Some Sunny Day
Covid has shifted our world and changed our priorities. For many, the hopes and dreams for the aftertimes are simple ones – to hug a parent, have dinner with a friend.
“We’ll meet again
Don’t know where, Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again
Some sunny day.
“Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
’Til the blue skies drive The dark clouds far away.”
Britain, late 1939. World War II has just begun, and people are tensely holding their breath as the “Phoney War” plays out. During this relatively quiet prelude to the all-out fighting that will dominate much of the world for the next six years, no one is sure about what will happen next. But the armed forces are mobilizing and a 22-year-old singer has released a recording that will become an iconic song of the war years.
For loved ones, whether at home or in the heat of battle, Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again” will dominate radios in living rooms and cafés, on troop ships and in lorries. The song lifts minds, hopes and hearts, and will become a timeless aural artifact. Lynn, knighted Dame Vera Lynn, died only last year at the age of 103. Her song remains.
Headwaters, early 2021. The dark clouds of Covid-19 are far from far away. They linger. And linger. Masks, social distancing, ennui and worry have become the new normal, and it’s hard to keep smiling through each new spike and lockdown. But we try, we mask, we hope.
What will the post-Covid “sunny day” look like? We may not know where, we may not know when, but we asked a hopeful handful of Headwaters residents to speculate on how it will arrive for them, and to tell us about the music that has seen them through the worst. Here in their own words is what they said.
A native of Scotland – never accuse him of being British! – Jim Robb immigrated to Canada in 1966. The former Toronto police officer, now 84, is a resident of the Lord Dufferin Centre in Orangeville.
Oh, I recognize the song “We’ll Meet Again.” That song was sung to the troops going overseas to fight in the war. You would hear it on the radio everywhere. I remember my mother singing “We’ll Meet Again” to me. I think its feelings could be connected to today. It brought hope. It brought people together.
People were scared. After the alarms went off, searchlights would come on, tracking German planes coming over. I recall it very well. We had masks, gas masks you took with you. You had to hide your lights at nighttime, cover your windows with black cloth so no light escaped from your house. We were rationed. You got ration books and were allowed to buy X number of things. Very little. I never knew what candies were.
You were taken away from your parents. Most of the children were moved to the countryside. I was moved out of Glasgow to a place called Balfron. I was away one or two years.
It was a different type of war from today, but the same sentiment applies. The unknown. You had no control over it. Your friends and relatives were going overseas to fight and you had no idea if they were coming back again. We didn’t know what was going to happen in the war, and we don’t know what is going to happen during the pandemic. This is just as dangerous.
I doubt that the hope expressed in “We’ll Meet Again” can be drawn from the songs of today. Hope in a rap song? Far from it!
But I think the proper word for the feeling here in the Lord Dufferin Centre would be “hopeful.” We watch the television news. In all the retirement homes in Toronto, for instance, every night on the news, there’s more and more people dying. Up to this point, here in the Lord Dufferin Centre we’re absolutely clear of any scares, any Covid.
It will be amazing when Covid ends. It will take a bit of getting used to. Getting close to people. In the summers here, I spent most afternoons outside in the sun. I miss fresh air. I miss sunshine. We’re not allowed out of the building.
I look forward to seeing my sons, Neil and Jim. Neil lives in Grand Valley, and Jim lives in Brampton. I would invite them for dinner. I’d like to go out to a restaurant. It has been a long time since I was in a restaurant. I would gather some friends and go to Mrs. Mitchell’s, one of my favourites.
I remain hopeful, and I’ll stay that way. I’m a stubborn old bugger! I get hope from family. I talk to my sons on the telephone as often as possible. I’m positive about things. I was a police officer for a lot of years – I had to be positive to do that job.
I believe in people.
Editor’s Note: Sadly, Jim Robb did not get to experience his hoped for Sunny Day. He passed away suddenly on March 27. Our deep condolences to his sons, extended family and friends.
Melancthon resident Carolyn O’Neill, 52, is a FedEx courier whose territory encompasses Dufferin County, but in her 32 years with the company, she has delivered parcels and packages all over Headwaters. During Covid, seeing her FedEx truck pull up to make a delivery is a highlight of many people’s day.
I go down driveways that I’ve never gone down before because of this pandemic. I’m going to be going down those driveways a lot more in the near future. I’m no doctor, but I think we have one more year of this. Maybe two.
In the last five years a lot of online shoppers, the elderly in particular, were not comfortable using credit cards online. Now everyone is comfortable and we’re getting deliveries to them. It’s easier to find what they need online than going to get it. It’s part of the new normal. That’s why we’re so busy.
