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

 

Feb 282014
 

When I think back on the 2014 winter Olympics, I remember mostly the examples of personal sacrifices, goodwill and triumphs of the spirit that were exhibited between the athletes – no matter what country they represented.

These remembrances include the cross country skier who had broken his ski, but was doggedly limping along … determined to finish the race. That’s when the coach of another team came from the sidelines and put a new ski on his boot so that he – although obviously out of medal contention – could finish the race with dignity.

It also includes the sacrifice of a speed skater who gave up his spot in the final – along with his chance at a medal – so that another team member (the team’s best competitor who had literally fallen out of contention) could get a second chance. That skater made the most of his opportunity and went on to win a silver medal for his country.

And, then there was the story of a downhill skier who had placed out of the medals, but was a winner in any way you look at it. To even get to the Olympics, she had to overcome an accident that resulted in a fractured skull, the loss of hearing in one ear, several fractured vertebrae in her neck, and broken ribs – all happening just fourteen months earlier. In addition, since she was no longer sponsored, she reportedly had to raise $150,000 for expenses, in order to participate in the games.

Sidney Crosby / Captain Canada

Sidney Crosby / Captain Canada

It also reminds me that you don’t need to spend $50billion to find similar examples of bravery, courage, passion and determination. Every day, all around us – no matter where we live – we see stories of such heroism. In fact, professional athletes often say that they would never have achieved their current success without the support of family, friends and their communities. As with anyone’s success, no one does it by themselves. At its best, the Olympics become symbolic of the triumph of the human spirit, everywhere … every day.

Examples in life are not hard to find; all you need to do is look for them: a friend, using grit and determination, worked ten years to achieve her Chartered Accountant’s accreditation – all the while working a full-time day and a part-time evening job – without ever once complaining; a young woman of our acquaintance – working, for years, as a waitress – finally had the courage and bravery to break out on her own … working six days a week, always with a smile … to make her new restaurant a success;  and, the bravery of my uncle Earl who displayed so much courage despite being afflicted with MS from an early age and who set a gallant example by focusing his attention on everybody but himself.

 “You don’t have to close your eyes to dream / All I see is right in front of me”                          Living Out My Dreams by Roch Voisine

I found that the old expression, ‘All that glitters is not gold.’, is not only true, it’s priceless.

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca Feb 2014

Feb 062014
 

Dear readers,

Just a short note to say that The Music In Me is now available for ordering at *Amazon.ca or Amazon.com – in addition Barnes & Noble (B&N.com), if you prefer.

For those wanting a personal copy at their finger tips, you’ll find that searching for the book using ‘Fred G. Parry’ is faster than wading through lists of titles (many using same key words).

Thanks everyone for the positive feedback.

Fred

*PS UPDATE Apr 7/2014: It appears that Amazon.ca doesnot offer the paperback for sale.

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca Feb 2014

Feb 022014
 

Seems like everyone has had “aha” moments; here’s one of mine.

“First” was a greyhound … and, I mean, what a dog! There wasn’t anything he couldn’t destroy: my dad’s rec room walls, clothing, shoes, and seat belts… if you left him alone in the car, even for a minute.

Before we were married, my wife and I were visiting relatives in Detroit and someone said there was this fabulous greyhound for sale. Cool! We decided to check it out.

“Why do you call him First?” I asked the owner.

“Well”, came the reply, “before he retired from the track, he was always the ‘leader of the pack’.” 

Scanning the couch, where First seemed unconscious, it was hard to believe, but the people seemed sincere and with ‘eyes wide shut’ we bought him.

Asleep again on the back seat during the drive home, I remember saying optimistically, “Maybe that’s how the great ones are… you know, relaxed until the time of a race.” Nope! First was just lethargic – all the time!

Until… one day we were at a large sprawling park during a lazy summer afternoon, when something caught his interest. I can still see him … stretched out in full flight … like the Greyhound bus logo. Covering the park in seconds, First was born to run and be happy.

And people, no matter what they do, also want happiness… but how?

“Once I rose above the noise and confusion/ Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion”Carry on My Wayward Son by Kansas

Scientifically, MRI studies – detecting chemical releases in the brain – have shown we’re naturally happy when even contemplating helping others.

Spiritually, the Dalai Lama says, “We should implement the teachings of compassion, tolerance and forgiveness in our life to be happy.”

And, I’ve found happiness begins by realizing that whatever good we’ve done, it’ll never measure up to what we’ve been given: life. So, it only seems right to count our blessings and use our talents to give something back. Yet, it’s disheartening to know I could be: more forgiving, loving, generous, and disciplined… less critical and self-absorbed.

“You gotta get it right, while you got the time/
You can’t close your, your mind!”
– Man in the Mirrorby Michael Jackson

Beauty & Grace

Surveys show we’re no happier today than 50 years ago – despite being twice as affluent. Why? Well, before the past year drifts too far away in our memory, what were your most satisfying moments? Maybe an outstanding community achievement, or perhaps some little thing you did to help someone. I like to see these experiences as snapshots in time – like that Greyhound image – catching us in full flight, being happy.

No time? Time guru Stephen Covey reminded us that we can say “no” to so many distractions, by having a sense of destination that says “yes” to things that matter most.

“You fill up my senses, come fill me again” – Annie’s Song by John Denver

Aha! We’re not perfect? Perfection’s not necessary for happy endings.

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca Feb 2014