Fred Parry

Fred Parry

Jul 252017
 

“I guess you can say that I’ve been lucky… all because of  you”                                           My Life Story by Gladys Knight

Coming back from London – driving down the western slope leading to our Bright farmhouse – I could see in the distance a strange van slowly crawling out of our gravel driveway. Two minutes later, as I walked towards the backdoor, I see my wife’s purse tossed on the deck, the foreboding house keys hang in the lock; yet, her car is parked as usual.

As I tried to piece this all together, I receive a garbled call from her cell phone saying, “Fred”… the phone goes dead.

Quickly, I make a round of phone calls to friends – no one’s seen her. Then, after getting another cryptic call from her cell phone, that ends abruptly, I figure this is either a cruel joke or something worse. Having had enough, I call 911. A patrol car arrives soon after.

I reviewed the situation with the officer. Why did she leave her purse and her house keys? Was the mysterious van a reason in her disappearance? If everything was normal, why wasn’t there a note? Why were her phone calls suddenly cut short?

With so many questions and no answers, he places an “all-points bulletin” call with the description of the mysterious van. As we talk further, I don’t know what to think. Finally, a call rings through: a friend, on a hunch, drives to nearby Plattsville and locates her. My wife has no idea the police are looking for her, but understands.

My wife calls and, talking to the officer, he learns that  she was about to unlock the kitchen door when friends arrive in their new van. She walked over to greet them and accepts a last-minute invitation to a get-together at the local curling club – uncharacteristically forgetting her purse and house keys in the process. She tried to call me to explain what happened, but couldn’t get through. Apparently, the two garbled cell calls were the result of poor reception from inside the arena complex – she was now using the club’s main line. Our friend offers to drive her home.

Outside, getting back into his cruiser, he calls for all units to stand down and waits for my wife to arrive home safely.

Finally, freed from my worst fears – knowing she’s only minutes away – my eyes unexpectedly fill with tears, making it impossible for me to speak, as shock sets in. Showing great empathy, the officer suggests I wait inside… “out of these cold winds.”

My wife arrives and he explains to her my reaction over her disappearance, while adding, “…and having met you for just a short time, I can understand why.”

“Me, I’ll take her laughter and her tears / And make them all my souvenirs / For where she goes I’ve got to be /The meaning of my life is… She”  She by Elvis Costello

Inside, she gives that knowing smile that asks if everything’s alright. It is.

 

Jun 232017
 

My “Canada 150” moment begins with the image of Canada’s own supersonic jet fighter – the Avro Arrow.

The delta-winged Arrow was the fastest in the world (Mach 3) at 70,000 feet; could go from standing at idle to almost Mach 1 in 4.5 seconds; used a world-first computerized flight control and weapon systems; could be completely refueled and re-armed for takeoff in less than six minutes; and had a projected range of 750 miles compared to the 350 miles of the Bormarc missiles that were to replace it… and that was 1958!

File:DSC 6934 - Canadian Pride.jpg

By Dennis Jarvis – Flickr: DSC_6934 – Canadian Pride, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13276285

As a kid, I created a special hook shot when playing basketball that saw me sinking soaring baskets from centre court. I called it the “Avro Arrow” shot. Such was the impact on my own little world.

Then it was gone! Black Friday, February 20, 1959: The high-tech Arrow program was  terminated along with 30,000 Canadian jobs; our entire jet aviation industry devastated; and a “brain drain” of our brightest engineers and scientists – lost to NASA.

Saying it wasn’t cost-effective despite the National Post’s position that 65% of all funding was returned to the government in taxation – and not waiting two weeks for a scheduled record-breaking operational review and worldwide marketing début – the government shut down the plant, and later, quietly ordered the Arrows to be cut into pieces. Canadians were filled with ineffable sadness to see newspaper-released photos publicly revealing the ignoble destruction of our Arrows.

The real miscalculation: “The scraping of the Arrow program, and the replacement Bormarc Missile System still failing in testing, Canada was left essentially defenseless for two and a half years during the height of the Cold War with Russia.” – Avro Museum

More money was then wasted buying used, inferior US jets – the equivalent of 130 new, advanced Arrows. “Penny wise and pound foolish?”