Everybody loves it when I show up. I’ve always been appreciated. When the people think of FedEx in Dufferin County, they think of me. They’re not always going to get me, but I’m who they think is coming. As I’m running back to my truck, they’re outside their door saying thanks. Everybody is home. Everybody’s outside. They look happy.
“Frontline worker” is very true. I’m proud. I deliver people’s meals. I delivered a chair to a young girl. She needed it for schoolwork. I deliver medicine to people every day. Last week, I lost a customer who I delivered to weekly. Cancer. Which is heartbreaking. Things people can’t go get, I’m delivering. Everyone I deliver to has a story.
I don’t know the song “We’ll Meet Again.” I’m going to look it up. I’m not a song person. I listen to AM640 Global News Radio all day in the truck.
At home my husband, John, and I listen to country music. Garth Brooks. His music puts a smile on my face. But I always have a smile on my face, that’s the problem! I have a picture of me smiling at his concert in Hamilton two or three years ago. It would be cool if Garth Brooks sang “We’ll Meet Again.”
I’ll have to fly to see her, but after Covid is over, my mom is the person I’d like to see the most. She lives in Newfoundland. She’s 72. We’d be crying and hugging at the airport. Then I’ll go see all my family, and we’ll play a few card games with her and her sisters. Probably have a kitchen party. And get someone to take us cod fishing in Gander Bay.
No, it doesn’t matter if we don’t catch many, but we’d catch some anyway! That would be my “sunny day.” Fishing – with my mom.
Nurse Jennifer Murphy-Novak, 43, is manager, intensive care unit and acute medicine, at Headwaters Health Care Centre.
One song that enters my mind a lot during the workday is “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers. Though the lyrics sound a bit uncertain, I find them hopeful and encouraging.
“When the day that lies ahead of me
Seems impossible to face
When someone else instead of me
Always seems to know the way.”
The song reminds me of a mentor of mine that loved Bill Withers, and though she doesn’t work alongside me any longer, her leadership and role-modelling helped to foster skills that immensely assisted me.
The lyrics remind me of togetherness and connection with other people. Particularly during these confusing and challenging times, we are in this pandemic together and we will see the other side of this pandemic together.
I don’t listen to music at work. I’m too busy. I’m masked. All the shifts are masked. It will be that “sunny day” when those masks aren’t required for sure! I miss being able to have a coffee with my coworkers without having to social-distance, being able to have team meetings that aren’t just virtual.
My sister, Katie, recently moved from Orangeville to Kitchener. She was part of my bubble. That bubble has been popped. I would visit with my sister, ideally on a beach. Or just have a coffee on a nice patio and catch up. Mochaberry on Broadway in Orangeville would be great!
There’s lots of extra work for Covid, well beyond our normal shifts. Planning and reviewing new guidelines that come from Ontario Health. It has added extra hours to everyone’s work life – weekends, evenings for sure. It is emotional every day, especially when you see people struggling with Covid.
My colleagues are definitely stepping up, taking on roles that are not necessarily within the job they were hired for. We’re going beyond. Helping patients maintain contact with families through technology – iPads, Zoom. Everyone is working to strict guidelines, working 12-hour shifts masked, working with respirators, with PPE – personal protective equipment – that is almost industrial-looking. Working through that. People are making the best of it.
It is a challenge to keep smiling.
Music is the “biggest light” for Orangeville singer-songwriter Sara Rose. In 2019, she released her second album, We Could Be Beautiful, and she recently published her first book, So Now What? One Foot in Front of the Other. She is now working on new music, a second memoir and a novel.
The music industry is a tough one. It takes a lot of persistence and hard work, but that helps you grow as a person and as a musician.
With Covid, people still do music, live-streaming events from their own home, which is great. It is what you make it. But conversation on a computer screen, we have all come to know, is not the same as seeing people in person and giving them a big hug.
I didn’t know “We’ll Meet Again.” I’ve been listening to it. It is a very hopeful song – so powerful, so fitting. Even with Covid, sitting in the depths of this worldly unrest, it is hopeful, and people need hope right now. Some day, no one knows when, if we all hope and do our part, we can find a new normal and be together. Music is one of the vehicles that provides hope.
A lot of people have turned to music during Covid. In stressful times my go-to is music. Music is a necessity for so many people – to breathe, to look within, to rejuvenate, to validate how they’re feeling. In whatever form, art can serve as a support in adversity.
I’ve expanded the genres I listen to. Covid has created a lot of anxiety, so I listen to a lot of calming music to ground myself, to appreciate music I may not have delved into – instrumental music, orchestras. I’ve grown to appreciate Taylor Swift even more.
