Dec 222013

“The Blog to be a Book!”

Last August, 2013, I wrote these words. Now, because of the help of many people, I can happily say:  “The Blog IS a Book!”

My hope was that, if you enjoyed the blog, you would enjoy a book of the blog’s “greatest hits”.

So now, as then, I offer you these simple words – a celebration of life, really: by the living, for the living.

Best wishes … always,

Fred Parry                  Dec 2013

Fred G. Parry

Dec 202013

I read about a street person who, because his dog wasn’t welcome in soup kitchens or overnight shelters, would forgo eating and a secure night’s sleep. But, he was happy to do so. Happy?!

“Greater love has no one than this..."

“Greater love has no one than this…”

Think about that for a moment. Let the enormity of that wash over you. How many of us can endure the harshness of going hungry – let alone living on the street –  especially during cold, winter nights?

I don’t know about you, but for me, having to even go an extra long stretch – let’s say between breakfast and dinner – can give me a headache.  I mean, to our rational minds, it doesn’t make any sense. How does someone do it knowing there is no guarantee, or expectation, of having a next meal?

To understand what this means, read the words of holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl, who wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning,  “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”

Believing that there’s a reason or there’s something bigger than you to live for, means everything. Biblical Christian teaching, for example, explains it this way, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” To some, pet ownership means survival is possible.

I can see why veterinarian Michelle Lem, MSc, started her free mobile clinic to treat the pets of the homeless … estimated at 20% of the street people population. Her volunteer veterinarian team provide basic pet care services and how-to tips.

The Toronto Star interviewed a young street person who explains his strong feelings for his dog this way: “She’s the only thing I’ve got in this world, besides my life, and my life ain’t going anywhere. I’m there for her and she’s there for me.”

It’s not really about the pet; it’s about the love the dog brings… a street rarity sometimes meaning more than life itself. 

The more cynical among us would say it’s ridiculous. Putting the welfare of a dog above your own is like not having the sense to “come in out of the rain.” There seems no reason to suffer and sacrifice, like that, over a “dumb animal”.

Yet, if that’s true, then how does one explain the actions of someone at the opposite end of the cultural and social spectrum, like a veterinarian, who is out on the street… regardless?

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night / Take these sunken eyes and learn to see”             – Blackbird by The Beatles  

As a nurse, who spent her whole adult life helping the homeless, Order of Canada recipient, Anna Kaljas, once complained that we have places for homeless cats and dogs, but not enough places for homeless men and women.

What this means to me is that were missing a piece of the puzzle. Yes, let’s teach people to help themselves – a helping hand, not just a hand out – but let’s not lose sight of the fact that the offering or not offering … of love … says more about us than about them.

To whom much is given…

Fred Parry December 2013

Dec 142013

“There are places I remember all my life/ though some have changed” In My Life by John Lennon

John Lennon’s words filled my heart today as I gazed out the restaurant’s windows to see the hectic Christmas scene outside: cars racing about parking lots, people in hurried motion and trains going on through.

I was resigned to turn away from all this “sound and fury”, when I noticed some solitary maple trees – right in front of me. Void of their leaves now, they were impressive in their calm, unchanging nature … silent observers against the busy background.

For me the missing leaves are our memories lost.

What will be remembered of our lives years from now? I believe it will be the faces of people who really made a difference.

“And these memories lose their meaning/ When I think of love as something new”

This year, we are having Christmas at home – our farmhouse – where we’ve lived now for over 30 years. Most of our immediate family and a few close in-laws and friends are expected to make an appearance for Christmas and/or Christmas day dinner. We also plan to have a real Christmas tree (maybe), but I’m sure … real Christmas cheer.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! 

Why are we going all out this year? I think it’s about aging and time. I mean, of course, we older ones – with less certainly than before – can’t take relatively good health for granted, and our friends, our kids and their kids, will never be this age again. It marks a defining point. We can all stand together and marvel at the season and collectively be grateful for all the blessings we’ve been afforded. Happy faces.

I remember a story about a boy who wanted badly to hear the bells of Santa’s sleigh and how years later he can still hear them when others around him no longer can.

I thought to myself, has it really been that long since I heard those silver bells? I finally settled on the realization that if we can’t, it’s probably because (believe it or not) we get too old, too fast.

But, the real point is that no matter what our financial or family situation is this Christmas, we still have each other … a chance to share and give something of ourselves. Maybe the only way we will ever really hear those bells again, is by believing we can.   

As I finish this edition, I’m reminded, once again, of how simple life is and how incredibly complex I try to make it: worrying about things as if they mattered, when they don’t. It’s almost beyond belief – but then again, perhaps that’s what Christmas is all about

“Though I know I’ll never lose affection/ For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them/ In my life I love you more”

May we hear the joyous bells ring out for us this Christmas … as they’ve always done … as they always will.

Fred Parry      Dec 2013