Time to reflect on all those who died in service

Ellen Emery

The date at the top of the page today is April 1. It is the beginning of a new month, a month that we anticipate will be filled with the marvelous signs of springtime and hope.

I have previously shared with you my dislike for the designation of this first day of April as April Fool’s Day. I honestly cannot imagine ever spending a day playing pranks on family members and friends. This year as no other, April Fool’s Day should be eliminated and transformed into a day of kindness and love for those who are our new superheroes, the ones who are caring for patients who have the novel coronavirus and for each of us as we live in this new world.

There was a day set aside in February as a Random Act of Kindness Day. Perhaps we could honor this first day of April with a day of intentional acts of kindness. I would ask each one of you to share a kindness, a deliberate act of kindness, with someone in the supermarket, perhaps sharing an item from your grocery cart that is needed by another or perhaps demonstrating kindness with a neighbor or friend who is now experiencing loneliness at home.


How marvelous it has been to watch on news reports as residents of New York City have all applauded the work of health care workers, applauding from their windows in their apartment buildings. It has been an extraordinary sight watching as appreciation has been shown for the caring individuals who work long hours each day caring for the desperately ill.

I have thought about the applauding appreciation as I have watched from our Bombay home and realized we couldn’t applaud on Route 95 for no one would hear. Our neighbors might hear, although probably not at this moment for our windows are closed to the cold.

My applause is now in printed form. I would hope each health care worker in a doctor’s office (for us it is Dr. Joanne and Dr. Neil Cichetti), a walk-in clinic or in the hospital, first-responders, firefighters and police officers would hear my applause today. How appreciative we are of your shared skilled expertise and your caring hearts.

And this week I am also applauding our local stores and the workers in each. I understand both Walmart and Price Chopper are offering early hours for those of us in the “elderly,” high-risk category. Last week, the Clockman and I ventured out to shop for needed food items at Walmart at 6 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. How amazing — the cashiers and store clerks were there at 6 a.m. (which means they had to arrive much earlier).

Each one was friendly, cheerful and so helpful. There were so many warm, cheerful wishes of “Good Morning.”

This week, we are attempting to shop through an online order and a pick-up; someone else will fill the cart and do the work of shopping. How grateful we are for each one. Please hear my applause for the new superheroes in our lives — the store clerks who also are going the extra mile for each of us who are working to comply with the social distancing guidelines, which is out of concern for each one.


There has been a golden thread woven through my life this week: the healing aspect of music. I have honestly attempted to make good use of this extended time at home.

This past week, I have worked cleaning out drawers, drawers that haven’t had contents sorted for some time. I found pictures of dear friends from now perhaps 20 years ago. There were placemats this non-crafty mom actually made for our oldest son Joel’s birthday party (they were in the shape of hockey pucks and sticks more years ago than I would like to admit) and handcrafted, colored napkin rings made by our youngest son who now is an artist in New York City. Yes, I have the early work of Gregg Emery.

Among the pictures there was a manila folder with the title, “Healing Power of Music October 2001.” Articles in this file, that I honestly don’t remember even putting together, include one from Denyce Graves, an opera star who sang (the article tells us) at a prayer service following 9/11.

“When the images become too difficult to watch, many of us turn to music to stir our souls, to heal us …” the artist said. How true her words were especially during this time as we deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

It seemed this week that so many were looking to music to uplift and comfort. How beautiful the music was as I watch televised clips of young people singing separately but their voices joined in harmony via the internet, singing “What the world needs now is love.” And how wonderful the voice of Kristen Chenowith was as she sat in her kitchen and sang, “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” complete with her added sign language.

The voice of Lesley Odom Jr. singing in his home and the Sofa Signers. More than 500 strangers from throughout the world (a daughter in England and a mother in Oklahoma) connected through the harmony of their voices and the internet singing “Lean On Me” also touched my heart. People were reaching out, joining in song alone together.

But for me by far the most uplifting music this week was that of Massena resident James C. Phillips. I have two CDs of the music of this remarkable, skilled musician.

Both CDs though are Christmas music (which I love), but I was searching for other music. I went to YouTube and found this amazing man’s music.

What a joy it was to listen and watch as he played Johann S. Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor BMV 565.” What a joy it is to not only hear this extraordinary work, but through YouTube you can see the marvelous musician at the keyboard — his fingers flying across the keyboards and his feet moving smoothly through the pedalboard.

Another favorite you certainly must listen to is “Finale 1812 Overture.” That, too, is amazing!

And on Sunday as I listened to Jim’s music at the keyboard, I looked up and saw a framed sign that was made by a friend’s daughter-in-law for Christmas. The wording in that sign said it all: “Music Soothes the Soul.”

I agree completely. If you are looking for music to sooth your soul this week, take a moment and search the internet for the music of James C. Phillips.

I know you won’t be disappointed. How grateful I am for music this week and the shared talent of north country musician James Phillips.


“Music brings a stability to humanity …it’s soothing, comforting and reminds us there is still beauty in this world.”

— Denyce Graves

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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