How has the pandemic affected our lives?
Because Dermot and I are retired, Covid 19 has had little affect on our everyday lives. We both have remained relatively healthy and avoided the virus so far. We look forward to getting the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to us. We are even more eager to receive the vaccine since the news of a new more contagious variant spreading around the world.
The only changes in our lies have been inconveniences – not serious changes. With restaurants closed we are unable to eat out as we like to do. However, there is pick up service and we have taken advantage of that a number of times. Libraries are currently closed but we are able to return books and pick up holds outside the library.
Retail stores were closed entirely from March to May or June but are now open with limited capacity. The same for Churches and other religious places of worship. I have not taken advantage of the opportunity to register for Mass but have participated digitally in several funeral services.
The biggest change in our lives has been the deaths of friends and our beloved Nemo this year. Derm lost good friends Clem and Carl Bodon as well as Carl’s wife, Anita. Father John Walsh and Gerald Trudel passed away in November. Gerald’s ex wife Lorna also died this year as did her partner Guy.
With the border closed to non-essential travel (Canada/US), Dermot and I think fondly of our trips to Vegas in past years. However, with his health being precarious, we are not sure if we would be able to travel there in the near future. The same with vacationing in Victoria and Tofino.
When I think about what my day looks like, it consists mostly of a daily walk or two, reading, writing, and quilting. Recently I had to give up playing Words with Friends since my IPad is not working properly. However, there are movies and series on my laptop that I am able to watch through Prime Video. So far, Dermot has watched only one movie with me.
We look forward to 2021 primarily for those who have struggled and/or suffered financially or through loneliness during this past year. Being in a long term care facility has been tremendously difficult for many. We recognize with gratitude our blessings in having a home in the country during this difficult past year.
The man is a success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who leaves the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.
Robert Louis Stevenson
If you were to ask Dermot if he had regrets in life, he would mention two: not enough travel and not learning music, especially how to play the piano.
His accident in 2011, when he smashed his ankle, has been a large deterrent to his travelling. In addition, the restrictions because of Covid 19 has added to the reasons he is now unable to travel. The third reason is his deteriorating health in which fatigue plays a large part.
With regard to music, Dermot has had a natural ability, but as a youth lacked the encouragement and resources to learn the techniques. As an adult, he has not taken the time to pursue this hobby.
However, he does appreciate music and one of his favourite poems about music was written by Plato.
Music is a moral law.
It gives soul to the universe,
Wings to the mind,
Flight to the imagination,
A charm to sadness,
Gaity and life to everything.
It is the essence of order
and lends to all that is good, just and beautiful
Question: Why has music been important to you?
Dermot: It takes my mind into a different space. It gives me a different rhythm in my life; a more balanced one. I have a natural rhythm anyway. Music is joyful like laughter; it gives pleasure.
In 2011 after Dermot retired, the Board of Directors of the Calgary Drop-In Centre applied to have the street address changed from Riverfront Avenue to 1 Dermot Baldwin Way. This was one more way to honor a man who had done so much for the homeless in Calgary.
On Thursday, September 29, 2011 life changed in a moment when Dermot went to help a neighbor finish his workshop/shed. Together they put together a make-shift scaffold and both climbed up about four feet to put some finishing touches on the roof.
My phone rang about 4:30 PM. “There has been an incident. You had better come!”, came the words from our neighbour.
My grandson, visiting, drove me down the road immediately. Dermot was lying on the ground. His foot was turned in the opposite direction of his leg and it was covered with blood.
Our neighbour had called 911 and they dispatched the local volunteer EMS. They questioned his health and medications and tried to stabilize him. The official EMS arrived about 20 minutes later.
Dermot was transferred to the Foothills Hospital where doctors spent hours discussing whether or not to amputate his foot. It was that badly damaged. We prepared the family for that possibility. A few days later when he came out of surgery, I did not know what the decision had been. The nurse told me he still had his foot – they decided not to amputate.
Dermot has been out of the public eye since the beginning of 2011.
What has retirement been like for him?
Because he had spent the previous 16 years helping people as Executive Director of the Calgary Drop-In Centre, Dermot wanted to continue doing things for others. He started with our neighbors.
During the winter he used his John Deer tractor to plow seven or eight driveways when snow arrived. Absolutely no charge! He wouldn’t think of taking money. This was his gift to the community that surrounded us on our road.
At other times the tractor came in handy to move rocks and trees on our property and others.
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