During the time of the first lockdown in 2020, I wrote a song called “Come Home.” I wrote it specifically for Covid.
“Where were you when the world fell still and an unseen ruin took the streets?
Staring at the phone ’cause we’re scared and alone and uncertainty weighs a thousand stones
But you do your best, it’ll be over soon, do your part and hold onto hope
Everybody’s saying when I see you again, I won’t let go.”
I was lucky. My family could have a bubble. We do video chats. The first person I would see would probably be my grandfather in Mississauga. Just to do anything – go for a walk, sit and have a nice visit. Anything. Enjoy how grand the little things are that we didn’t really notice before. Hugs. When this is over we’ll stop and lean harder into that love.
I am hopeful. My hope has been tested during Covid, but in the end, hope helps.
Laura Campbell is co-owner of Pia’s on Broadway in Orangeville. She and her husband, Xel, live in Mono with their seven-year-old son, Kipp, and five-year-old daughter, Owynne.
I’m not musical, but I like music. Yes, I know “We’ll Meet Again.”
“Some sunny day” I’ll meet all my customers, my community, the people I’ve spent the past 10 years with in the loop of their lives, but I can’t meet now. “Where” will be at Pia’s, hopefully, once everyone is vaccinated and we’re beyond the day when it’s dangerous to see one another face to face. When? In a year … by September.
Our community has kept us going, getting takeaways. It’s reciprocal. I’m given hope by all the people working so hard to support one another. People support small local businesses, and we support our community by continuing to provide fresh, healthy foods at the best price we can. I support local food banks, bake things for friends. Little acts of kindness give me hope, finding moments of lightness in this dark time.
We listen to a lot of music, a lot of records. I support Aardvark Music & Culture on Orangeville’s main drag. I go probably every other week. I had a small record collection. It has really grown over the course of Covid!
A favourite album of ours is the classic A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, the original soundtrack recording of the CBS television special. I grew up listening to it. It’s so good! It gives me and the kids hope and joy.
If we want to relax we listen to Pink Moon by Nick Drake.
I’m home three days a week with the kids. Oh, they are aware there is a pandemic. We’re part of synchronous learning online. We get material sent from the school and we home school. We do try to get outside every day to play, toboggan, skate. The kids’ hope is to go back to school, to see their friends. They miss the familiar routines of school that mark the seasons.
I reassure the kids it will all be over soon. One day they’ll look back and it will just be a distant memory.
Both Aliya Hodgson’s grandparents and her mother caught Covid-19. The 17-year-old Grade 11 student at Westside Secondary School in Orangeville worried for them and self-isolated at home, fearful she might catch the virus and fail her school year.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard of “We’ll Meet Again.”
I listen to music every hour of the day – BTS, Trippie Redd, Juice WRLD, K-pop, rap.
A hopeful song? There’s one – Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song.” When it first came out, people listened to it all the time on repeat. People made videos about how it inspired them – to lose weight, try out for a new sport, beat cancer. During times like now, it gives me hope that all of us will get through Covid and get back to normal, if we just keep fighting and following all the rules.
I was worried about my grandparents’ health and safety when they caught Covid. Luckily they didn’t need to go to the hospital. They were okay.
At home I had to stay in my room and stay away from my mom [In The Hills ad designer Marion Hodgson], even though we were in the same house. My mom collapsed on the stairs one day. I had to help her to the bathroom, get her ice packs. She couldn’t stand up or walk. I was really, really scared. I didn’t like to talk about it. Two months later she still wasn’t completely over it. Doing simple tasks she still got tired quickly and had to stop, but she has now fully recovered.
The whole time we were quarantined, I was worried I would get Covid. I was always checking, but I never did. It was hard. I couldn’t go to school and I thought I was going to fail. I listened to music, texted my friends, tried to destress. I baked a lot – brownies, a cake and cookies, sugar and chocolate chip twice! I even made and decorated a cake for my grandmother’s birthday.
I never liked school, having to wake up early, but during Covid I missed going to school because I couldn’t see anyone. I couldn’t easily ask my teachers for help and I couldn’t go for extra help. Online learning is pretty difficult. I appreciate going to school now.
We’ve made a lot of progress since the beginning of Covid. Vaccinations are coming. Yay, [at age 17] I’ll be last!
I’m very hopeful that by summer we’ll be almost over Covid. After more than two month of not seeing Karli, my best friend who lives just up the road, we were able to meet up. We talked about things we missed over Christmas break, school, if we are getting good grades still, watched our favourite movies together.
I’m still looking forward to seeing my boyfriend, Kahleel, probably at Angels’ Diner in Orangeville, a diner I love to go to.
And I plan to keep baking!
These interviews have been edited for length.
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