Jun 252013
 

Parked outside the car dealership, waiting for it to open, some workers have already started to arrive for work, nearly an hour early, on this hot Monday morning. Like the factory I passed along the way, whose employee’s parking lot was already full  the workday starting early for many.

Also, like the transport truck driver who hailed me over to ask directions.

I had just dropped off my car keys and was walking across the normally busy multi-lane road – heading for a coffee shop. She had just pulled over to the curb with the hazard lights flashing, when I mounted the steps of the truck’s cab – grabbing hold of the big side mirror, in order to talk to her.

She had travelled over 60 miles/100 kms getting to this point, but had taken a wrong exit… looking for King Street West. With no GPS, she had only hand written directions and was now lost, with me suddenly being her sole means of getting her back on track.

800px-2_SOPS_space_systems_operator_040205-F-0000C-001

Wikipedia: US Air Force GPS controller

The main problem with her written instructions, that only locals could appreciate, is that “King Street” actually goes north, south, west and east, depending where you are in the twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo. Everyone who lives around here has been conditioned to carefully note which “King Street”… therefore, what city it is.

I suggested that I could draw a map to her destination from inside the cab. So, with permission, I scrambled around to the passenger side door to climb aboard.  She was a middle age woman, and I guessed, perhaps a mom. The truck’s interior was clean and new looking with all the comforts of home  … including a neat and tidy sleeping bunk – everything but a central vac! This was her home office, on wheels.     

Question: when you’re given driving instructions, do you write them down or draw a map? With two opposite communication styles, it was frustrating – especially under time pressures and not wanting to get her lost again – but somehow, we made it work.

Upon leaving her, I knew she’d be OK because of how she ‘u-turned’ that big rig around right then and there – disappearing off in the right direction. It may have been early in the morning for me, but she’d been ‘up and at it’ for many hours already.

Sipping a coffee, waiting for a ride, I wondered how life must be for a working mom in such a male dominated occupation. Would I worry if this had been my wife?

Reflecting back, I had detected a split-second hesitation when I first suggested getting into her truck.  Then again, there must have been something about me, and/or the daylight, that allayed any fears. I took it as a compliment … being considered trustworthy by one diminutive queen bee, among King Streets, isn’t a bad thing since she would have met all types.   

“You got to keep on pushing mamma, you know they’re running late”                                Doobie Brothers’ ‘Long Train Running’

Keep on trucking… a GPS, maybe?

 

Fred Parry

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca (June, 2013)

 

Jun 222013
 

Self-centred as a child, I don’t know when or why I started to think there might be something else more important, but it started innocently enough.

Photo by Anindya Chowdhury

Photo by Anindya Chowdhury

I mean, in my time, everyone sent their kids to Sunday school, which is the closest I came to anything religious; yet, all I can remember is how some of us made folded airplanes of the church bulletins to throw out the balcony windows.

 

My parents weren’t particularly religious, although I think my father took me to an Easter service once. Other than that, my only other church attendance was at weddings and funerals.

 

So, what gives? If my church experience had zero influence on me, then what did?

 

When I was about twelve, I can remember being sad about burying my pet goldfish, Gwendolyn, and I said a little prayer for her sake.  I don’t know if it took, although I thought it was ok. It’s the only prayer I remember saying, but my folks were breaking up about that time, so maybe I got distracted.

 

Looking back through my teenage years, I do recall being influenced by some of my relatives in a positive and vicariously religious manner.

 

From my maternal grandmother, I learned how a simple woman of faith could command the love of everyone who met her. I could tell that she was special because of how she treated me – with kindness, patience and with such gratitude for any little thing I did for her. She had an easy way about her: like the time I stressed over the fact that we didn’t have any cake mix in the house for the birthday cake she promised me. Smiling she said, “Don’t worry Freddie, we were making cakes long before Betty Crocker.”

 

Another person who kept me smiling was my paternal grandfather. From him I learned that giving of one’s time to help others made you happy. And, although he didn’t act “religious” during his lifetime, he had written on his shed door, “A person is closest to God in a garden, than anywhere else on Earth.”

 

And, from Aunt Mamie, I learned honesty. She was the matriarch of my Mom’s family and if anyone – especially adults – were to tell her lies, she had a memory that could expose them in no time.

 

I guess all these role models started me thinking.

 

So, when our own kids came along, all were baptised and enrolled into Sunday School to be confirmed. Fortunately, we went to a small village church and all their friends attended, as well as most of their parents. After that, I figured that they could decide for themselves. 

 

I think, intuitively, I’ve always known right from wrong. So even though I couldn’t prove it, I couldn’t doubt it either – personally needing and seeing my faith at work.

 

It’s not much of a spiritual resume, yet years later – like John Newton – here I am, a miracle:“Amazing grace …

‘twas blind, but now I see”.             

 

 

 

Fred Parry

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca (June 2013)

Jun 192013
 

IMG_1014

PS: 

We celebrated Father’s Day this past Sunday, and I was reminded, again, that the best gifts ever given to me have been my children … now three young adults.

We talked about the contents of this post (see previous entry) and they chastised me when it got to the part whereby I stated that only relatives should attend my mom’s funeral.