Death row – destruction of the Arrows, 1959 insuaga.com

“You take what you need /And you leave the rest
But they should never /
Have taken the very best”

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down by The Band

Can it happen again with Canada’s commercial jet aviation industry?

American Boeing has filed a NAFTA free trade ‘America First’ complaint against its Canadian commercial jet rival, Bombardier; yet, wants sell Canada new military jets. Should they have it both ways? As Retired Major General Lewis MacKenzie proposed, why not objectively investigate a renewed Arrow program, save $100’s of millions buying US jets and re-invest it in our own economy?

As a former Avro employee said, “The real crime of the Avro Arrow cancellation lies not in the economic calamity it unleashed, nasty though that was. The lasting tragedy is that confidence and hope for the future were also demolished for so many of our residents on that Black Friday in 1959 – taken apart, like so many Arrows in a hangar.” Journalist June Callwood called it a “soul-theft.”

Quoting Sir John A. Macdonald – his statue being featured as part of the ‘Prime Ministers Path’ at Baden Ontario’s Castle Kilbride, “We are a great country, and shall become one of the greatest in the universe if we preserve it. We shall sink into insignificance and adversity if we suffer it to be broken.”

Maybe there’ll come a time when we won’t need weapons of war. We can only hope and pray – even as we search for peace. But another “Black Friday?” Oh, Canada!

Fred Parry          Music In Me
June, 2017

 

 

May 302017
 

“People who need people/
Are the luckiest people in the world”
 –  People by Barbra Streisand

When I look back on some of my favorite people, they all have a different story … with the same message.

Bob has been my mechanic for over thirty years.  He has taught me a lot about cars, but much more about life. In all the time I’ve known him, I’ve never seen him lose his temper; and as a younger family man, I remember how hard that was when you’re trying to balance family responsibilities and job pressures.

One day, I asked him about it. He told me that the secret was to only work half days. Half days? I didn’t get it. I mean, over the years I have always dropped off my car very early for repairs. I also knew that he often worked well into the evenings. He looked at my puzzled expression and said, “Well, like I said…  half days. That’s 12 hours isn’t it Fred?

That Bob… he’s been the funny one!

Once my wife gingerly drove our car into his extremely busy garage. She was dragging the muffler system on the ground. Bob stopped everything, took her car in, fixed it all up, and sent her on her way in no time at all.

A few days later, I dropped in to thank him and asked how he was able to help her immediately when his shop was already full of cars. He simply said that if it had been his wife who was in a similar situation, he’d like to think that some other mechanic would do the same thing.

Looking back through my young 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 gratitudef or any little thing I did for her. She had an easy way about her: like the time I stressed over not having any cake mix in the house for my promised birthday cake. Smiling she said, “Don’t worry Freddie, we were making cakes long before Betty Crocker.”

From my paternal grandfather I learned that volunteering 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 cross swords with her, she had a memory that could expose lies in no time.

My dad used to say that civility doesn’t cost anything, but promotes a caring attitude, understanding and self-respect.

Few practice what they preach. In my life, I’ve been lucky!

Fred Parry                The Music In Me
May, 2017

 

Apr 282017
 

Family, at its best, is the source of much happiness. and, nothing says family better than our friends Pete and Jan.

Walking into the welcoming embrace of their family celebration – Pete’s 60thwas like a love letter to the world… generating a joyous feeling of public generosity I hadn’t experienced for years.  It was like any other family get-together say, like a wedding reception – except this party/show was open to the public at their music club.

Pete’s large family have all learned how to care for each other. So, not surprisingly, they chipped in by delivering free party food to the many tables of well-wishers throughout the night – with live music that included Pete’s band.

As Jan explained later, you’ve got to expect some problems in life; but, showing you care begins a ripple effect… spreading out to the margins of our lives. You can see she looks at things differently than your average business person… sharing happiness is her business.

