from stately Huskies to diminutive Pekinese and quite a few mutts.
And that’s how we saw Jan’s walker escape her grip and roll across the road. Jan is totally dependent on her walker to take even a step. As she stood there pondering what to do, a neighbour rushed to her aid. He retrieved her walker and proceeded to help her get her groceries from the car. From talking to her we knew it was not easy for her to accept help. She is a self-confessed stubborn Scot.
There’s the church that asked its members write personal cards of encouragement for all the residents of two long-term care facilities, one in Cobourg and one in Port Hope.
Then there’s the neighbour who sewed face masks during the early weeks of the crisis. She worked during the day but in the evenings sat down at her sewing machine. She made the finished masks available freely to anyone in the development who could use one. We benefited personally.
And of course, there’s Cherie. Cherie loves to talk. She’s one of those who once she captures your attention will not stop until she has informed you about her health and past history and any grievances she has with the condo board. As a result, many have taken to giving her a wide berth. Few want to listen for ten or fifteen minutes. Cherie loves flowers and she has created quite an oasis. In spite of her quirks, people have begun to stop and admire her flowers. When she had to be away for a couple of days, one neighbour watered her garden. Now, she can hardly walk, so she has quite a time getting from her condo to the mailboxes. The other day I saw a neighbour holding her arm and helping her home with her mail.
Then there’s the grumpy Englishman who is suffering from prostate cancer that has spread into other organs. His prognosis is bad and his appetite much diminished. But he does love eggs, so one neighbour brought him a dozen farm-fresh eggs to enjoy.
We can’t forget the neighbours who led a gaggle of us in a social distance singing of O Canada on July first. They arranged it all a couple of days ahead of time, so we could gather in the street outside their condo, while the wife accompanied the rendition on her portable piano. In spite of the gloomy news, we hear each evening, every day we see little acts of kindness taking place outside our picture windows. Neighbours waving and chatting—most at a social distance. It seems as if the corona virus has inspired more neighbourliness! Of course, our community of stubborn Scots, cheery Jamaicans, stolid English, vociferous Poles, and polite Canadians may be unusual. But I doubt it. I can imagine this happening all across Canada.