Happy New Year! We made it to 2021. Not to sound anti-Bright-Side, but man, I sure hope 2021 is an easier year for us all. Last year kind of sucked.
Well, let me be clear. Large chunks of 2020 sucked. That’s me being polite. But since when do we look at the big picture around here? Not very often… and yet, all the time. If that makes any sense.
Anyway, thought we could look back at some of the columns I wrote in 2020 to remind ourselves that there is still a lot we can look at to find joy, even during a time of worldwide pandemics and political strife and whatnot.
Back at the end of last January my office said goodbye to long-time colleague Lexi Bainas. I wrote about her retirement in a Jan. 24 column called Goodbye to a coworker, hello to family!
“I first met my coworker Lexi Bainas back in the fall of 2003. I was relatively fresh out of journalism school, and had just finished up an internship up-Island before landing the job as the sports reporter here at the Citizen,” I wrote. “She was the veteran arts and entertainment reporter, always happy to have a chat and/or lend a hand.”
For years, more than 15 actually, we worked together and then all of a sudden, she wasn’t there anymore.
What a bummer. Upon closer inspection, however, there’s totally a bright side. Lexi would be the first to tell you she’s not as young as she used to be. Working during COVID-19 would have put an incredible strain on her. While we missed her in the office, the bright side is she was safe and happy working from home on a new book project with a friend of hers. It’s called Memories of Cowichan Lake: A Life at Greendale and you should check it out. She’s very proud of it.
And, like I said in my column back last January, “There are so many memories. In short, I’m gonna miss her a heck of a lot. We all are. For the majority of the last 16 years we’ve been a great team. Scratch that. We’ve been a family and, lucky for us all, family doesn’t stop when retirement begins.”
At the end of January last year I also wrote about the problem I was having with my kids commandeering my bed.
“Four bears in the bed, and the little one said ‘I’m crowded, roll over’. So they all rolled over and Mom fell out and went to sleep somewhere else, happily ever after.”
OK, enough about my family. Let’s talk about some of you and how you’ve made the region better just by being you.
Back in March we met Robin King.
King made his 150th donation to Canadian Blood Services, a massive accomplishment that was nearly 40 years in the making.
King said he’s not one for advice, but “it’s an easy hour” that is worth trying at least once.
“If it’s not your thing then don’t. It’s not like you’re obligated to do it,” he said. “You can quit anytime.”
How’s that for a community hero?
More were on the way. As the pandemic grew, a group called Covid Action Cowichan had such massive success outfitting the Cowichan region’s medical professionals with scrub caps, headbands and ear savers that they shifted their focus to “Masking the Valley”.
“We hope to continue to expand our reach to help protect everyone. We are all part of this community, and we are all important,” said Terra Lee, one of the organizers.
When I wrote about the group it had 52 members. Now it boasts more than 1,100. They’re doing great work and still going strong. If you’re on Facebook, join them and see how you can help.
In April we also met Calen McNeil, the owner of the Big Wheel Burger franchise, who came to Duncan to feed hospital staff.
McNeil’s offer was to feed all staff: from doctors to nurses to housekeepers to technicians to lab workers to security staff and so on. Each staffer got their choice of a meat or vegetarian pasta meal, made at Zambris in Victoria and delivered to the hospital for pick-up — at a safe distance, of course. His crew ended up feeding 371 employees in a job well done.
And most recently we learned about Alida and Josh Beaumont who overhauled their entire wedding at the drop of a hat due to changing COVID-19 restrictions. They didn’t even whine about it, they just saw a problem and found a solution.
I’m not sure why I picked these particular stories of members in our community for us to look back on together. I was just compelled to choose them. Just like they were compelled to do the little things they did back in 2020 to make life a bit better for the rest of us. Together, we focused on the little things they did: donating blood, making masks, feeding people, and changing their plans for the safety of the rest of us.
And it turns out those little things were actually the big things after all.