Sep 282016
 

Looking at the dealership invoice, I knew I had a hard decision to make: should I ignore the fact that I hadn’t been charged $300 for parts on work just done on my car? At first, I said nothing… the equivalent of “take the money and run”. Like the TV commercial, where a woman runs out of the store – her arms full of purchases – thinking she was the lucky recipient of a clerical error.The TV announcer,however, saying that the store’s prices are so low, it only seems like, well… a steal.

For some reason, as I slowly agonized over my decision, my mind transported me back to the famous ‘Lunch-atop-a-skysrcaper-c1932’photo: a New York skyscraper under construction with eleven iron-workers casually sitting, enjoying lunch, while balanced on a steel crossbeam – suspended 69 stories above the ground – Manhattan spread out beneath their dangling boots.

All, except for one Mohawk from Kahnawake, Quebec, were immigrants… like my Irish grandfather, ‘Pip’. His no “bull” attitude was typical of these men: saying to a local newspaper interviewer, at age 86, just after passing his engineering exams, “The only thing that would kill me is a 40-hour work-week.”

And, retirement? Forget it! Not for this tough, straight-shooting dude.

No longer with us, Pip’s testament to honesty and hard work lives on. I can easily surmise what he’d have thought of my hesitation to do what had to be done… not much!

So, after explaining to the service rep the billing discrepancy, she checked the work order and thanked me for being so “trustworthy”. The problem was, after dithering for what seemed like hours, I didn’t feel that way. Why did it take me so long to do the right thing? What if my car had been ready a bit sooner and so had missed my chance to set things right?

The determining factor for me was that I didn’t want to see anyone get in trouble. How would I’ve felt if any of these (not-so-highly-paid) workers had been let go by some unforgiving owner/manager? No amount of dollars so gained would have ever eased my conscience.

About to drive away, a staff member presented me with a gift: a smart-looking corporate key chain made of stainless steel and leather. I’ll always value it… not for something I did right; but, as a reminder to react, sooner than later, next time.

“They can change their minds but they can’t change me
I’ve got a dream… And I’m gonna go there free”
I’ve Got a Name by Jim Croce

Tough times made for tough men… and women. Living with honesty and integrity is, and has always been, our real job. I can’t tell you how to do it. But somehow that old photo of those men high in the New York city air makes me remember…  somethings are stronger than steel.

Music in Me The Music In Me July, 2016

Fred Parry                  Music in Me
September, 2016

 

 

 

 

29 Sep 1932 --- Construction workers eat their lunches atop a steel beam 800 feet above ground, at the building site of the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS Wikimedia Commons/Fair Use

29 Sep 1932 — Construction workers eat their lunches atop a steel beam 800 feet above ground, at the building site of the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
Wikimedia Commons/Fair Use

Aug 162016
 

“Uptown, in penthouse number three
Uptown, just my baby and me”
Uptown by Roy Orbison

Well, after 34 years living in a century farm home, our big move to the city didn’t land us in a penthouse, but we’re happy with our spacious two-bedroom apartment.

As we walk through nearby Victoria park, we’re greeted by a scene reminiscent of a 19th century Currier and Ives print. Folks, like ourselves, seeking a welcomed getaway from the stress of the day’s fast lifestyle.

Parents spreading out blankets in picnic fashion for their young toddlers to enjoy; athletic young men laughing while playing touch football; people crisscrossing the park on bikes; a group of seniors strolling leisurely while enjoying an ice cream… bought from a vendor, peddling his way among the throngs.

“People dancing, people laughing / a man selling ice cream”                                               – Saturday in the Park by Chicago

Yet, close by, we’re reminded that this idyllic scene is not without hardship. You’d have to be wearing rose-coloured glasses not to see.

Underneath a large maple tree, on the edge of the park, there’s a blanket covering a human form. And later, as we entered a nearby variety store, we’re greeted by a homeless person with cap in hand – while inside a sad scene unfolds before us. 

A distraught woman is on the floor, dumping out the contents of her oversized bag looking for $5.55 to pay for her purchase – staff and customers warily standing back. Not wishing to extend this pathetic situation any longer, I ask the owner to add it to my order. She turns around and mumbles a thank you, but it’s clear she unaware of where she is.

