Oct 232013

I think my interest in writing started with me looking in the mirror …  no, not figuratively, but literally.

Beginning in secondary school, I suffered with severe facial acne. Socially, it was a non-starter. As a result, you learned to become withdrawn … invisible … shunning any kind of attention, which was usually negative. Like the time someone threw my school books on the floor because they wanted my desk, but mostly they did it because they could.

Fast forward to when you’re an adult and it explains how you see things. Initially, you are sensitive to life’s underdogs. Secondly, you remembered those rare individuals who looked you straight in the eye to see you … the real you … not some caricature of someone’s imagination. The silver lining, later in life, was that you were less likely to prejudge situations or people. Being an observer of life, you try to appreciate both sides of an issue.

This wasn’t always easy growing up in a family that tended to take extreme positions on everything.

“But all I’ve ever learned from love/ was how to shoot someone who outdrew you” – Halleluiah by Leonard Cohen

I learned quickly that when you express your own deeply held beliefs and values you better be knowledgeable and be prepared, and to expect an equally strong and passionate pushback from the other side. Like the gun fights you heard about in the “wild west”, you had to shoot down the other person before they shot you.

‘Argy-bargy’ doesn’t quite cover it. My problem was I just wasn’t into guns, but original and creative ideas fascinated me.

So, as you opt to the middle ground, you learn to listen, asking intelligent questions to, hopefully, get informed answers. You’re trying to appreciate the other side, better understanding where they’re coming from and encouraging them to do the same, in return.

“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” – Wayne Dyer

 My dad used to say that many a hot argument was cooled by cold facts. Otherwise, you might just be missing something that is actually valid and potentially useful.

Seeing the political gridlock in Washington, we realize the real need for moderates; they have real power because everyone is courting their vote. They are the true leaders of reason.

“I feel someone must remain in the position of non-alignment, so that he can look objectively at both parties and be the conscience of both—not the servant or master of either.” – Martin Luther King Jr.



In fact, many of the world’s strongest advocates, like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela developed strong beliefs and fought hard to make changes through peaceful means. I also see them ultimately acting as peacemakers between their cause and the extremists among their own supporters, to allow for compromise – the highest degree of democratic values.

“Mother Mary comes to me/ Speaking words of wisdom, let it be – Let It Be by The Beatles

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca Oct 2013

Oct 132013

My mother – now committed to a long-term facility because of deepening dementia – lies also in a bed that psychologically seems to be one of her own making. As a prisoner of the past, she suffers from regrets and guilt… inside an imaginary jail cell for which only a loving and forgiving God would have the key. I too was held captive to that past by some sort of instant Karma.

Photo: Michael Anthony

Years before and after my parent’s divorce and my dad’s second marriage, after his death and even now at my mother’s bedside, your parent’s views … even if not right … were never to be doubted.

For example, my mother used to say of a quiet, unassuming uncle of mine, that he had a temper if he wanted to use it – as if it were a badge of honour. Yet, experience has taught me that I should wait to consider all the facts, with openness and understanding.

Sorry mom, but I never needed more grief in my life.

Her intent was good: to make sure I stood up for what I believed … I just had problems with the method. And, disagreeing with “dear mother” could be grief enough – herself being a person of uneven temperament.

So now, as I watch her thrash away, fighting her affliction and screaming at her caregivers, it’s like seeing a caged tigress heading towards extinction. I know how she feels: people asking her to give up … everything. Yet, who am I to judge?

I guess some things never change … like the word “love” … which the dictionary describes as a “term of endearment”. And who can’t – even in a small way – remember a mother’s love?

Yet I know as I write these words, there are those who still find it hard to break through their childhood experiences and remember anything like “love”.

“Mother you had me / but I never had you” – Mother by John Lennon

I know it’s not easy to forgive and forget. So, I’ve followed the advice to “forgive and don’t forget”… learn, but don’t be imprisoned by it, either. Otherwise you view life with an empty heart, seeing only the bad and none of the good.

 The tact I’ve taken is that it really doesn’t matter. Our lives are too short to be wasted. ‘Let the dead bury their own dead.’ The mistakes of the past have no place in the present and our future will be made from today’s moments. So, I don’t care; I’m going to love her anyway.

For I know I owe my existence to all those who stood by me in my hours of need. With them I can stand and say, “Hey mom, I love you; I’m with you, and will keep you safe, until the very end.”

I see her fragile state… her fears, her insecurities, her increasing sense of being lost, even her sense of personal peace … as resting in my hands. Seeing her cry, her bad dreams … before the demons come again.

All of the tears people cry/ Do they fall on deaf ears? Do you just turn a blind eye?       – Blind Eye by Ron Sexsmith

She’s the prisoner. I’m the jailer. Will I throw away the key? I cannot.

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca         Oct 2013