May 142014
 

As a boy, I used to marvel at the humorous stories told to me by uncle Earl: like the time the local volunteer fire department headed out to put out a barn fire. This didn’t seem unusual due to the storm and the lightning strikes that night. But the lads got lucky and were able to knock the fire out quickly because the wind had died down – resulting in minimal damage to the old structure. Not only that, but the farmer had previously cleared the animals out and none were lost.

However, the fire crew didn’t have much time to rest as they were soon called out to the same property. Seems somehow the fire had re-ignited… apparently some remaining hot spots were the cause. This time they made sure that everything was thoroughly soused down.

But, much to everyone’s surprise, two hours later, the call came in again – same barn, same fire!

And, to hear Uncle Earl tell it, the fire chief – after surveying the scene of the blaze for the third time – announce to his crew (to no one’s surprise), “Well, if he wants his barn to burn that badly … best just let it go.”

Another time, I remember how sad it was at his wife’s passing. Aunt Irene had attended the local missionary church regularly and had tried, and failed, to get Earl inside the church. Yet, now – for Irene’s sake – he made an exception and attended her funeral services presided over by Pastor Bob.

And again, despite somber circumstances, uncle Earl was able to the see the lighter side of things – and thereby relieving the tension. When Pastor Bob commented during his eulogy that Irene was in a better place … “where the streets are paved with gold”, Earl was heard to say, “That’s right … all that gold and nowhere to spend it!”

Yet, despite Earl’s classic witticism, when he passed away – just one week after his wife’s funeral – we realized that his faith, and love for her, ran deeper than he let on.

Set Free!

Set Free!

I guess I’ll always be amazed how visiting Uncle Earl made you feel happier for having visited him – despite his pain from crippling multiple sclerosis which he suffered from for most of his adult life. And, it couldn’t have been easy for him; as he frankly admitted to a news reporter writing a story on the disease, “It’s no fun … I wouldn’t want to wish it on anyone.”

But he wouldn’t have wanted being remembered as a man defined only by a home hospital bed or wheel chair. Whether in my childhood or adult memories, uncle Earl’s as vibrant, now, as he ever was in life. I won’t forget. So, cheers, Earl!

“And you can tell everybody this is your song/
It may be quite simple but now that it’s done…
I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words/
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world” Your Song by Sir Elton John


Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca May 2014

 

Apr 202014
 

Barbara Streisand had it right when she sang the words from Alfie.

“I know there’s something much more/
something even non-believers can believe in”

Every time a religious holiday comes along, people wonder if any of it is true. And, although the vast majority of the world’s population believe in something, even that is to an uneven degree.

Aside from atheists, who deny the existence of a God; agnostics who want proof before they can – versus believers who do – there are various denominations and sects that vary widely among each other: from literalists, to those who believe in the overall picture … not hanging on to every word.

“I dream of such humanties, such insanities… I’m lost like a kid in a maze”  Old Habits Die Hard by Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart

With so many derivations, who is right? Well, you won’t get the answer from me, but I do feel it’s easier to not believe, than to believe. I mean, who can prove you wrong if no one can prove they’re right?

“Old habits die hard/ Old soldiers just fade away … Harder than November rain … Hard enough to feel the pain”      – Old Habits Die Hard by Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart

IMG_1014

As someone once said, it comes down to personal belief; it’s a decision not a discussion.
Personally, I can’t believe there’s nothing: that there’s no power greater than our selves.

“If that’s what it’s all about… Momma, if that’s moving up… I’m moving out” Movin’ Out by Billy Joel

I look at a blade of grass and think that no human can make it. Nonetheless, there are so many contradictions: it’s hard for me to believe that I must accept every word that’s written down without the benefit of context.

“But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well /You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself” Garden Party by Rick Nelson

So, like a great novel, the true meaning remains unwritten … stirring the soul … which is the basis of all religions.

“But if I really say it, the radio won’t play it/
Unless I lay it between the lines! – I Dig Rock and Roll Music by Peter, Paul and Mary

In that sense, there’s more that unites us than divides us: the spirit of the word rather than the letter of the law. For believers, in the end, none of it really matters, if we don’t practice what we preach: the universal and eternal themes of love, hope, charity, forgiveness, peace and understanding … more than just Nature.

“You’re looking for some peace and love
leader of a big old band/ You wanna save humanity/                                                                                                                                                         But it’s people that you just can’t stand” – I Don’t Wanna Face It by John Lennon

Otherwise you may, as well, believe in nothing at all.

“I believe in love, Alfie/ Without true love we just exist, Alfie”

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca April 2014

 

Apr 112014
 

the_music_in_me_front_cover

I’m honoured to say that The Music In Me book is now available from Chapters book stores and at Indigo.ca – both as an eBook and a paperback.

To order, just enter by author (Fred G. Parry) or title in your search and you’ll find it readily available.

The book represents the best of the Fred Parry (Canada) Blog, www.fredparry.ca, over the past five years … all organized at your finger tips … no ‘hunt and peck’ searching for your favorite stories. Also, included is an easy reference guide (Fred’s Play List) of all the lyrics use in all the stories.

