Masks, Grandparents, and Tragedy: Nova Scotia in the Times of Covid

I’ve been making masks, about 50/day for the past ten days, and raising lots of money for the Food Bank. I know many kids get a good chunk of their nutrition at school, when there is school, and I wanted to find a way to help them. I didn’t know the demand would be so great, and I suppose before long it will become mandatory to wear a mask whenever we’re out in public, buying groceries, etc. Oh, well. It’s good busy work during these strange times. Friends donated lots of sheets and t-shirts, which I’m ripping up for the ear loops as there’s a worldwide elastic shortage, not surprisingly.


The other day, I found myself dipping into my rag bag for mask-makings, and ended up using some pieces of sheets that I’m pretty sure my grandparents gave us for a wedding gift 33 years ago. It was from Nana and Gramps Mingo that I learned to sew. Nana had a turquoise Singer sewing machine, and I remember her patiently showing me how to thread it, etc., and how thrilled I was with the idea that you could actually make something useful from a sheet of fabric. I’ve always loved visiting fabric stores, looking at the array of prints, and for 15 years, before I got into the crazy writing business, I made toddlers’ clothing, cuddle duds, which gave me a chance to stay home with my kids. I wonder what Nana and Gramps, who were born in the first decade of the 20th century, would think of our Covid-infested world. Maybe they’d like the idea that the entire world has slowed down and become quieter, since they’d no doubt find our usual hectic pace a bit odd. I’m sure they did lots of scavenging during the Great Depression, another time when nothing went to waste. They were composting before composting was even a thing.

And one week ago, Nova Scotia was attacked violently and senselessly by a fiend impersonating an RCMP officer, driving a fully-marked car and wearing a uniform. Twenty-three innocent people lost their lives; countless family members, friends and community people are left devastated; all of this in very rural parts of our tiny province, areas previously most well-known for their peaceful, quiet beauty and friendly people. So many children and grandchildren left without parents and grandparents; there are no words for their kind of sadness. Support and messages of hope have flooded in from around the world, and Nova Scotians stand strong and united, but this is not the way those precious lives were supposed to end.(poignant art: Bruce MacKinnon,THE CHRONICLE HERALD)

10 thoughts on “Masks, Grandparents, and Tragedy: Nova Scotia in the Times of Covid

  1. mirkabreen

    Humans continue to amaze in their capacity for selfless giving and conversely, their capacity for evil doing.
    We are all more raw and tender these days, though the above human traits are ever present. Thank you for all your help and compassion.

  2. Making facemasks is a good thing to do. Thanks. My heart breaks for the people of Nova Scotia and especially for those who lost loved ones. Such sad times.

    1. The RCMP continue to investigate (as they will for months, no doubt), but they had 450 people come forward who either knew the fiend or had video cameras outside to help track his movements. So I just keep making masks compulsively to avoid thinking about those kids…

  3. Oh, Jan, what a tragedy. I’m so sorry. Prayers ascending for your whole community. Yes, I think the facemasks are going to become a normal part of going out, esp. in closed spaces. I’ve been making them too because our kids have jobs at our local grocery store. And our local food pantry has also called for more donations. With many people losing their jobs, I’m not surprised. We’re in this together.

    1. Thanks Vijaya, for your prayers and kind thoughts. I’m still surprised at the number of people working with the public (ex. grocery stores) who aren’t wearing masks. I know it would be uncomfortable for an 8-hour shift, but I always feel more protected when I meet someone else also wearing a mask. It’s a strange thing, having something bad affect the entire world, and you’re right – we are all in this together, like it or not!

  4. Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about the tragedy in Nova Scotia. It is hard when tragedy comes at an already difficult time. I love how the fabric brought up memories of your grandparents. I sew a little, and come from a family line of sewers. I still remember the dresses and doll clothes my mom made for me as a little girl. The sound of the sewing machine at Christmas time always meant good things!

    1. Thanks for checking in, Jenni. Love your last sentence! I have a friend who, when her kids were little, was always up past midnight on Christmas Eve sewing beautiful things for them. I like the productiveness (if that’s a word) of sewing – making something from nothing, sort of. Hope you and yours are staying well.

  5. davewatsonauthor

    What kindness making those face masks and your help to the food pantry. Hopefully, this difficult time will eventually pass. It’s hard to understand how anyone could do such an awful thing. We have too many of these events in the US. I pray everyday that we can someday end this horrific violence

    1. Thanks, Dave. Pretty happy about the even-stricter gun control measures announced by Justin Trudeau yesterday. At least our provincial government has re-opened parks, starting today, so Charlie will be happy. Stay well!

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