Feb 252017
 

As I unravel my thoughts, here in the coldness of a winter’s eve, I wonder what our retirement years might look like for my wife and I… knowing our marriage is a gift to each other.

“The Frost King has come and with a flick of his thumb, turned the windows to Renaissance art / As we sit round the fire with no need to enquire, about the ways of the soul and the heart” – Renaissance by Valdy

Maybe, retirement means extensive travel like many of our friends who routinely visit various parts of the world. I can still hear my father-in-law telling us, “Travel now while you can, before poor health means you can’t.”

I just know – whatever life’s itinerary – I’d be lost without her.

“Years past us by like a soft whispered sigh, not noticing youth as it flew /
It’s easy to tell that you wear your age well, not trying to prove you’re still you”

And longevity? – although we get used to waking up every day, it’s not a certainty.

What time we have left could be measured in years… or just seconds. A young father – working and raising a family – I could afford the luxury of fooling myself that I had all the time in the world.

Now, with maturity and age, I can’t pretend I didn’t waste some of that valuable time – fearing today, with no faith in tomorrow.

Somehow it seems, some of our dreams got discarded somewhere on the road /
When all that was true, could be found in the blue of your eyes that still sparkle and glow”

Our priority for the two of us is to find more time to deepen our relationship without losing our personal interests.

For example, I often get involved with protracted projects of which she’s generally supportive; but, as a responsible, caring partner, will see things I sometimes don’t bargain for (like subjecting myself to harmful, unnecessary stress) – and she’s usually right!

She’s mindful of my needs; I’m blind to hers. So now with our time seeming ever-so-valuable, I find I’m making up for lost opportunities.

Bob Dylan said, “If you don’t know where you’re going any road will take you there.”


… any road… photo from pixabay public domain

We’re starting off modestly by listing all the things we like doing together: bike rides, walks, visiting interesting coffee shops and restaurants with friends, movies, yoga, camping, canoeing… talking and listening to each other means everything’s possible.

“I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go
Through time with”  –
Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce

I feel like the literary figure, Rip Van Winkle – waking up after years of being asleep. Coming to my senses, like never before, I realize, the past is ancient history. And yet the light in her “kaleidoscope” eyes is guiding me home.

The Doobie Brothers ask in Long Train Runnin’, “Without love, where would you be now?”

I believe the correct answer is: nowhere.

However, some say love is blind; but fortunately for me, even a blind man knows – can be downright clairvoyant – when he’s walking in the sun.

Fred Parry
Music In Me
Feb, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

May 122015
 

“I drew a picture of a pair of wings, because I want to fly                                                   My mother asked me to explain, I said that I would try… the art of really flying was dying”             – Dream #2 by Ken Tobias

Once upon a time, I knew a boy whose parents fell out of love and stopped living together at his home. It was very sad for the boy, because where once there had been joy, now there was only loneliness in his heart.

“She said it was the strangest thing that she had ever heard,                                                                     A man can only be a man, he cannot be a bird”

To make things worse, both his mom’s and dad’s family stop talking to one another. They took sides – let’s call one side the black side and the other one the white side – just like choosing sides for basketball. Whenever the boy was with the white side, they would tell him how bad the black side was – the same thing happened when he was with the black side. It wasn’t so much that one side hated the other… it’s just that they loved their own side better.

This made him feel even more unhappy, because he really didn’t want to ‘side’ with anyone.

“That’s not really true, I tried to tell her                                                                                   If the search for love is true, you’ll find an answer”

However, the boy grew up listening to one side more than the other. The white side seemed to have convinced him that the black side hurt him even more than he knew. So, he reacted in the same way – loving the one side and not the other.

You might say that he began to see things in black and white.

Later, as a young man, he met a sympathetic friend who couldn’t grasp why he no longer loved the black side. He said he didn’t know for sure any more, only that the black side was, well… black. His friend still didn’t understand, but asked if he understood that the black side probably suffered more, by not having his love?