In addition, the book includes several original poems.

So, either for yourself, or as a gift, I hope you’ll find it even easier to get yourself a copy.

Thanks!

Fred G. Parry

Apr 052014
 

Some people don’t believe in angels. I do.

This is a story of how one entered my life, left it … only to return again, years later. But, this is no Hollywood presentation with soft music and predictable outcomes.

When I first met this woman, she was an austere person: strict and countenancing a matronly manner.  Mercifully, she wasn’t my boss, but everyone witnessed the harm she inflicted on the life of an associate (who later became a close family friend) who worked for her in another department. Seemingly, drunk on the new supervisory power entrusted to her by the company, she looked for problems where none existed.

My friend, who I knew was Christian, kept her beliefs to herself, but for some unknown reason this new supervisor made it her mission to harass her at every turn. Not that my friend stood by passively: she vigorously defended herself on every occasion. My friend didn’t know what to expect next – with facts always secondary to speculation.

Finally, it all came to a head when a serious allegation – representing potential dismissal – was lodged by the supervisor, which later proved to be anything but true. My friend’s faith was tested as never before, but – with senior management’s involvement – this unnecessary vendetta was finally ended.

Yet, miraculously, over the years, the supervisor morphed into a different person: set on atoning for her past mistakes. At one point, the supervisor asked for forgiveness, and like an ‘earth angel’ (a true Mona Lisa), my friend said she had already forgiven her so very long ago.

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci Wikipedia

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci Wikipedia

Then something unexpected happened to the supervisor: cancer.

When she came through the usual interventions like radiation and chemotherapy, her cancer went into remission. And, something else … when you looked into her eyes … you could see godliness shining forth from within. A bridge of trust was eventually cemented with mutual respect enjoyed by everyone.

One time, she left me a note, in her beautiful calligraphy, referencing a couple of biblical passages she used whenever she felt the need for safety and security: Romans 8:26-28; Psalm 91.

Our life paths eventually parted and it was 23 years later when I received an email about her passing. Instinctively, I open an old, unused bible – only to have that same, but faded, handwritten note fall out. I hadn’t seen it for all those years.

“Take it or leave it or try to believe it / If you’ve been down too long”                                        Rainy Day People by Gordon Lightfoot   

Many people will write this off as a co-incidence, but how do they explain away several enjoining incidents: the conversion from strangers to friends; receiving that email out of the blue; the re-discovery of her note; and perhaps the greatest question of all … having earned her wings … is the transformed supervisor an angel still reaching out from beyond the past?

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca April 2014

Mar 152014
 

Driving up the road that hugged the sea, we stopped atop the ridge that overlooked the scattering of quaint homes that dot this part of Newfoundland – the great rock lying off Canada’s Atlantic coast. Having reached Trinity Bay, we took it in as one would view a picture postcard.

  Trinity on Trinity Bay / Newfoundland Tourism

Trinity on Trinity Bay / Newfoundland Tourism

 Against the background of an azure blue sky, the white gulls soared and screamed above the pastoral scene, as they’ve done long before Vikings’ times – like watching maritime history unfold in slow motion.

“Well I’ve never been to heaven / But I’ve been to Oklahoma” Never Been to Spain by Three Dog Night

We deliberately drove through this way because, back home, a neighbour told us to drop by and visit his relatives – but now we weren’t too sure. I mean, looking at the small homes and our sizable family of five, wouldn’t it be imposing ourselves on some complete strangers’ hospitality – maybe beyond their capacity to give? And, wasn’t it just our neighbour’s way – half a continent away, now – of being nice… not really meaning us to literary take him at his word, right? Yet, as our car crept through the village, with all the dories bobbing away in the cove, I had this sinking feeling we were violating some sort of code: like we had ended up at heaven’s gate only to decide on opting for something better.

 I didn’t know for certain until we arrived back home a couple of weeks later. 

 Our neighbour was dismayed to find out that we had actually visited his relative’s fishing village and had not taken him up on his offer to drop in. He said his family and friends had been expecting us: arranging for shared accommodations, a planned lobster fishing excursion, and even a family evening beach party and grand feast in our honour. Everyone was expecting to attend. Suddenly, our reasons for not stopping seemed like lame excuses. As for honour… ?  

Of course, I might have remembered the generosity and warm-heartedness of the people of Newfoundland, during the “911” attacks of September 11, 2001, when all America bound flights were re-directed to Canada. Inundated, the people in Maritime cities and towns like Gander volunteered to lodge, feed and entertain thousands of stranded and weary travelers for up to three days, or more. Collectively, that’s just who they are: rock of ages. One American visitor in her 80s wrote of her treatment, “… it restored my faith … there still is good people lifting our world.”

So, when a Newfoundlander casually mentions to drop by… best not be late for your own party. They’ll forgive you if you don’t show, but will you forgive yourself?

 “… so much love to make up everywhere you turn / Love we have wasted on the way

                                 Wasted On the Way by Crosby, Stills and Nash

Looking back, could they have put up with five wayfaring visitors like us? I can assure you, it’s a shame if you have to ask.    

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca March 2014