“I’m gonna say hello to my neighbor
Greet him with a smile
Shake the hand of a stranger
Sit and talk for a while
Tell someone I love them
From the bottom of my heart”
Today I’m gonna try and change the worldby Johnny Reid

Happiness: A World View

The latest World Happiness Report shows Canada – #7 out of 155 countries studied – as one of the best to live. By contrast, the USA (#13) was described as becoming “a more miserable and mean-spirited place.” Although average US personal incomes are up, inequality is rising and getting worse. Pain killers and suicides reflect an increasingly deeper lack of hope.

The key to happiness? A sense of community, understanding the  common good, pro-social behaviour, and helping strangers… not unlike Pete’s and Jan’s philosophy of life. Economist John Helliwell (report’s lead author) said, “If the riches make it harder to have frequent and trustworthy relationships between people, is it worth it?” Still, you have to have some money to be happy; but, as Helliwell noted,“… at a certain point extra money doesn’t buy extra happiness.”

 Happy (School) Days!

Yet, there’s now new hope and happiness for American youth. Baltimore’s Robert W. Coleman elementary school has implemented a program that does away with detentions by teaching their students meditation and yoga/breathing techniques.

This after-school program has been so successful that no detentions have been handed out in two years. Talk about happiness!

According to teachers, students are taught to calm down whenever they feel anger rising and sadness growing – which has also helped them focus and do better on tests. The kids are empowered and that makes them feel happy – developing work/life skills that will also benefit them as adults.

It's in our hands

Photo from Pixaby domain

 

Sometimes we have to make a choice; why not choose happiness?

Fred Parry
The Music In Me
April, 2017

 

 

 

 

Mar 312017
 

My wife’s dad, nicked named ‘Dodie’, was born in Edinburgh –practically a street urchin. An old navy vet, he was always the life of the party, loved by everyone and enjoyed a good ‘dram’ – saying, in his 18th century-type voice, “I quite loves’ me whiskey… or anyone’s else’s.”

Here is the beloved one, in hospital bed a-lying / Monitors all disconnected now, the old sailor knows he’s dying.

His rugged constitution gave way to poor health late in life which included angina and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Yet, it was said of him that his no-worry attitude and wry sense of humour could dispel any sadness… lighten up any room.

“What the hell, he’d say, I’ve lived a good life, I’m ready to go  anytime.”

With it, the family understands, it’s what he’s been wanting / Sick and unable to move, these past few weeks been daunting.

One time, he was led off a plane in a wheelchair – due to acute shortness of breath – looking deathly ill and hardly able to speak, he whispered, “Fred, let’s get out of here! These women are making a fuss over nothing.”

On another occasion, after a family function, his wife chastised him for accepting too many drinks. Dodie’s response: “Well woman, it was a wedding not a funeral.”

But, in the end, time eventually caught up to Dodie – spending his last remaining days in hospital ‘comfort care.’

Above a computer screen urgently flashes … no time remaining / Yet he lives on – in slumber-induced sleep – ever weighing his staying.

He hears well the nurse’s instructions, adjusting his body again / But he waits – until the last voice of loved ones, proved that they’ve been.

My wife – as she was in the beginning – remained at his side. And, late one evening, as the end neared, she decided to give him a true Scottish send-off.

Now, the trial seems over, so clearly seen on his face / With peace and contentment, the new order, all worry’s been replaced.

She set up an old CD player loaded with his favourite Scottish songs. She even had the evening nursing staff and another patient singing, “O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road / And I’ll be in Scottland before ye”

A life worth celebrating, his favourite music plays/Drinks all ‘round is called for … seems like old days.

A nurse herself, she’d seen her fair share of morbid death watches, so she was determined to see her father die his way. So, after dipping a mouth-sponge soaked with brandy, she gently rubbed it across his lips.

Well! – Dodie, reacting deep from within an unconscious state, latched on and wouldn’t give it up. As we laughed, she calmly said to him that she couldn’t give him another drop unless he let it go. He did! – his face glowing with satisfaction… making the bitter sweet.

Photo by Anindya Chowdhury

 

 

 

 

 

And later, in the wee hours, when a last breath is drawn Under calm skies and time remaining, he sails into the dawn!


Fred Parry                  The Music In Me
March, 2017