Early this year, North Shore News reader Rosemary Whittey appreciatively dubbed me the “phantom player” for playing old-time hymns and tunes for the most vulnerable and isolated during the pandemic (letter, Feb 4).
It’s been a privilege to share these simple gospel tunes in Lower Lonsdale and elsewhere on Sundays. But now that we can move about more freely, it’s time to hang up the horn and go back into care facilities with my ukulele, harmonica and my Bible!
I hope the measures that forced such terrible isolation never arise again. That said, I will miss the wonderful encouragement I received from passers-by. There have been occasional tears, for example, when the hymn played at the funeral of a loved one is heard after many years. Some have given me gifts, including money, which has gone to Salvation Army or my church. The cookies, however, I enjoyed at home (after playing, of course, otherwise the cornet would get all gunked up).
Not going away entirely, I do on occasion play my horn in parks on Sunday afternoons. And I’ll be back out again this Christmas-time accompanying the Sally Ann kettles.
In the meantime, for those who take delight and comfort from the hymns I played, there’s a newly reopened church nearby that wants to welcome you with equally open arms. It’s been there a long time, and it misses you.
Adieu (to God be the glory),
The Phantom Player
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