He knew in his heart his friend was right.

“Father can’t you hear me? I bid you take my hand                                                       Dying’s a part of living, I know you’ll understand”

Why had he been forced to choose sides? When did the sides become “black and white?” He felt angry at both sides because he felt that “adults” should know better. He now understood that there were three sides to the story: the white side, the black side… and the truth.

“… he said it cannot be.                                                                                                          He said I’m living in a world of fantasy,                                                                            How can I tell him, this, is my reality?”

So, the son did a brave thing… what no grown-up had done before: expressed forgiveness and love to both sides. And, he never had to choose sides again; everyone was on the same side.

“I drew a picture of a pair of wings, because I want to fly”

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca      The Music In Me        May 2015

Feb 182015
 

Friends were talking about how our parent’s generation (born in the ‘20’s and ‘30’s) was not one to show signs of affection – keeping their feelings to themselves.

Some blamed this on the era in which our parents lived: austere times of the great depression and world wars. Although, my generation was raised on TV, our parents had all the drama they needed in life: survival taking a back seat to demonstrative displays of love… especially from men.

So, how do we take care of our elderly parents while still feeling the after-effects of a less than loving relationship?

In addition to physical problems, some have parents suffering from dementia: sometimes lucid; sometimes delusional.

“Some days are diamonds / Some days are stone                                                                      Sometimes the hard times/Won’t leave me alone”
– Some Days are Diamonds by John Denver

It’s common-place to see men much more involved in their children’s lives – playing soccer, at the rink – it`s easily a 180 degree turnabout on how things were: mainly cheerless, often abusive.

“In my little town, I never meant nothin’
I was just my father’s son”
– My Little Town by Paul Simon

Do you know your parents love you?

Most would give their parents a passing grade. Yet not all. Love is as love does, but a divorce changes everything… everybody.

I know that, for me, growing up in a divorced family,with narcissistic parents, it wasn’t easy. Yes, I felt love, but it was conditional on me showing allegiance to one side or the other: “Love” could be revoked, at any time.

So, I missed many signs of love – especially from my dad – except the time, on his deathbed and unable to talk, he gave me a last note he had scrawled out.

Looking back, it was one of those ‘father-and-son’ moments I’ll never forget – to his only child… a son he had kept at arm’s length all his life.

You can barely make out the question he poses: “Are you late Fred?” (He knew I was en route to a job interview in another city.) And, “ …hope the Will is okay.” His final legacy: a man with barely hours left to live (which he kept secret) worrying about me!

Was I worthy of such a love as this … these few pitiful written words … all that separated us from eternity? I realize, now, he was saying goodbye.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. And, when I think back on all the people who cared for me – some more than others – all fit together to form a mosaic of my life: spelling out, ‘Forever Loved!’ Something I never appreciated for years.

My dad was a piece of that puzzle… one that wasn’t filled in, for my eyes to see, until it was almost too late.

Still, some say it’s not manly to show emotion. Well…

“Gather round all you clowns /Let me hear you say
Hey, you’ve got to
hide your love away – by The Beatles

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca                   The Music In Me          February 2015

Dec 042014
 

When our youngest daughter was a little girl, she asked if Santa Claus was real or just pretend? Now, as a young adult, she’s asking is religion real or an illusion? Her intelligent, inquiring mind never suffered fools lightly. Now, she’s asking if I’m just fooling myself.

“Well, I never been to Heaven/ But I been to Oklahoma”                                                         –  Never Been to Spain by Three Dog Night

Initially, I fell back on the 1897 editorial response in The New York Sun  – which included the famous reply, ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus’ – to a similar question in a letter from an eight-year-old, adding,My little friends say there is no Santa Clause.” 

Editor, Francis P. Church’s response was really to all society, replying in part, “Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia … are little … in this great universe of ours … as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the truth…”

Regarding my adult daughter’s question about God’s existence, a similar response applies. And, other than personal testimonials, I’ll continue to fall back onto more enlightened minds than mine.