Then, I see my mistake… her items of ice cream and bubble gum. I mean, who wastes their limited funds on such trivialities – unless your priorities are badly misplaced? The hatless man giving us a suspicious look as we leave.

Maybe, I shouldn’t be surprised; yet, I also realize that I’m not qualified to pass judgement. All I know is that there are people with genuine hardship, through no fault of their own – often including their children – lives greatly diminished by low expectations. But, how to tell the difference between real need and scam artists… everywhere on the economic ladder?

“Don’t assume everything on the surface is what you see /
Cause that classmate just lost her mother
And that taxi driver’s got a PhD”                                                                                                                                                             – Everybody’s Got a Story by Amanda Marshall

Next day, looking out, the sun burns through the morning fog to show a church’s steeple, as my faith reminds me that there are no mistakes. What if I was meant to be in that store, at the exact moment that woman was looking for a miracle?

Who knows if she needed some sign that the world still cared and I was the unlikely instrument to show it… maybe the best $5.55 investment of both our lives!

Music in Me August 2016 The Music In Me July, 2016

Music In Me FredParry.ca
August, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 242016
 

“Life is a highway; I want to drive it all night long.”   – Life is a Highway by Tom Cochrane

I love highway driving – day or night – in my “classic” ride.Even long stretches don’t bother me; allowing more time for my favorite hobby…listening to music. And, it doesn’t much matter what’s the music genre, as long as it speaks to my heart, mind and soul. So, I don’t necessarily play the typical classic car tunes: like ‘GTO’ by Ronny & the Daytona’s:

“Little GTO you’re really looking fine /  Three deuces and a four speed and a 389.”

To me, those long trips are a chance to get rejuvenated.

For example, a few years back, my youngest daughter introduced me to the music of the late, George Jones. I popped his ‘greatest hits’ into  the CD, and (as I complained to my daughter later) by the time old George got finished with my heart, I was an emotional wreck by the end of the trip.

I went to see him just today/Oh, but I didn’t see no tears                                                        All  dressed up to go away/ First time I’d seen him smile in years”

He Stopped Loving Her Today

It reminded me of how blessed we are to be loved, because there’re some hurts that never will die, until we do. And, no one makes you feel that pain like Mr. Jones. Thanks George, I needed that… not!

Maybe, because I was in a certain mood, as I got emotionally free from Jones’ clutches, I ran into another instructive experience – compliments of the ‘The Travelling Wilburys’ song the ‘End of the Line’- featuring the ever-so-soulful voice of the late Roy Orbison.

“Well it’s all right, even if your old and gray/Well it’s all right, you still got something to say/ Well it’s all right, remember to live and let live/ Well it’s all right, the best you can do is forgive”

Since we’re all heading to the “end of the line”, I try looking at my life experiences and contributions: could I’ve given back more, been kinder, less judgemental, more forgiving… even to strangers. As a veteran police officer once said to me, “You have to have a little faith in humanity.”

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

And, to think I was a-washed by all this wisdom simply cruising down the highway – enjoying the journey over the destination. Plus more… feeling my little engine of life’s just starting to ‘tach up.’
“Now were doing a hundred twenty, as fast as I can go/
The Rambler pulled alongside of me, as if we were going slow/The fella rolled down his window, and yelled for me to hear/  Hey buddy how do I get this car outa second gear?”
Beep! Beep! by the The Playmates

Fred Parry The Music In Me July, 2016

Fred Parry
The Music In Me
July, 2016

 

 

 

Jun 192016
 

Sorry, this is arriving a little late for ‘Father’s Day’, but I hope things are going well. Your three great-grandchildren are fine… the kids send their regards.

I’ve come across a lot of your things during our current move.

I found your official black and white 8×10 navel photograph: full uniform and double-breasted overcoat, with your cap slightly cocked to one side – your broad smile reminiscent of a young, handsome 1940’s movie star.

I see that you enlisted early in the 2nd of the “great wars” – upholding a proud family tradition. Yet, I found papers indicating that, in less than a year, you were discharged as medically “unfit for duty” due to an epileptic seizure.  How devastating that must have been for you… such a loss of self-esteem!

