School, Seventeen, Life’s Canvas and Pride

School, Seventeen, Life’s blank canvas and showing your rainbow Pride, stories from the last 16 weeks of the Carr’s.

Julia-award-editIt’s been a bit since I scribed a tale or two about the comings and goings of the Carr’s, so why not today I say? Although I won’t cover off all the exciting things that have transpired over the almost 4 months, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least talk about a couple of the big things that have happened. First and foremost, summer is here, and that would mean that we made it through another school year.

I wrapped up my summer semester a couple of weeks ago around the same time that Julia graduated from grade 8 and Jordyn finished grade 11. Their marks where fantastic and their efforts where acknowledged and recognized and we are so proud of all they have both achieved. In fact, during a beautiful graduation ceremony, Julia was awarded the Eric Young Memorial Award for – Outstanding Efforts. Jordyn finished her co-op placement, using her sign language skills, helping out at a local school for the deaf and truly learned the positive you get from giving back.

We have never been the parents to push our kids super hard, so when they are able to achieve on their own, the awards value is even greater. Two amazing kids, full of love and energy with great futures, but perhaps most importantly, 2 incredibly proud parents.

In the last 4 months, we’ve had a couple of birthdays, but let me reflect on one of them. Stories that relate to time and the passage of it and the unarguable fact that it is moving, whether we want it to or not are always fun. Do you want to feel old? Simple way really, besides looking in a mirror is look at your kids and try to remember what it was like last year or the year before or even better 17 years ago. 17 years. Wow, 17 years ago, Nathalie and I had no children, had just celebrated a few years of marriage and were basically just making our way in life.

Then we had the most beautiful little girl drop into our laps, and everything changed. We were parents for the first time. We had to take care of someone other than ourselves. The responsibility seemed a little greater for us in life. We had bills and jobs and aspirations and this little bundle of joy with a blank slate, ready for the world. We had to teach and guide and share life’s skills with this baby and help her grow up.

In a blink of an eye, 17 years has turned this pretty little red headed baby into a woman. Someone who thinks independently and laughs; someone who is responsible and caring and loves and who is loved. Someone we are so proud of each and every day, and we did that. Sure there were great teachers and loving family members and friends and other factors that helped, but we did it. With love and respect, many tears and a bit of trial and error, we helped make this amazing little moom grow into who she is today.

Blank Canvas
A few friends of mine are dealing with some very large life changes. In conversations with each of them, I have talked about the fresh new canvas and thought my analogy was worth a share for what its worth.

When we are young and life is ahead of us, it is parents and friends and people around us that help pick the content of our life painting. Teachers help us understand the foundation of knowledge that build our shapes and base colours. Their likes and dislikes, become our likes and dislikes, their emotions and beliefs help form ours. By high school, our paintings are outlined and our direction and content is somewhat shaped. We may have lots of work to do to fill in the colours and form detail in our pictures, but they are coming along. In college or university, we learn how to shade things to make things stand out. We gain perspective and understanding on how all the elements work together. We can learn to make our life picture a masterpiece with that extra guidance. We can do it without it, but it just seems more finished with the extra help.

We get married or find jobs or build careers, and each day we add more to our painting. Maybe we change jobs, and we paint over a part of the painting to start again or make the adjustments we need to allow the painting to still be a true reflection of us and what or who we’ve become, but the painting is never really done. It keeps changing and adapting, until that day that we are presented with a major life change. That is the day your canvas is white washed. You still have all the experiences and lessons that got you the picture that was there, but now you have a fresh start; an opportunity to repaint it all or not. A chance to use those colours or shape that you never used in your original work of art, for whatever reason. Perhaps because of someone’s lesson or thoughts ushered you in a different direction or through circumstance something hadn’t even occurred to you. A fresh start is like a brand new pallet with new colours and a blank canvas and a blank canvas is a scary proposition, but the truth is that your life painting, in the end, will be the better for it. Keep painting.

