Feb 212011

It was many years ago that a friend told me about a new management opportunity opening up as


an assistant store manager.



He knew that I had become increasingly unhappy in my present job. I’d enjoyed retailing…


starting out as a manager trainee in a large department store and quickly working my up to my


present position of sales manager; but now I was placed into a “big box” type of mass merchandising.




Where there was once the grace of personable service at the department store; there was now a


new breed of retailers, with an almost crass obsession of giving the multitudes what they wanted


… more and more cheap stuff, stuffed to the ceiling…to be replaced by even more stuff, daily.




Not that the prospect of this new management opportunity wasn’t without its own problems. For one


thing, it meant moving to Toronto. And, yes it was for an Assistant Manager (a step up), but for a


vastly smaller enterprise and initially for less money. It did, however, hold out the prospect of a


big payday … someday … as the manger of a store specializing in personalized services.




When I discussed all this with my wife, she simply had said that since it was a career decision, it


was up to me … and since we were expecting our first child in weeks, a decision had better be  





 That’s how I found myself at the park, by the river where we had played as kids… to clear my


mind… to resolve my dilemma. Praying? Yeah, I tried it before… why not? When I was young, I


remember talking (Is that the same as praying?) to God all the time.


This day found me looking down at the swirling waters, a foot or so beneath my feet, at the


midpoint of a narrow footbridge where the river’s normally placid state actually picked up speed


to form rapids.





Losing hope and feeling more perplexed than ever, I threw the stick I had been holding into the


water, just for something to do. It was then that I noticed, for the first time, the tiny island just a


minute down stream, where the rapid waters swept by each side of it. Just as swiftly I devised a


solution to my predicament! I decided that if that stick that was rapidly being carried to the


island went the right… we would stay… to left, we would go. 





It wasn’t scientific; but I was feeling desperately inspired. So, you couldn’t believe my surprise


as the stick neither passed the island to the right or the left, but got stuck on the island itself!


What the Hell … now what?



Prophetically, although I didn’t know it at the time; that turned out to be my one escape route,


relieving me from all my burdens. But that’s another story; and I don’t know if I’m the one to tell


it…decisions, decisions, decisions.

Feb 172011

Two things I have learnt in life, I wish we all could be.To neither desire untold riches, or the dearth of poverty.

But rather to be content, with what’s right for us today.  And learn to share, in every possible way.

For who needs a God, when we have our hearts content. Yet who do we blame when we can’t pay the rent?  

And both lead to vanity with the lies we say, where our lives are so dark by night or day.

But tomorrow’s a new day, and may it always be. Thank god for that; it will set us free!

      Fred Parry (88-05-18)                                     fredparry.ca 2011





Feb 152011

John Lennon reminded us in a song that ‘Life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans’. This week ‘life’ happened with the news of the death of Alexander Martinez – an adult student attending a college night course that I teach.

Alexander was a real gentleman and a genuine person. Originally from El Salvador, he told us, in a recent class presentation, how he had been a 3rd year law student who was forced to leave school in order to make a living.

His life was a series of stories, each with a rise and fall ending … being forced down, only to succeed later. As he talked (needlessly apologizing for his command of English) I was able to see the picture of a man who was ‘worthy of his suffering’ – choosing not to give in to defeat.   

Listening intently, I wondered how it was that a man like Alexander could find it so difficult to obtain meaningful employment in Canada. Was it his English? It certainly wasn’t his ability to communicate.

Nor, was it for lack of effort, as I had met him in one of my classes some 2 years earlier, working on completing yet another college certificate.

The night I passed on the sad news of his sudden death to his fellow classmates, we were consoled in the memory of the spontaneous group exercise we did for him after his class presentation. Together, we conducted a brainstorming session to develop ideas that would help him gain employment. We listed these on large board sheets which we all signed, along with our best wishes. Later that night, towards the end of our class, I glanced over to see Alexander re-reading those sheets. He seemed moved that we took the time to care.

Maybe that’s what Canada is all about. Maybe, we should demonstrate that more often.

Good bye Alexander. And, on behalf of your classmates, thank you for choosing Canada!

Your life decision has helped re-confirm mine. Or as one of Charles Dickson’s immortal characters said best: “Mankind was my business!” 

Fred Parry (fredparry.ca)

Feb 132011

The other night, I heard a live performance of The Beatles tune, ‘Yesterday’. I was 17 years of age in 1964 when I first saw The Beatles perform it on the Ed Sullivan show – the first time on national TV.


Although I’ve heard it many times since, (after all, it is the most recorded song in history), it actually didn’t affect me as much as it did sitting in the audience that night. The darkness of the theatre meant that no one could see my eyes welling up, no matter how hard I tried to resist. A nagging thought of our youngest daughter haunted me. Lately, she’d not been too happy with her dad.  Things were said, and probably things were left unsaid.


“Why she had to go, I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.”

  The Beatles’ ‘Yesterday’ (ibid., 2)


When she was just seventeen, I remember one morning, as I was dropping her off at her high school parking lot, she became extremely upset at me for chastising her about not concentrating on her studies. Her eyes flashed in anger, as her fiercely independent spirit compelled her to lash out at me. When I suggested that it was better coming from me, than from some jerk, she saidSome jerk did tell me!” She got out and slammed the door.  Almost immediately she turned back to me and, with tears in her eyes and with arms around my neck, she told me she loved me.  It was over.  We made our peace.


“I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.”2


Now, a beautiful young woman, she’ll be coming home for brunch this Sunday. Maybe things will work out again.


So my advice, especially so close to Valentine’s Day: don’t be like me by not telling your loved ones how much they mean to you … every day.  You just never know what might happen tomorrow.


To me, as I get ‘old and grey’, the realization that I need my family more than they need me is a feeling that I can’t shake.   Or to quote another great Beatles’ song:


Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?                                                                      The Beatles’ ‘When I’m Sixty Four’

Fred Parry

Fred Parry

Fred Parry 2011 / fredparry.ca