As a kid, I remember how frightening it was to see you shaking uncontrollably on the floor while shocked adults tried to subdue your convulsing body. Thankfully, drugs were developed to control these seizures. I know your generation didn’t like to talk openly – choosing to keep things locked inside – however, I feel I would have better understood “you” if you had.

“Crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
Stilted conversations
I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got”
The Living Years by Mike & The Mechanic

Reading through your diaries – back during those nasty divorce years – I remember dealing with my own issues as a young teenager; never realizing how you suffered as well… especially missing mum.  Your words convey a sense of loss and fading hope: you wanted her back; she said it was too late; I struggled on.

“Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye”

But, I also remember the fun times:you letting my band practice at home – windows wide open – entertaining the neighbours, whether they liked it or not. And, after all these years, we’ve reunited as “Reunion.” Your determination, then, made our music possible, today.

“I know that I’m a prisoner
To all my Father held so dear
I know that I’m a hostage
To all his hopes and fears”

And, because of your influence – especially through your writings – I learned not to prejudge people. Being imperfect, you’d think we’d all know the folly of stubbornly expecting perfection from others.

 “I wasn’t there that morning
When my Father passed away
I didn’t get to tell him
All the things I had to say…
I just wish I could have told him in the living years”

Now that my dad is gone, I find myself mentally packing his old navy kit-bag full with memories of both the good and not-so-good years… proud to “carry” it the rest of my life. But, if I could, I’d write, “Dear dad, I miss you … would give anything to have you back… have the talk we never had.”

Love, Fred Jr.

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca         The Music In Me
June, 2016

 

 

May 212016
 

The dictionary’s definition of “friendship” describes “… a relationship that can linger in the memory like an appealing chord of music.”

It’s a remarkable thing about music: an invisible connection or universal relationship, we have with the artists and their work – bringing back memories special to our lives. Everyone’s memorable moments are different, but we share the same basic emotions.

My first memorable music moment is easy; it’s ‘Your Song’ by Sir Elton John. It was “my” love song to my wife – words that  would intertwine our future lives together.

“It’s a little bit funny this feeling inside/
I’m not one of those who can easily hide

I don’t have much money but boy if I did/
I’d buy a big house where we both could live”

Funny, but after 34 years, including raising a family, we’re now leaving our grand old country home. Initially, it was an impossible dream; but today, we’re planning different dreams… adding new songs.

 “So excuse me forgetting but these things I do/
You see I’ve forgotten if they’re green or they’re blue”

Next, I’m sure people can relate to the celebrity deaths of Elvis, Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline, David Bowie, ‘Prince’ (to mention a few); but, the senseless murder of John Lennon stunned millions… such genius denied! As the de facto leader of the Beatles – the world’s greatest pop group – his death also meant the end of the beginning of his promising personal and professional comeback. And, it was Sir Elton’s memorable tribute, ‘Empty Garden (Hey, Hey Johnny)’ – expressing our feelings better than we could say them ourselves.

“He must have been a gardener that cared a lot/
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop

And we are so amazed we’re crippled and we’re dazed/
A gardener like that one no one can replace”

Although Lennon was by no means perfect, his music became an articulate, passionate voice for a whole generation’s aspirations: including world peace,

“All we are saying is give peace a chance”

and peaceful relationships.

“Woman, I know you understand the little child inside the man/
Please remember my life is in your hands”
– from ‘Woman’ 

But, it was Elton John’s/Bernie Taupin’s rendition song, ‘Candle in the Wind 1997’, which John performed at the funeral of Princess Diana at Westminster Abbey  – a worldwide televised audience of two billion – that’s my most memorable music moment. The song’s sales– top 20 in Canada for three years – and later overall global proceeds, raised close to $300 million USD in support of her charities like landmine victims.

“Goodbye England’s rose/
May you ever grow in our hearts.
You were the grace that placed itself/
Where lives were torn apart”

“And it seems to me you lived your life/
Like a candle in the wind.

Never fading with the sunset/
When the rain set in”

Yes, music can bring back memories, but only we can measure the tears… the joy… the meaning to our lives… moments that will forever live within our hearts.

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca        The Music In Me
May, 2016