Dancing Water
lake-editHad a chance to visit a cottage up north for a night after a gig, and was blown away by the morning beauty. It was still cool and the air was crisp but the trees across the lake, with the sunlight and breeze had every shade of green represented and with the slow wind, the branches moved and danced to an imaginary symphonic conductor. The ripples on the water joined in on the majestic performance and with every swell and crescendo, the water danced in the most magical way. I was taken aback and wrote this in my mind, and finally now committed it to the permanent record.

pride-editI have always fully supported the pride movement and have always wanted to go downtown Toronto during the parade, but just never made it. That is until this year. I’m so happy to have shared a fun afternoon with friends and family and to have finally shown my support for inclusion, NOT exclusion; acceptance NOT hate. So happy to have also shown the girls that for this world to work better, we have to all come together and celebrate our similarities and our differences. Given the other things that have happened in this world the last few days, it would seem that this is a lesson we all could benefit from sharing. #onelove #loveislove #fh8

In closing
I often wonder how we got so lucky sometimes. I have never won the lottery or a big jackpot at a casino, but as far as family and life and love, I am so lucky. I do believe in fate, and karma and the powers of positive energy and positive thinking, so sometimes that contradicts the idea of “luck”, but non-the less, I feel like I have had a good run. I just wonder how others see it sometimes.

A couple of months ago, I learned a little about how Julia sees it and thought I would share. It is no secret, but we all love our Chinese food in the Carr house. Chicken balls, some rice and a beef dish of some kind. I always knew that Julia loves reading the fortune cookies but I didn’t realize that she actually saves them. Well, I found her stash. She keeps them under her phone case, and when she left it in my room, beside my charger one day, I had to snap a picture. It would seem that the one on top says it all, and I couldn’t agree more! “Just be yourself you are wonderful!”

Off to try and be wonderful!

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week,



6 years ago, I wrote of my mom’s death a day or two after she passed, and at the time talked about the difference between writing it and saying and the fact that she was gone was still so surreal. This memorial comes almost 5 months after my dad’s death and although I have scribbled some general thoughts down, writing this now is not any easier. They do say time heals and I agree that one-day it will but for now, compiling my thoughts on my dad’s death is difficult. I am conflicted. I am mad that he never seemed to listen to his kids about eating healthier or exercising more. I’m mad I didn’t have more time with him. I am happy he is suffering no more, and happy that there is no more doctors appointments and bad news and happy I don’t have to see him as he was in the last few weeks, but still mad that he is gone and mad and sad that the music has stopped.

“Don’t look so sad, I know it’s over. But life goes on, and this old world will keep on turning… Let’s just be glad we had some time to spend together.”

Lines from the opening stanza of a song that will forever remind me of my Father.   You see, “For the Good Times” was the last song I ever heard my dad play live. It was about a month before he died and the outcome was but a fraction of what I had heard of that same song so many times before. Truth is, it almost never happened, but for the persuasion of an awesome and over the top caring PSW named Jenny. It was a Wednesday I think.

He’d always sing for his workers but lines or a phrase in reference to something he’d see, but never a full song and he would never play the guitar. But, somehow that afternoon, after telling Jenny his guitar was just downstairs, she wouldn’t let it go. “Aw, come on. Sing me a song Jimmy!   I’d like that very much!” She kept saying like she was trying to get a 5 year old to eat his peas.

That coaxing happened a lot that last couple of months. Dad didn’t want to do much. Even lost his interest in endlessly watching old movies. Sleep was the only thing that excited him. That and perhaps a Pepsi.

“But life goes on, and this old world will keep on turning… Let’s just be glad we had some time to spend together.”

He didn’t look comfortable in the chair in the living room that day, but sat there and played just the same and sung the song the best he could. His strength had gone; memory lost but the fingers worked, almost on their own changing the cords and the verses sung week, but strength increased during the chorus as if to emphasize the all-important words:

“And make believe you love me, one more time, for the good times”

He was singing to the three of us in the room, but with a look into my eyes he was saying it to me. I think he thought that with my often-harsh tone and abrupt way of dealing with him, especially over the last months of his life, that somehow he had disappointed me. And that is perhaps the biggest struggle I have had over this last 5 months.

My dad never cured anything. He never made a million dollars. He never solved a major world problem, or contributed a fortune 500’s bottom line. He drove a truck. He worked very hard his entire life for everything he had and died with little, but he was not a disappointment to me. He had three wonderful children, “not a throw away in the bunch” he would say. He had a roof over his head and a car. A couple of boxes of old pictures and some clothing and his guitar, little of anything to show for all he did in his 82 years. But he was not a disappointment.

