Time to reflect on all those who died in service

Ellen Emery

As we continue to reach out to one another from afar, it is truly amazing how technology is keeping us connected.

This week, there have been connections through YouTube and pictures shared of dinners and family. What fun to be connected with our grandchildren and daughter-in-law (and their feline friend, Patches) through a FaceTime call.

There also was a landline telephone call this week that meant a great deal as connections were made across the miles. More than a year ago, I told you about a wonderful visit from a former student of the Clockman, who was then known as the Teacher.

The Clockman was teaching in Northwestern Ohio in 1963. It was then that a student became a close friend, visiting in our home and helping us move to the north country.

More than a year ago, we received a telephone call. (Yes, we still have a landline telephone with the same number we had when we first moved to the north country more than 50 years ago — and we still answer every call!)

The voice on the other end of the telephone line told us it was this former student and friend. He and his wife were camping at the park in Massena and wanted to meet to visit. What a lovely evening we had together reminiscing and catching up with family and friends from a few years ago.

During the evening, we both shared photos of our families that have now been saved to our cellphones. Contacts were exchanged as well so we could keep in touch. Letters were exchanged shortly after our visit with notes shared at Christmas.

Dealing with technology is difficult for me. I love keeping in touch and have learned how to send text messages and emails and view videos on YouTube. (In recent weeks, I have even learned to livestream services on YouTube, although Live Chat is beyond me!)

Dealing with the calendar on my iPad and phone also is beyond me. Every now and then, I will attempt to enter an event. I have even attempted to receive alerts as to my activities, but neither has worked for me.

A few weeks ago, I attempted once again to enter an event in my March calendar. An entry had already been made. On an upcoming day, the name of the gentleman and former student we had visited with a year ago (no, I hadn’t entered anything on that month’s calendar since that visit!) was listed with a birthday to be celebrated.

I honestly had no idea how this gentleman’s birthday had made its way onto my calendar (since I had not entered one other birthday there). I was curious so sent a birthday card with a note explaining why I thought it might be his birthday.

A week ago, we received a telephone call (yes, on our landline). It was the former student from now more than 50 years ago. He had received a birthday card and asked about the birthday announcement I had mentioned in the card. When I explained that it mysteriously appeared on my iPad calendar, he remembered we had exchanged contacts. When he looked at his phone, there it was; his birth date was part of his contacts.

How marvelous that the technology of exchanging contacts included a birth date of a friend. What fun to visit and catch up once again. This week, I am grateful for technology and contacts made across the miles through a handwritten card and a telephone call.


How grateful I am, too, for each faithful column reader. My absolute joy would be to stop at a coffee shop in Massena and visit face to face over coffee on a Wednesday morning.

Last week, I received an email from a faithful column reader. This column reader, Sandra, has enjoyed my Thoughts for the Week, even rewriting them and posting them for remembering.

This week she sent me an email with a reworded quotation for sharing. I had previously used the John Steinbeck quote, “What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?” Sandra not only remembered the earlier quotation but changed a few words as we live in our time of social distancing.

Sandra’s version for this day is “What is the warmth of freedom without the cold of isolation to give it sweetness?” I am sure all of us will enjoy our freedom and embrace it fully after experiencing the isolation and self-quarantine. Thanks, Sandra, for reading and remembering and sharing.


This week, I learned Jim Phillips of Massena was part of a 1970s rock band called Small Wonder. In 1975, he wrote a song titled “Pray for the World,” which was recorded on Columbia Records. As I listened this week on YouTube, the words were striking.

“Pray for the world … gotta help one another.” How appropriate those words seemed today.

My heartfelt thanks to this most skilled and talented musician who not only plays Bach amazingly but wrote a song in 1975 that still speaks today. (He performed with the group on the vinyl record. If I read the record on YouTube properly, he was a keyboardist and vocalist, too!)


My thanks this week to each one at Walmart for their pickup service. What a marvelous offering!

We have been able to order online the items we need, and within a 24-hour period we are able to drive to the pickup area. Within minutes after a telephone call is made, the most wonderful individuals have brought our groceries to our car.

We have used this service now twice with every item I ordered received. When we have stopped to pick up our orders, Hollie and then Ian brought the groceries to our car. The trunk was popped open with the clerks placing the groceries there with no contact at all.

How kind and helpful each was. My heartfelt thanks for this service, which has provided us with the necessities for life at home.


We have watched through our window such an amazing sign of hope this week. The Eastern phoebe, who has built a nest at our home since 1986 has returned. The phoebe parents have been busy building their nest this past week.

While we watch news reports of sickness and death, the bird family builds a nest for their family. What a beautiful sign of hope. How grateful I am for our feathered friends who will now be living nearby.


“Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.”

— Maya Angelou

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