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Readers reflect on 'life-changing' lessons learned during pandemic

'I had no idea that I would be craving the feeling of a hug, or to touch someone’s hand, or to see my family and hug and kiss my grandson like I do now,' says reader
lori mcintyre new
Lori McIntyre said the pandemic forced her to 'recalculate' her life. She is one of many readers who shared their personal reflections on the impact of the pandemic, which was officially declared a year ago - March 11, 2020.

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the date the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic.

Throughout the day tomorrow, you will be able to check out several stories about how the pandemic has impacted Orillia - our local businesses, the medical community, the municipality and its citizens.

Today, we want to share some reflections from you - our readers. Last week, we issued a call seeking insights learned during this 365-day event that has changed our world.

Here are some of those insights.

Lori McIntyre, who grew up in Orillia and attended both elementary and secondary school in Orillia, says the pandemic has been life-changing. Here’s her story:

My luck to be born 60 years ago has shaped my life. As I read books and watch television, I see my fortune from the comfort of my recliner. I see it in the sepia tinted faces of anxious parents with malnourished and ragged children during the Great Depression, as I graze upon a bowl of fruit. 

I track hurricanes, raging forest fires, and tornadoes while contemplating that the mantle needs dusting. I wince at the smell of manure on a nearby field, as toxic chemical explosions obliterate people’s homes and lives.

Perhaps we should have expected a global pandemic? Some would say we were due. It’s not that there hadn’t been previous infections, but this virus had a crown on it, and it was, and is, determined to rule the world.

I’ve got to admit that while reclining and eating fruit, I had sunken into the world of immediate gratification. Prior to COVID-19 we expected and got everything we needed, and maybe worse, wanted, immediately.

I’ve learned a lot about viruses, prevention, and vaccines, the jargon that is essential to staying alive. 

However, I also got the memo about how to live a life. So, like the GPS in the car that has to recalculate my wrong turn, I had to recalculate my life. 

I didn’t care if someone cut me off. So what if I had to wait outside the grocery store in the cold? None of it mattered as an invisible virus with a crown exposed the vulnerability of humankind.

As we continue to wage a war against something I’ve never seen in my fortunate lifetime, I feel hopeful. 

I see people I don’t know, smiling with their eyes and voices behind masks in the grocery store. They show their kindness and patience, thanking the exhausted cashier behind the plexiglass. 

I hear the support from my doctor on the phone, and the reassuring protocols put into effect from my dentist and optometrist.

The best relief for me came a week ago. I received a text from my daughter: “Mom, I found Lottie watching TV with her mask on. She says her face is cold.” 

I guess at two and three-quarters, little Lottie figures this is the reason for masking up. Perhaps I don’t have to worry about the wee ones after all, well… maybe a bit.


David McDonald found a silver lining amid the pandemic. Here’s what he had to say:

My wife and I are 74-year-old snowbirds that go to Florida every year. I had set some goals to get in better shape that I was able to accomplish. Then our P.M. called us home early. We weren’t able to go back to Florida this year.
So on Feb. 2 I decided that the roof needed to have the snow removed. That resulted in a fall of eight feet. My wife called 911, the paramedics arrived, assessed me and took me to Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. They gave me a CT Scan to determine my injuries. I had one broken rib and a very small brain bleed. I was admitted to the hospital so that they could give me another CT Scan to ensure that the brain bleed was not getting bigger…it wasn’t so I was discharged. 
As soon as word spread about my accident, our newest neighbour (about six months) and his dog’s name is ‘Toad’ showed up to plow my 400-foot driveway with his 4-wheel drive ATV with a blade (sometimes before he went to work).
We are so blessed to have neighbours like that!


Orillia’s Sandra Joyce says the pandemic has been an eye-opener for the wrong reasons:
It has taught me that younger people think they are immune to what is happening in the world and their neighbourhood. 


Kathy Gray said there have been mistakes made by decision makers:

I thought the government should have shut down the airports a year ago. Especially international flights where these variants are coming from.
Also hairdressers should be allowed open. They have done all the safety procedures. I feel safer there than a big box store. Plus all the little shops should be open. They are safer as they don’t get crowds at once. Will be interesting to see how many bankruptcies end up happening.
You can already see the empty stores in our downtown


Orillia’s Donald Davis said, financially, the pandemic has hit hard:

Though there are many different things that have changed in my life since the start, the most important thing was the cost of my groceries has gone up 25 to 30 per cent, but my OAP and CPP did not go up. 
In fact, my OAP went down $12 per month with no explanation, and my rent went up $8 per month. Being on a fixed income, these increases have hurt me the most.


On our Facebook page, Janet Bressette-Condon commented:

I had no idea that I would be craving the feeling of a hug, or to touch someone’s hand, or to see my family and hug and kiss my grandson like I do now!


Lori Carruthers commented:
That it's been a difficult time not visiting my parents and family in Orillia. I'm proud of the way that most Orillia citizens have been vigilant in keeping COVID numbers down there. There is no easy fix. I will be happy to support Orillia businesses when it's safe to do so. I feel for those businesses that have had to close due to other areas having way too high COVID numbers. None of this is easy no matter where you live. Stay safe folks.

Amber McGarvey commented:
To continue to support small, locally owned businesses and local organizations. A reminder that no job is too small (be grateful to all front-line workers). To be patient with each other and ourselves. And spend more time outdoors.


Ellen Cohen wrote:
That I can do with a lot less. That my family and friends are more valuable than anything else. That I miss hugs and seeing people's faces. And that I am strong enough to follow health protocols to the letter and get up each day and do it again until we are all safe.


Bradley Mathews commented:
The government knows less today than they knew 365 days ago.


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Dave Dawson

About the Author: Dave Dawson

Dave Dawson is community editor of
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