My dad was selfish. Stubbornly selfish in fact, but before you think that that is a negative thing, let me clarify. He loved making people smile and laugh. He loved singing songs and performing for people. He had told me that he was driven to be in the center of attention, because he was incredibly shy. He said that if he made someone laugh or smile that would calm him and he would be ok. The selfish part would be that he craved that attention and would often choose that over family functions. Doing the jam or show for others was really him doing it for just himself. And that is all right. He made people happy. He made people smile and laugh with his jokes and songs, and in the end, he made a difference in peoples lives. He died with a wealth of admiration and appreciation and a thousand songs in his head, and that may just be the greatest of riches of all.

Near the end of his life, in the quiet beautiful room Dad died in at Bethel house, I told him a bunch of times that I was proud of him and that I loved him, but could have done more to make him see for sure the difference he made in peoples lives. I could have said more or perhaps done more to show him that in my eyes he was not a disappointment at all. I could have been a better son and tried to remember to tell him how proud I was of him, at least as often as he would say it to me.

So, back to that Wednesday in October, in a living room in Caledon, for a final time, he put away his fear, he hid his pain, dug deep and mustered a voice, and for a couple of minutes, one last time, he tried to make someone smile by being happy himself playing his guitar.

“Make believe you love me, one more time, for the good times”

The Trip
A particularly fond memory of my father was the trip we took last summer to see my sister and her family in Newfoundland. It had been 4 years since I saw my sister, and more than 5 since my dad had, and that thought of not being able to say a true, face-to-face goodbye for my sister troubled me. So I hatched a plan to hit the road with the girls, my sister Debbie and my father. We had a small window of time; so planning was fast. From inception to departure, I think it was 8 or 9 days.

DadtripThe specific reason for taking the trip was unclear to me until maybe 1200 kilometers into it.   Cats In The Cradle came on the radio, and the irony of my dad singing, all be it the wrong lyrics, relaying the sentiment of the father / son song from the 70’s about troubled relationships or perhaps lost opportunity, somehow made the trips’ purpose clear to me.

Not in Disney fashion, the story of a struggled relationship, re-kindled to a place of happy, all wrapped up in 90 minutes of laughs and tears, over coming obstacle on a sunny day road trip; but a real story of unforgiving or maybe excepting or perhaps coming to terms with the fact that it’s ok to not be good.

It’s okay that this is contrary to what would be called a great father relationship. My Dad didn’t teach me to drive or coach my little league games. He didn’t help with science fair projects or drive me to the mall to help me rent my graduation tux. But that is okay. That stuff all got done. Others filled in. But in absence, a much more important lesson actually emerged. I learned from him, what kind of father I wanted to be. I learned what it would take and what I needed to do, and I am a great father because of it. Because of him, I am the father I am.

My parents divorced when I was two, and I grew up with my sisters and mom living in the house my grandmother owned and ran like a ship.   When my dads’ name came up in conversation, it was not often, dripping with sunshine and warm breezes.   When I was old enough to remember things, I feared him. My twin sister tells a story of her hiding out in the school yard, in one of those large tire toys, one day that we where told my dad was coming to get us for a visit. My older sister and I apparently ran to him, but she stayed hidden because of the fear.

In my earliest memories of my dad, I must be around 7 or 8. We would go for overnight or weekend visits.   I remember glimpses of things, like a trip to Marineland, or visiting my uncle’s cottage. I remember staying in a motel on highway 115 on our way to visit my aunt. “Jimmy, this is your new mom!” He would say to a waitress serving us breakfast, just to make her smile. My dad always seemed to be the center of attention. Happiest guy in the room. Always ready with a joke or a song or a line about earrings or “flirting” with ladies.   There was always music and guitar playing a laughing on the part of the people around us, so the juxtaposition of those happy and somewhat fun elements, confused a young mind who’s opinions had already been painted in dislike.

My relationship with my dad was complicated until I was maybe 16 or 17. When I wanted to learn more of his life and spend more time with him. I started playing the guitar, and that gave us common ground. I would call him up and he would try to explain the chord changes over the phone. When I started to work, I got a job in a summer with him at Canada Cartage as a “helper”. It was long and hard hours and in just a few short months I realized, I didn’t want to drive a truck for a living. He wouldn’t have let me, even if I did.