Years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting famed British journalist, author and media personality, Malcolm Muggeridge. As an agnostic, he converted to Christianity after writing a book about Mother Teresa, ‘Something Beautiful for God’. 

He writes, “We who are imprisoned in history… we seek another Jesus. A Jesus of history, which is a contradiction in terms; like an eternity clock … Jesus can only exist now; and in existing now, makes now always. Thus for Mother Teresa, the two commandments – to love God and to love our neighbour – are jointly fulfilled: indeed, inseparable.”

Relating to my daughter’s quest for truth, I also wondered why people would quote biblical passages when much is based on a hand-me-down verbal tradition – subject to inaccuracies. Yet, faith led me to a relationship alive, within my heart. Talk about truth… about love! Is surrender too much to suffer?

“Just an old fashioned love song/ Comin’ down in three part harmony”                                                  – Old Fashioned Love Song by Three Dog Night  

Wikipedia Commons Photo

How does your light shine?

Muggeridge reveals a letter written to him by Mother Teresa in which she addresses his unbelief. “… you to me are like Nicodemus, and I am sure the answer is the same – ‘Unless you become a little child.’ I am sure you will understand beautifully everything… in God`s Hands. The personal love Christ has for you is infinite; the small difficulty you have re his Church is finite. Overcome the finite with the infinite.”

Church continues: “Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.” 

Religions’ universal truths, like the revelation behind the Bethlehem story,  generate faith. May we, even the little child within, be enveloped with love, peace and hope.

Merry Christmas!

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca                        December 2014

 

 

Sep 202013
 

“Here I come screaming out of childhood’s burning barn on a leash too short to reach the person I was meant to be”

Photo by Anindya Chowdhury

by Anindya Chowdhury

Written by Canadian poet Phil Hall, these words come from the book ‘White Porcupine’.

In my mind’s eye, as I re-scan these words, I can see many images.

Initially, as a warning to school teachers: they have – together with parents and society such a large part to play in seeing that our children reach their full potential. What an awesome responsibility!

The author told me his words were written as a result of an old lady – with her writings in hand – asking him if she might have been successful if she’d started earlier in life?

Like someone running a race and coming up short of their expectations … panting from exhaustion … you can almost sense the released energy propelling itself across the finish line, yet without them. So sad is the futility of “success” when we do something, first and foremost, for external recognition forgetting our fundamental obligation to the common good. These wins will ring hollow.

“Oh, Oh, the damage done” – Needle and the Damage Done by Neil Young

Paraphrasing Phil Hall, he said that his outstanding book, Killdeer (2011 Governor General’s Award , 2012 Trillium Book Award, and shortlisted 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize) was written to give hope to aspiring authors: that it was okay to be imperfect … be themselves. 

I can also see how important it is to have a positive atmosphere in which to live – young or old.

I remember how, as an accomplished young athlete, being “crucified” – in front of my peers by the excessively negative comments of a coach . I’ll never forgot it and it affected my confidence after words … resulting in declining performance … with no one back home to care.

Is it just because they can, that some people misuse their authority over children? Do they not realize the long-term potential influence they have over young minds, for good or for ill? Although the vast majority of coaching volunteers provide outstanding service to their community, it only takes one… whose careless use of power can undo the fine example set by others.

To some parents, their kids can’t do anything wrong, but all parents should be involved in their children’s pursuits – to aid in positive development and protect them from any form of abuse. Paying for the activity – music, sports, drama, etc. – is not good enough. Parents can’t afford to stand on the sidelines of their kid’s lives. Once kids feel they can’t excel, they won’t.

Of course, at any stage in life, we have to be careful not to push our own agenda onto them and mistakes will be made but there will be no mistaking our love for them, now or forever.

May we always be able to affirm: “… I was meant to be.”

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca                                   Sept 2013