Name: Dawn Dixon
Family: Four living children (Andrew, Courtney, Melissa & Rebecca) daughter Amanda (passed away at birth), 2 son-in-laws and four grandchildren
Profession: Continuing Care Aid at the Grenfell Pioneer Home
Years in Grenfell: 36
Where did you grow up?
I grew up 8 miles away, in the big town of Summerberry. I was just talking about this the other day...I was a very outdoorsy child. Picking up snakes, picking up lizards, picking up mice, trying to save them from dogs. Then they'd bite me, so I'd throw them away for the dogs to eat. I was the youngest of 8 kids. That's why I spent all my time outside. My brother's couldn't beat me up if I was outside.
How many different careers/jobs have you had?
I started babysitting for Chris Kardash when I was 13 years old. They lived next door to us. So that would be job #1. Then when I turned 16 I was a dishwasher, then a waitress. I really liked waitressing because I like people. I know people think it's strange. People say "why would you want to be a waitress?" Because, I love people! You get to meet so many different people. Shirley & Claude Sinot owned the Esso then. Let's see... then I became a mother. That's a lifetime job. Continues to grow and grow and grow. Day after day. Then I was a cook. I've cooked in restaurants. I was a caretaker at the Apostolic Church for 9 years. I didn't mind that job. What else... I worked in home care before I went into the Care home as a CCA. I was a caretaker at the high school as a fill in and will be doing that again. I like that too, because it's just boring, random stuff, sweeping floors, and not having to make any really strong decisions. Should I sweep and mop this floor, or shouldn't I? (laughter). I think that actually might be it for jobs.
What is your favorite time of year?
Holidays! (laughter) My most favorite season is spring. I think I pretty much have the same reasons as Mike (Zorn - a previous interview where he got the same question) I like to see everything wake up. It's like you come out of this long winter slumber and feel ugh. I do not like winter. I could have snow on December 24th... actually, it doesn't even have to come. Who says you have to have snow for Christmas. You don't have to. Spring and Fall. Fall is pretty too.
If you had to give a 30 minute impromptu lecture about something, what would it be about?
It would be about how to treat the elderly. That's what it would be about, because I teach a course called Gentle Persuasive Approach. I don't teach it, I coach it. It's all about dementia, and how to respectfully treat people. Most of it is common sense, but lots of people don't have that anymore. It's sad... it's really sad. I just taught it on friday in Regina, and it's really sad that you have to tell people that you should give people a choice... "Would you like to wear this shirt or this shirt? Would you like to have oatmeal, or something else for breakfast?" It's sad that you have to teach this. It's something I'm really passionate because sometimes we tend to treat them like they're not human beings anymore, and that they don't have a thought process and they don't have a mind. Sometimes we treat them like they don't matter, and we say things that are harmful. Not just to them, but to their families, because sometimes you're overheard. And I think elder abuse is on the rise, and I think there are reasons for it. People are stressed out, BUT, that's no excuse. When I took the course to learn how to teach this, they said it takes a generation to change a culture. And we're just beginning in Saskatchewan with this new culture of respect. We have to let them be who they are, and treat them like they're still human beings. I wish we could have a pet in the pioneer home. I think if we could have a dog, or a cat - pet therapy is amazing. I've seen where they've used chickens... I'm opposed to that! But a dog or a cat would really boost a lot of people. When people bring their pets, they love it. But there are just so many silly regulations. And kids. If we could get kids incorporated in there somehow - not at length. Not for hours. But a little bit of time where they could come visit, or do a craft. I think it wouldn't just be beneficial to the residents, but for the kids as well. There are a lot of kids that don't have grandparents. I never knew mine. So when I was really sick in the hospital once, I adopted the woman that was in next to me. She became my grandma. We kept in touch until she died.
What is your favorite way to spend a free day?
I actually like to go into Regina. I go into Regina - people say 'You go in by yourself??' Ya. Cause then I can eat where I want, and shop where I want. I can do whatever I want. This past friday I did that. I had to go into see the chiropractor, so I did that, then met with a friend for coffee, to show her pictures of my trip to Croatia. Then I just bummed around and bought a sandwich for supper and went to Wascana Park and sat and watched people. It doesn't bother me at all. I have no problem doing that. Then I went to see Sean & Jess (friends) and had a fire. If I have a free day, I like to get out of here. Get out of Dodge. But really. I can do my housework after I'm done work. I can do my yardwork after I'm done work. But if I have a free day, I'm gone.
If you had one year to live, how would you live it?
If I had one year to live and unlimited money... well, you'd sell your car, max out your credit cards. Whatever. Who cares, you're dying! But then what if??....as long as it wasn't a sick year! Cause that's the thing. If you only have one year to live, it's usually because you're sick. But let's say I wasn't sick and didn't have to worry about illness. How would I live it? My dream has always been, that I would travel around visiting missionaries who are working in other countries, to encourage them. That's what I've always dreamed of being able to do. Because I don't want to be a missionary myself, I'd like to be able to go and say "Hey. Is there anything I can do for you? Anything I can help with?" Practical things, non practical things. I just think that would be really fun. You could see all kinds of different parts of the world.
