By Greg Price
Several Albertans had their issues travelling abroad in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and Municipal District of Taber councillor Brian Brewin was no different, along with his wife Deb.
The long-time married couple embarked on a romantic cruise, leaving Fort Lauderdale, and making their way to Jamaica and Columbia before making their way to Panama and Costa Rica.
“We were supposed to port in Cayman Islands, but we had a few issues. We had a couple of crew members who transferred over from the Royal Carribean and that ship had tested positive for the COVID virus. But these people transferred before they found out,” said Deb Brewin.
“They were asked to be tested so we stopped in Cayman Islands for a test kit and we had a no sail order for a couple of days.”
The crew members would eventually test negative, but there was still plenty of information flowing to the ship about how the pandemic was spreading throughout the world.
“There were a few stations we had and we were getting international news,” said Brian, where when the Brewins left for the cruise, there were no diagnosed cases yet of the Coronavirus in the province of Alberta. “There were five cases (in other parts of the country) when we left. Then we come home to this (259 confirmed cases as of Sunday).”
Knee deep in their 14-day quarantine from having travelled abroad, the couple who are going on 35 years of marriage, have found the experience making their union even stronger, even though both are considered extroverts who do not like to be cooped up.
“Brian likes to do the dishes,” said Deb with a laugh in a telephone interview with the Times last week.
Given both of their jobs, there has not been much down time anyway working from home.
Although Brian sheepishly and jokingly admits not to get carried away thinking cooking and other chores are split evenly as the patriarch of the family.
“I am allowed to work at home from the PGA (Potato Growers of Alberta) office, so my week so far has been crazy busy because I am a communications person. I’ve been extremely busy sending out everything that is coming my way and posting it on our website and social media, and sending it out to our membership,” said Deb Brewin. “Brian has been on constant conference calls with the M.D., every day, all day long.”
“There’s lots going on as you well now with closures etc. (in the M.D.),” added Brian Brewin. “But with the technology, it’s made life simpler for sure.”
Knowing each other from decades of marriage has made cabin fever of self-isolation more manageable, and their bonds are even stronger than they were before, and it’s not only them, but numerous Taberites and M.D. residents who are practicing social distancing even if they haven’t travelled from outside the country.
“I’d say it’s brought our marriage closer together. It sort of brings what’s important home,” said Brian. “It highlights what’s truly important in the world which is family and friends.”
Factoring the time abroad and their self isolation, Brian and Deb have not seen their kids or grandkids since Feb. 28.
“I hadn’t even been in town to see what’s going on. I’ve seen pictures of all the shelves being absolutely cleared out and we hadn’t been in town to experience that,” said Deb. “I’m a little apprehensive even after our quarantine where we will have to get groceries. We have really good family and friends who are always checking on us and keeping communicated with our family. I don’t feel truly isolated being a very social person, but not having that physical contact is tough.”
Living out on the farm and isolated, the couple is still able to get out for walks in the fresh air and work with cattle, as long a people are avoided.
“We are lucky that way because a lot of people are stuck in their apartments and little areas so they can’t get out. We are still getting our Vitamin D and sitting on the deck. We are the few that are able to do that, living away from town,” said Deb, adding even marital bliss has its bumps in the road at times, as factoring in the cruise until late last week, both Deb and Brian have seen a lot of each other. “There are times we get on each other’s nerves. All couples do. We are used to having more space, but we’ve been together for 22 days straight.”
Those who have lived in North America have been blessed wth co-habitating in areas wth plenty of space to roam, but as Canada continues to be in lockdown due to the Coronavirus, the Brewins add people can take it as as a moment in time to either tear people apart or bring them together.
“You make the most of it. That bonding together, it has been a good time for that,” said Brian.
“Prioritizing what’s important. You soon find out what’s important. You have to make the most out of a bad situation which is really what it comes down to. You can’t change that there is a virus, but you can (lessen its impact).”
“I feel like there are people who are coming together in the community and helping their neighbours and their families who are struggling. But I also know there are still people out there that still don’t have the help who kind of feel secluded. But, if we all do our part and knock on their doors to see how they are doing. I know we are supposed to self isolate, but you have to check to see if people are doing OK too,” added Deb. “Check on your neighbours, check on strangers. It’s so important.”
Forced family time can be a good thing as Deb noted, where there will be more creative ways families spend time together in four walls of a house over prolonged amount of time.
“It’s a chance to re-set the family unit. Everything happens for a reason and as horrible of a situation as this is, there is good that can come from it and that’s spending quality time together,” said Deb. “It’s reaching out and helping one another and working together. Don’t be selfish and try and do your part. We are all in this together and if we do our part we will flatten the curve and hopefully get back to a new normal.”