Author Carol Lawrance


Perhaps this isolation started me thinking of how Covid-19 has put a twist in so many lives globally.  What this twist will do long term to the human race remains unknown.  It led me to think of my small group of friends and colleagues and situations where one twist in their life had unanticipated consequences.  Thinking about them brought them closer to me.  I am sharing a few small, but true vignettes, of how one twist shaped their lives and affected them.  These are real people, but what I am sharing does not do justice to the richness and uniqueness of their lives.

Linda newly minted MBA and in prime of her career, decides she wants new experiences and accepts a position for three to five years in Hong Kong.  Living in Toronto, she liquidated and said she would start fresh on her return.  A week before leaving the position transferred from Hong Kong to Singapore, (twist).   At this point, she had no choice and went off to Singapore.  The company she worked for sold off the Division.  She decided to stay and found a new position, and then her dream position with University of Chicago which allowed her to travel all over Asia arranging events, conferences, and consulting with graduate students.   The University, after many years, pulled out of Singapore to focus on Hong Kong.  She declined to move to Hong Kong and decided to give herself a year to see if she could survive running her own business.  She is successful and remains there twenty-eight years later, well past her retirement date, with no immediate plans to return to Canada.

Samir, Egyptian, son of a Coptic Bishop and a Canadian immigrant told me after his next vacation he would return with a bride.  He did and they had a very successful arranged marriage.  They had two boys and when teenagers, his father-in-law a general in the Egyptian army immigrated to New York.  They took the boys often to see the grandparents.  New York street scene was alive with Rap and the younger son was absorbed into it on his visits (twist).  When it came time for university, he refused and said he wanted to be a rapper.  The older one was well on his way to his law degree.  This caused a wide riff for many years, but eventually the son’s marriage, a child and some stability with the music industry brought acceptance and reconciliation.

Linda L. celebrating her 40th birthday with her spouse in Club Med, Nassau.  She is sitting on the beach reading a book and her spouse, an expert sail boarder was out riding the waves.  She had been watching him periodically and the last time she looked up she could not see him.  A rogue wave (twist) and upset him, the board hit his head and he drowned.  She never remarried.

Jim, bachelor, who worked 10 years longer to save every penny to return to Toronto and buy a house.  He had been a solo adventurer, travelling to over 92 countries in his lifetime.  He backpacked for a year throughout India.  Now retired his life was clear, to renovate slowly his new home by himself and to travel two to three months a year.  One day, week and dizzy a friend took him to a doctor, a total rarity for him, even with all his travels.  It was flu season, but the doctor thought he should have further checks.  Investigations discovered brain cancer (twist).  The operation removed what was feasible without destroying function.  Prognosis was unknown.  Travel now out of the question and renos now meaningless with the uncertainty.  A seizure, which he could not remember but when described to him, caused him great anxiety about not controlling his life.  The new MAID law, had just recently passed (twist). He decided life was not worthwhile not on his terms and with such uncertainty.  He took advantage of it.

Helen passed over for job she should have had but went to a male colleague left Montreal for Hong Kong.  Her entrepreneurial skills would be her success.  For a woman, at that time, if was difficult and finally she accepted a corporate position.  Shortly afterwards she met the love of her life (twist) and they married quickly.  When he retired, they moved back to the Napa Valley a place for years she hoped to live in retirement.  They spent many happy years there and she became a travel agent.  She had such a large network that soon she was booking the cruises and they were hosting the groups.  They cruised a large part of the year, some four-month world cruises.  With spouse’s health deteriorating, they moved to Southern California to be nearer his daughters.  The California fires struck and they were on the run, not once, but repeatedly as they stayed at friends’ places or motels.  Their home was intact, but the anxiety and stress had deepened his dementia.  He died shortly afterwards in his sleep.  She stayed in California, but in the next year when the fires returned (twist), she had sleepless nights and continuing nightmares.  She returned to Montreal, was regrouping her life, and planning her group cruises when Covid hit (twist).

Twist is a powerful word when it shows up in your life.  It can render you frozen in your steps, it can bring forth pain, but it also can bring forth new strengths and resiliency.  Remembering this as we live through this pandemic (twist) is important to each of us.  The moving on after this twist will be unique for each of us and we all will undoubtedly face new twists in our lives.