What's the last place you went on a holiday?
The last place I went on a holiday was Croatia. I travelled by plane, boat, train, motorcycle and pedal bike, and a rickshaw. An electric one. We thought he'd never be able to pull us, but I said, Look. He's hiring himself out. So whatever. Then he starts it up, and we realized it was electric. We had so much fun with him. Once of the best things about this trip was actually just getting to hang out with my sister, because she's 7 years older than me and we don't spend a lot of time together. We balance each other out really well. I'm a little more adventurous than she is and she kind of stabilizes and makes the plans. But I got her out and about a little more. She's been to Croatia 5 times, but hadn't seen 90% of what we saw. She never had anyone to do those things with before. There were three really good things. Being with her was #1. Number two was being at the Adriadic Sea and hearing the Sea Organ - google it if you don't know what it is, because it's worth it. And the Monument to the Sun that lights up a round dance floor, and dancing on the Monument to the Sun by myself, at sunset. That was a highlight. And I had never been on a motorcycle before, and the one we went on was a racing bike. I liked the freedom and the speed. I would recommend Croatia to anybody. It was a really good place and the people are so nice. And the country is just beautiful. And cheap! That's actually the first real holiday I've ever been on. I mean real holiday, where it wasn't about my kids, where it wasn't a camping trip in the mountains or something like that. It's the first time I've been out of North America. We never once felt afraid, and we were off the beaten path all the time. We would make decisions to stay somewhere, and an hour later have a place to stay. And we always had someone helping us. We looked for teens-30ish aged people to see if they spoke English. People there are just really, really nice. It made me think. If someone from a foreign country, which we have here, came into this community, and asked me for help, how helpful would I be? We had people make phone calls for us, to find our place. People made phone calls to get us an Uber. I just think, how helpful would I be? We just met so many intersting people. I learned that it's ok to be open, and it's o.k to ask questions. I felt so different over there. I was my silly, crazy self. Nobody is going to know me. I can do silly things. Thing that when I do them here, someone will maybe say, No. Don't do that. Life is short. Have some fun.
Money is no object. Do you quit your job?
Hmmm. You know what? I think I would quit my job, BUT I would somehow want to become a consultant, going into nursing homes where they're having issues with a resident, or not knowing how to handle somebody, and helping them learn how to care for them. I think that's what I'd like to do. I don't know that I'm qualified, but I like to think I am. I just think that would be a dream job. So yes, I would quit my job, but really, I'd just revamp it. And the rest of the time, I'd travel. Have a house here, a house there. A house in Grand Prairie and one in Surrey, so I could be around all my children. And not be in their houses.
What is the coolest thing you're doing in your life right now?
In September, I signed up to take ballroom dancing lessons in Regina, and I'm going to credit Chris Kardash for this. One day she was over at my house, and I have this wall print that says "Be Bold, Be Brave, Be You" and she says "You know Dawn, you have to find something brave to do. Something that you've always wanted to do, but you just couldn't do" And I said, you know what? I've always wanted to take ballroom dancing lessons. So I looked it up, and I found out where you can take it, and I found out you didn't need a partner. I'll put in a plug for them, it only costs $100 for the whole year. You go once a week, from September to December, then from January to March, and you learn 8 different kind of dances. Or maybe 3 per session? Anyway, it was so much fun and I laughed so much. They have partners there for you and some of them were quite humorous. I'd never danced before in my life - and I'm 54 years old. What does that say? It was so much fun. I was amazed. I was really terrified the first night I walked in, but after I'd spent $85 on shoes, I thought I have to do this, cause I'm not wasting any money - because you do have to have special shoes. I walked in and they were so nice. I met this girl who was 29, who came all by herself too. Well, if she could do it, then so could I. There was a group of four of us women who all came by ourselves, and we were all different ages. And recently, they were at the pioneer home - my dance instructors came. I brought my shoes and I got to dance again. They brought two other couples with them, and for about 45 minutes just danced different dances and they asked me which one I'd like to do, so I did the waltz, because it was my all time favorite one. And I was terrified. I was so nervous, but it's so silly. My male instructor said, of course you are. It's different in front of strangers than people who all know you, and are videoing you! I recommend it to people wherever I go, because it's so cheap and it's such a good outing, and such good exercise if you want to look at it that way.
What was your favorite subject in school?
You know what? I loved going to school. I love learning stuff. People think I'm weird. I love taking exams. I do! That's why I sign up for surveys. I'm serious! People think I'm weird. I do the Insightrix surveys. My favorite subject though was probably English. I don't know if I was really good at it, but I like to write, so I loved essays, because then I could just ramble on and on and on. And I probably did, because I like to write stuff. I loved school. Well, I loved the academic part of school. I did not love the social part of school. So every chance I get, at the Pioneer home, if there's a course to take, I sign up for it. I think it's good to learn new stuff. It doesn't hurt us.