This group of neighbours hasn’t missed a day since they started to honour COVID-19 first responders. (Submitted)

This group of neighbours hasn’t missed a day since they started to honour COVID-19 first responders. (Submitted)

Sarah Simpson Column: Healthcare workers saluted daily by Duncan neighbours

This is a bit of a milestone column for me. It’s the 200th one I’ve written. That’s almost four years worth of columns that have poured forth from my pudgy fingers now and I’d like to think the majority of them have made at least a few people chuckle. I will say though, that there have been a few weeks that I’ve missed publishing a column — but not too many. I always end up breaking my streak.

Things happen.

Life happens.

I sometimes get sick, or the kids are sick. There was that time I was laid off for a month or so early into the COVID-19 shutdowns so you didn’t hear from me then. Mostly though, my column may be bumped due to a holiday weekend or another story that desperately needed to make the paper that week.

Regardless of why, I’ve missed a few weeks over the last four years. It’s hard to keep a streak going.

We all know that early on in the pandemic the evening salute to the health care workers and first responders was a big deal.

You just had to poke your head outside at 7 p.m. to hear the pots and pans and claps and cheers that, for a while there anyway seemed to get louder each night. Even the emergency vehicles did a regular parade through the hospital parking lot and boy, was it a sight to see. And hear. We had to keep the kids inside the car the night we went to chronicle it for the newspaper. It was too loud for their little ears. To be frank, it was too loud for my ears, too.

As time went on, however, the evening salutes got more and more quiet and then, at some point, not too much noise could be heard at all. The nightly practice seemed to just peter out.

Maybe it was the weather? Maybe folks just stopped as winter set in. Maybe it was apathy? Maybe it was just parents like me knowing the evening pots and pans noise party was in the middle of bedtime and it was fine for a while but the kids needed to get back to their regular routines.

In truth, I believe that nobody really anticipated the pandemic to go on this long and what they thought was a show of short-term support turned into something they quite simply couldn’t continue on with indefinitely.

The irony is, though, that back when we were cheering and thanking the hospital staff and whatnot, the COVID-19 situation hadn’t truly emerged in the Cowichan Valley. No doubt the caretakers could have used bigger, louder cheers this fall and spring as compared to last. Maybe it’s time to bring back the evening salute?

For one group of neighbours, though, the salute has never dissipated. Like I said, streaks are hard to maintain and I guess that’s why I was really impressed to learn that this particular group of seven neighbours from five homes just inside the entrance to Creek Trail Properties on Truesdale Street have gathered every night at 7 p.m. — without fail — for well over a year, “to acknowledge the courageous work of our health care workers.”

Talk about a streak!

“They gather to exchange stories of daily happenings and then at 7 p.m. they ring bells and bang pots and pans in thanks for the ongoing work of those dedicated health workers who continue to serve us through the ongoing pandemic,” explained Lynn Thompson, whose wife is part of the group. “They have not missed a day through cold, rain, snow and darkness of winter and oppressive heat of summer. It is a testament to their dedication and appreciation for the work of others.”

Throughout history there’ve been stories of epic streaks, but they’re mostly related to sports.

The Baltimore Orioles’ Cal Ripken Jr. played 2,632 consecutive baseball games over 16 years.

Jon Sutherland holds the record for running 16,797 days in a row, according to the United States Running Streak Association. That’s more than 45 years of at least one mile per day.

UCLA men’s basketball won seven straight national championships starting in 1967.

Squash player Jahangir Khan won 555 straight matches between 1981 and 1986.

I’d like to think that when you come of a certain age, doing something, anything, every day for more than a year is an athletic accomplishment. I’m not sure though, if anyone counts the records for daily salutes to health care workers. If they did though, Cowichan’s own group of seven has got to be in the running and, no doubt, Betty, Linda, Al, John, Ted, Ainslie and Doug would be thrilled if you’d join them to continue the streak.

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This group of neighbours hasn't missed a day since they started to honour COVID-19 first responders. (Submitted)

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