In my twenties, with a girlfriend and mobility, we would often drop in on him and go to bingo or a movie. When I lived with Debbie and Guy for a couple of years, I saw him almost every week for the Tuesday Guitar lesson, touted as a chance for dad to teach my brother in-law and I some songs, but really it was just a chance to get together, have dinner and jam.

But after he retired he moved up north and things changed. The visits where limited to select family functions and the occasional road trip. With a young family and the demands of dance and other kid activities and jobs and such, perhaps the visits where not as frequent as they should have been. We would try to talk on the phone, but even those once weekly calls, also slowed to more of a when we needed kind of thing.

There were lots of medical issues over the last 10 years of his life, so in that time, many of the long trips ended up to be hanging out in hospitals for this or that. In fact I have at least 3 different hospitals in my contact list, as a result of over night stays for any number of things. Dad was diagnosed as borderline diabetic in 2006, had a stroke in 2008, parts of his lung removed with cancer in 2009, skin cancer in 2010 and liver cancer in 2011, gallbladder issues in around there too, and also heart arrhythmia with a pacemaker installed for good measure.

One specific doctors’ appointment I remember put it all into perspective for me. It was the last time we saw a specialist in fact, the “last hope” doctor to approve the specialized radiation treatment that could possibly slow or stop the tumor growth on his liver. As he was reviewing the huge file he said, “Let me get this straight. A stroke, cancer 3 times, diabetes, heart arrhythmia, gallbladder and liver issues? That about it?” He was mulling it over and shaking his head a bit and finally said, “Any one of these things on their own could have already killed you. I think you should just live every day from this point forward as a gift and enjoy what time you have left.” Clarity and stark reality check that was not lost on me.

In Closing
Today on a beach, by a lake, not to far from where we spread my aunt Mae’s ashes we drew to a close officially the life of my Father by committing his ashes to the earth and water. In the cold crisp sun of an April sky, with a light wind, I untapped the plastic bag, walked to the middle of an icy pier and let him fly. A fitting cap to two days of sharing and laughing and family, friends and music the way he would have liked.

Last night more than 90 people came together to sing songs and listen to music and tell stories of a man who touched them all. My dad was celebrated and appreciated and in a final way, thanked for all he gave to so many. He would have been the loudest in the room, had he been there in person, and would have laughed and held court by correcting some of the facts as he saw and making us all laugh with a story or three about his life.

Thanks to all who came out and thanks to all who have sent message to me or my sisters with stories about my Father. If you have something to share, please email –

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week,

Chasing Some Tail, North Bay, One Love and My First Album

Chasing Some Tail, North Bay, One Love and My First Album, a few words all tied together, telling a few stories from the Carr’s for another week in 2016.

Chasing Tail
Ever have one of those days that you are just running around like crazy? I have heard the expression, “Like a dog chasing your tail” a thousand times and although Bentley did some weird stuff he never really actually chased it. Kokomo however, is a different story. She is so comical. She does it all the time, and last week when I watched her doing it for what seemed liked 10 minutes, I sent myself a “blog” reminder email that simply said, “chasing tail”.

Kokomo will be walking slowly outside, and catch her own tail movement out of the corner of her eye and totally go crazy spinning this way and that, trying to get just a little bit of it. She looks like she catches it sometimes too, but never stops moving. Just changes direction. She seems smart, and I think she totally gets that it is actually attached to her body, but that doesn’t mean it’s still not fun to chase it I suppose. Perhaps she does it for her own amusement or maybe it’s some kind of exercise routine? I just know it sure is funny to watch her and even funnier if you egg her on a bit… “You almost got it… go Kokomo, you can do it… catch that tail!!”

North Bay
I always like spouting off a bit in the blog about the accomplishments of the girls. We are so very lucky that they both are amazingly creative, funny and all around great people. Well, boasting proud papa moment here over the last bunch of weeks, Jordyn was part of the senior girls curling team at her high school. They opened the season, with a gold medal win at their first bonspiel and continued to ride an unbeaten streak into their season. They tied a game near the end of the season and then the following week lost a game to that same team, and in the finals a couple of weeks ago, ended up loosing one more game to that same team. That left them with a Silver Medal in all of Peel and they got invited, as well as the gold medal team to play in the provincials this past week in North Bay.

