LETTER: An unusual anniversary year after 50 years in Chilliwack

‘COVID-19 changed my plans from a small anniversary celebration to a singular reflection of the past 50 year’

The latest column by Eric Welsh (“A different type of grieving in pandemic” Chilliwack Progress, May 21, 2020) caught my eye as it mirrored so many of my thoughts. On May 17, 1970 I became a resident of Canada, the start of 50 years of life here. Life was different and I have enjoyed learning all the aspects of being Canadian, and after 50 years, I have become comfortable in my knowledge of Canada (or should I say, Chilliwack). This is one of my expressions of the love that I have for Canada and the pride I have for the fact that I am not just ‘off the boat.’

• READ MORE: COLUMN: A different type of grieving in pandemic

Chilliwack, geographically, is very known to me and I am still learning the rebuilding of ‘new and improved neighbourhoods.’

I think I am now familiar with the way of speaking, what to say and what not to say (sometimes hard), politics, and driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and, oh yes, the weather.

I feel fortunate to have taught hundreds of music students and in some cases, three generations.

Being retired and in my golden years I have given up a house, gardening, teaching, owning dogs and cats, playing badminton, table tennis, judo, and now feel very satisfied to coast along filling my time in volunteering, reading, listening to music, entertaining, visiting friends and spending time with friends and ex-students at the Vedder River.

Not expected, however, was the steep learning curve I was to encounter of late. Lots of what I have learned in the past 50 years is no longer applicable so I have adopted the sheep mentality: just follow and do as you are told. Don’t go to church (that is a hard one), restaurants are out, no entertaining at home, no visiting, wear a mask, “you cannot go in that door,” “stand here, dear,” “no, no, not so close.” Overnight I have become a mindless octogenarian and I am amazed that I still have the ability to string together two sentences.

COVID-19 changed my plans from a small anniversary celebration to a singular reflection of the past 50 years. I am filled with gratitude for the people who entered my life, some for a short while for me to learn what I was lacking, and others forming a big part of my life

At this stage in life it is easy to begrudge the loss of a big part of 2020, but on reflection, and should I survive this pandemic, I am thankful for the opportunity to witness so much love and care in this unique situation in the best country in the world.

And as Eric Welsh wrote, “What now?”

I can only echo, “Now what?”

Herta Stoffels

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