Why, they asked, would I not let her friends come to the ceremony?  

Under cross-examination, it turns out I had no defence; that after all this time, I’ve been more worried about myself than about her. It forced a tear or two to fall as I realized that they were right and I was wrong. It will now be opened to anyone who cares enough to come… you can only pre-plan plan so much, after which, the logistics will just have to take care of themselves.

I was humbled to have found that I had drifted so far off the mark. Until they reminded me that what they were doing was simply following the fatherly advice they grew up with – to tell it like it is.

Father knows best? I’m not too sure anymore. On the other hand, with great “kids” like these, how can I go wrong?

Let the sunshine in,

FP

 

Jun 132013
 

Lately, I have been consumed by the concern over my mother’s deteriorating condition (due to Dementia) and the arrangements for her passing. She can no longer live independently – her bad days gradually outnumbering her “good” days.

But, having an ordinary relationship with my mother has been difficult.

·        A divorce when I was twelve, meant that I was raised by my father and his side of the family

·        My mother’s wildly emotional swings from being overly generous to being unduly demanding

·        Her aloofness from me, my wife and her grandchildren

·        Her paranoia of my dad’s supposed influence on my attitudes

I mean, my mom just wasn’t the kind of mother who would take you on her knee and read you fairy tales (More likely a slap, maybe.) She often times would treat family as strangers and strangers as family. Yet, I have always loved her – despite everything – and knew she loved me. Let’s just say it was inferred, if not stated. I just considered it to be somewhere in the ‘fine print’ of our relationship … a genetic mother and child contract.

IMG_2595

Photo by Anindya Chowdhury

So, I have mixed emotions that previous understandings and arrangements regarding her pending funeral are now being challenged by her side of the family – because of their past conversations with my mom – which seems reasonable. However, it also runs contrary to our understanding re: my mom’s wishes for a simple, private cremation.        

I’m sure their concern comes from an honest place, but what it would mean is that I, as Power of Attorney, would have to handle all the details of a large public affair. This expectation is being extrapolated from her comments that she now wants a ‘man of the cloth’ to officiate and say “say a few words”. (Funeral directors must see it all.)

My wife, as joint Power of Attorney, took on the task to explain our previous understanding to the other side of the family.

As a result of this conversation, a compromise has been reached, and we’re now planning a private ‘family’ ceremony – along with the coffee, tea and cookies, etc. In this way, her legions of friends would simply email their condolences to the funeral home, instead of actually attending.

Now, here’s the hard part: will I also “say a few words” … and what will they be?    

When my wife’s father passed away, there wasn’t any “priest, minister, pastor, rabbi, imam, swami, etc., it was just me … and I wanted to and knew just what to say because of the deep affection I had – we all had – for him, all through his life.

And so, I see two possibilities:

1.     Don’t say anything, or

 2.     Totally kill my attitude and realize that it is a celebration of her life, not about me, at all… though, I may have to re-read the ‘fine print’, mom. Let’s talk… let’s forgive!

 “I’m not a profit or a stone age man. Just a mortal with the potential of a superman.” – David Bowie

Fred Parry

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca (June, 2013)

 

 

Jun 062013
 

“There are four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.” – Anon

Whoever came up with this clever prose has summed up my feelings about ‘climate change’.

IMG_0667

Photo by Anindya Chowdhury

I’m not even going to pretend I know much about it, but lately I’ve seen some increasingly disturbing signs of its effect on everyday life.

Personally, I believe “where there’s smoke; there’s fire”, so I’m not one of those who feel it’s not real. And, just like I don’t want to wake up sick one morning and be told that, “Gee, I guess second-hand smoke was real after all”, I think it’s wise to error on the side of probability – especially since the subject has been studied to death, like no other.

US President Barack Obama has stated, “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.

Our planet is wrapped in a layer of greenhouse gases – shielding it from the cold universe – commonly referred to as the greenhouse effect. As this layer of greenhouse gas gets thicker, it in turn, makes the Earth warmer. Studies show that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are the problem. And China is just warming up, with CO2 emissions expected to almost double within the next decade.

“Think Globally, Act Locally” originally began at the grassroots level; however, it is now a global concept with high importance.

For example, one large corporate water bottler has refused to lower their water extraction of one million litres per day, at one well, even though the local municipality has introduced summer watering bands, to avoid draught. Their defense … why should we cut back when our competitors aren’t required to? How’s that for responsible leadership?

Yet, even school kids, who are taught to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, (which include plastic bottles) know that everyone has to pitch in; so shouldn’t industry – the largest culprit – set the example? Nothing is free.

Puffin002

Wikipedia photo

Also, because of shifting fish populations (herring) due to rise in ocean temperatures, the cute little striped beak birds called Puffins have seen their chicks pushed to starvation. They’ve been called the marine canary in a coal mine. What’s next?

So, as time goes on, we see that our environment can’t be taken for granted and that our Earth must be respected.

“Look at Mother Nature on the run/ In the nineteen seventies.” Neil Young’s ‘After the Gold Rush’

Hopefully somebody … not just anybodybut everybody … will do something about it. Or, maybe, if we don’t, nobody else will, either.

Fred Parry

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca (June 2013)