They didn’t fair well in the cold north, but by all accounts they had a blast anyway. They ended up meeting new people, seeing a different part of the province, and creating some life long memories doing something that they all love to do. We missed her for the 4 days, but through absence; grows fondness so she came back a little taller in our eyes. So very proud of the overall lesson learned as well, that if you try hard and work with your team and if you throw life’s rocks just right, you to can experience some fun things. Great job Jordyn!

Ok so true confession time. The very first Album I ever purchased was Zenyatta Mondatta by The Police. If you know your music or in the least are able to Google, you would find out it was released in the fall of 1980. I don’t think I have ever told anyone that, or at least it has never really come up in conversation, but this week I thought of that event and the process and it brought a smile to my face on a couple of different levels.The Police

You see, before Jordyn left on her trip, she wanted to check the balance on her debit card. So I took her to the bank. What she didn’t know was that I brought along a big zip look bag full of change I’d been collecting over the last year. With Jordyn’s help, I dumped it all in the coin counting machine and was pleased when it spit out the voucher for $248.89. The surprise was that I split the proceeds between the girls and that left Jordyn with more than she needed for her road trip. I guess that gesture made it so that she wanted to pay me back in some small way, so I was the only one in the family to get a souvenir from North Bay.

Jordyn, knowing that my office walls are covered in 45s and that I like the look and sound of records, decided that she would buy me some vinyl. And without prompting or coaching or that little nugget of information about my first album, she laid out her 5 dollars for The Singles – by The Police. So, not only do we share a little portion of DNA, we also have in common, the artist of the first album we each bought all be it 36 years apart.

One love
I love driving with the girls and have talked about the fact that we always have music playing. Sometimes, when I am on the stations that play what they call “old” music, I am surprised to hear them hum or even sing along. One day a while back, with Julia in the car and the music loud, I heard the familiar opening of one of my all time favourite summer, windows down driving songs and Julia didn’t miss a beat, and started singing along right away and it amazed me.

“One Love! One Heart! Hear the children cryin’ (One Love!);
Hear the children cryin’ (One Heart!),
Sayin’: give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right;”

In amazement, I said, “How do you know this song Buglia?” and in the most incredulous tone she could muster she said, “Who doesn’t know Bob Marley Daddy?

Remember Me
Who doesn’t like to be remembered? I suppose there are some that want to stay off the grid and live their life with little if any movement in their life pond, but the question struck me odd the other day when filling in a login field on a bank website I was visiting. When did the question change? Those stupid little, horrible for security check boxes that ask if you would like the website to record your login credentials in a little cookie someplace, no longer say “remember password”. Now for some reason they say, “Remember Me, click here”.

I found it odd and thought a lot about that, seemingly simple turn of phrase. In an instant it made me question whether I was worthy enough or memorable enough to warrant a little check. Have I done enough or have made an impact or difference in this world. It just seems so much larger of a question by personalizing it as they have and I had to think about it for a while. So, although I did NOT check the box, I want to be perfectly clear about this. Yes, please, please remember me.

In closing
I love my iphone and love Siri, but I don’t have the level of reliable relationship that Julia has with her. Perhaps out of a bit of laziness or just a lack of want to type, Julia asks Siri on her phone to do just about everything for her. “Siri can you please set a reminder to empty the dishwasher in 1 hour!” “Sure Julia I have set that for you.” “Thank you Siri, Goodbye” “My pleasure Julia, I live to serve” Each and every day, I overhear a conversation like this and think, wow this kid is smart but that phone is the bomb!

She doesn’t know everything though, this Siri thing. Sometimes she fails. More often than not, it is during my conversations with her. Maybe I talk too fast or too slow? The other week I asked something like, “Siri can you call Nathalie at work” and she said, “Call Nathanial Bloke?” I don’t even have a “Nathanial Bloke” in my phone. Fail. So when I got a text from Nathalie this week, outlining how Siri had some issues regarding paternity and it was started by the girls, I justifiably laughed.

The convo I understand went like this. I had done something to deserve praise so Nathalie asked the girls, to send a text to me and say, “Thank You!” So, Jordyn grabbed the closest phone—Julia’s, and hit the home button and said, “Siri text dad: Thank you!” Followed by a slight pause, Siri answers: “I’m sorry I don’t know who your father is.” Well Nathalie lost it laughing and so did the girls, and now I suppose Nathalie has some explaining to do.

Off to get a paternity test!
Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week!