Personal Newsletter Thanksgiving 2020

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Our friend Barbara Haselhorst lived in our ground floor suite and cared for the ducks and our dog Parker when we would travel. She was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at the start of the year. Barb elected to take no treatments and instead enjoy her remaining time on Gambier. 

I knew what we were looking at. But so did Barb. A strong woman, she knew exactly what she wanted. At every turn during her journey, she showed us what fearlessness and acceptance looked like. Although the tumour pressed on a part of her brain that affected her speech so that her words were right in her brain but came out entirely different from her mouth, I could for the most part understand. And she was clear. We're here for a good time, not a long time.

Bobby and I have known Barb for more than 30 years meeting her at Maz'n'Me's when we were dating. She was one of the most fearless performers I've ever known. For the show, for a laugh, she knew no limit. 

We had many good laughs at the house. The tumour was progressively invasive, the last few weeks brought back memories of caring for my Mom. She lived with us for 4 years. At the end of her time with us, I used to cry all the time. Both with Barb and my Mom.

Barbara Haselhorst

Rest in Peace

Barb woke up one Monday morning decided that she was leaving that day for Vernon. Her family moved mountains to find her space and four days later we raced to the Okanagan to get her to hospice care while the province shut down.

It was a very emotional journey, one of love and acceptance. Like most people with loved ones in hospital during COVID, we were not able to share in her last two months in Vernon. Barbara's incredible spirit left this world May 19, 2020. Rest in peace, dear friend.

A COVID Reality Sets In

Our drive back from Vernon - a new reality sets in. We stayed in a hotel with only 4 cars in the parking lot. We've stayed in thousands of hotel rooms over the 25+ years touring. I've never cleaned a room so thoroughly. Every surface, handle and doorknob.

 

We went to Walmart in the morning, couldn't find frozen peas for the ducks, or pasta, or many, MANY things. The last time we had shopped for groceries the shelves were full.  Suddenly, they were empty. The world was becoming different as we drove. 
 

Islanders were concerned about keeping the supply chain open to the island. So, we started grocery shipments to Gambier. The local grocery stores stepped up providing delivery to Langdale terminal. We organize pick up, delivery and disbursement on the island. It has been more physical work and time than I expected, but the rewards are well worth it. It feels great to do something valuable for a community I love so much. 

I recall the weirdness of the new quiet; the empty roads, the quiet skies and diminished boat traffic. All parts of the world slowed down, retracted. I thought that I would crash for a weekend and then bounce back. Rebook shows and post videos; take charge. However, it has taken longer than a weekend.  I'm not sure when to rebook shows and what a "bounced back" future of live entertainment looks like. Not just for us, for everyone. Not just for our industry, for travel, hospitality, sports, gaming.

 

We had long conversations with friends on the phone. touching surprise check-ins. I saw my newborn nephew by video. Bobby's Mom and my brother both had times in the hospital which were concerning but we are happy to report they are both okay now.

 

We are fortunate. We've been here on Gambier. A better place to be during this time, I cannot think of. Bobby and I were recognized on the island with the Phil Richardson Citizens of the Year award for our grocery delivery. Let's be fair, like always I do the planning, Bobby does the heavy lifting.  We thank our wonderful volunteers who help us week in and week out - Terry Hall, Joley Switzer, Nola and Estelle Honeywell as well as Mike Wyness (not pictured below).

We've had a handful of shows this summer which we are very grateful for. (Which you can read all about in our "Nearly Neil Newsletter". However, just like all live entertainment our work is down 90% over the same time in a "normal" year. We are thankful to the Federal government for the CERB which has allowed us to keep our home through this time. There's no doubt that we (as well as most live Arts industry workers) will be faced with challenges to work throughout the winter season and beyond until a vaccine or other treatments can allow us to be together again.  

Therefore, it is imperative that we transition to online entertainment. We hope that you will continue to support us by buying tickets to online shows and more importantly, sharing the shows with your friends as we will need to reach as many old and new fans online as possible.

 

Thanks for reading to the end. We appreciate your support. You can click the "Back" Button to return to the Nearly Neil Newsletter. 

 

Cheers, Leanne and Bobby

Nearly Neil and the Solitary Band