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,

Writing, Forward Motion and a Moment To Take Back

Writing, forward motion and a moment to take back, an extended snap chat view into the life of the Carr’s, no sugar added.

Well, it has sure been a bit since I have cracked open the file labeled confessions to jot down some thoughts about my crazy life. It doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it, I have. I have even written a few things in absence of the blog. I channeled IMG_3090my inner E.L. James to craft some erotica, thinking it may lead to a bounty of riches and a lucrative movie deal, but the jury is still out. I wrote a couple sternly worded emails, a nice birthday card, and on Facebook and Twitter, I have cleverly observed and quipped about life a bunch of times all with words arranged in this way or that. I Just haven’t done it on here and I have missed it for sure. And after a conversation with one of my big fan’s and regular blog readers this morning, I figured they would at least be happy to read this.

Forward Motion
The last few months have been an interesting time to say the least. Up’s and down’s with mood, energy and attitude, wrapped in one of the coldest and hardest winter’s I ever remember. Birthdays and anniversaries, Mother’s Day and the like all marking time, as they do every year, all a constant reminder of one of my favorite thoughts / lessons – Forward Motion. I have said that if I ever write a book perhaps a “self-help, do as I say, not as I do” kind of thing, I would for sure call it Forward Motion.

I have talked about it often, and have even referenced it in my classroom and blogs-gone-by, but nothing like a few difficult months followed by some good stuff, only to be followed by more bad, to punctuate the point. YES bad will happen but it is always followed by good, so the trick in life is to keep moving. You can’t get time back, so life is most certainly forward motion. It’s a great message and what has helped me emerge on another positive arc.

So, my Dad has had a couple of small medical setbacks, and I am sure this could be new news to some whom I haven’t shared this info with before this. He is 81 and had been living on his own for a long time, and for the most part taking care of things up north. But for the time being he is alternating his time, staying with both me or my sister Deb. He has finished his treatments, and aside from being weak, he’s pretty much his regular self.

Take Back
Ever say something that right after it leaves your mouth, you think… I wish I didn’t say that? A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was having a bit of a crisis of faith around a friendship, and was seeking my ear and shoulders to bounce her thoughts off of. I politely listened and concluded that what they needed to do, was write their thoughts down in an email, but (and here’s the important part!) NOT send it. I told them, that likely after you have a couple of hours or a day to calm, re-read your message. IF it still caries the same weight then send it, but if it sounds too harsh, upon reflection, change it. OR more than likely what will happen is that you will come to realize that it is not worth the potential negative outcome, and you will in the end, just delete it.

Solid advice I think, and proudly I slept soundly, feeling like I just invented conflict resolution. Cut to the very next day, and me in a discussion with a different friend, and the same situation, but with the tables turned on me. Like a complete idiot, I angrily bash out a quick nasty response that is cloaked in insecurity and negativity, and as I hit the send, I hear my own inner voice echoing the conversation I had just hours before. Too late of course. Sent. And just like that I prove I was right, possibly in the hardest way possible.

New Boss
For the 6th time in the last 5 years, I have a new boss at work. And, I am optimistic that the change is for the good and we can finally get back to a level of stability. I have liked each of the bosses I have had (like I would say differently online!) but I am certainly hoping my new one will stay and I looking forward to coming months and the getting back into the next groove.

It would also seem weird at this time of year to not acknowledge the changing of semesters. I will hopefully speak more about this extremely energetic group of graduates in a couple of weeks, when I get to watch them walk across the stage into the next chapters of their lives. It sure is exciting to be part of that transformation. I love my job!

Las Vegas
IMG_3139Thank you in part to my new boss, I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel discussion about implementing social media into your broadcasting curriculum at this year’s BEA conference in Las Vegas, and it was fun. What I CAN tell you about the trip (you know the rule!) was that the weather was only nice for a few hours, one day, I only gambled once (ok maybe twice) betting $5 dollars all on black in roulette not for me, but for a colleague at work and that two things struck me about the town. As I arrived the smell of public smoking amazed me, and this being my second time, my quest to find smiling happy people still failed.

I would LOVE to go back, but next time it will have to be with friends. One thing that I wasn’t expecting to have happen, after I was told I could just arrive at the airport early to catch an earlier flight, only to find that they had no seats. I decided to rent a car and drive to the Hoover Dam just for kicks.

In closing
As I have send before I always write myself cryptic email’s, with the subject “blog” with normally 1 word or a sentence that will hopefully remind me of the situation that I wanted to write a blog entry about. I threw out one called “CD’s” cause for the life of me I can’t remember what it was about at all. But the one I am referencing now I do remember, and what would a Carr blog, be without a little levity?

I am not sure when it was said, or the specifics or the reason, but I remember us talking in the car, on our way someplace. Nathalie was talking about our somewhat loud, fun laughing family. The topic shifted to that fact that everyone is special in their own way. Then it was repeated and directed towards me, like I was the special one in our little family. Without missing a beat, Julia smiles and says, “But don’t worry daddy, I like your kind of special”.

Off to look for my “I am special t-shirt”!

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week.


The Friend Test, Dads and the Cosmic Powers Beyond our Control

The friend test, Dads and the cosmic powers beyond our control, straight up stories from in and around the Carr house for week 12, NO BULL.

Having a Beer
Had a laugh a couple of times this week, with social media. Nathalie and her BFF are what one might call avid Facebookers’ and as such, have some very funny observations and then post them as status updates for the world to see, or at least the group of people, lucky enough to be their friends.

This week, it was the seemingly strange battle Murphy (as in Murphy’s law) has with Karma and how we always have things to blame for the actions and happenings around us. The ladies both observed, all be it in different ways, that if these two factors just got along for once, things would be a little smoother in the world, and that made me laugh. Yes they come from different cultures, and have different abilities and sometimes different uses in life, but I laughed thinking that if Murphy was having a drink with Karma one day, and they just hashed out their different approaches to making things happen, over a nice cold pint, that they might be able to just work together to make the whole world a better place. See you CAN learn things from Facebook.

Friend Test
When students apply for the program I teach, they fill out a 13-question profile that among other things shows us the passion they have for the industry. One of my favourite questions is, “What are your favourite television programs and radio stations and why?” and it is amazing how many people, applying to a “radio” program say, “I don’t like radio”. The other side of this of course, is the people who pick the TV shows that paint a not so flattering picture of ones character. “I love Jersey Shore, because the acting is so powerful” kind of stuff.

I was talking with a friend at school about it, and laughed at the idea of having a test like this in life, so you can almost eliminate people from your world that for whatever reason don’t share your love of certain types of entertainment. Now of course, opposites do attract, so some of the results would have to be carefully scrutinized, but come on, if you would rather watch one of those Bachelor type reality shows over a good drama or even a smartly written comedy, then is there a place for the that person in you future? Nothing against those types of shows I suppose, but it just makes me laugh that if we had a way of sorting it all out, early on, it may save some fighting about the remote control down the road.

I have been thinking quite a bit about dads, and their role in your life over the last couple of weeks. A close friend lost her father 2 weeks ago, and that started me thinking about not only my own father, but also the father I am and the one I hope to be one day. One thing occurred to me, if there is one person in your life that teaches you by doing it is your Dad. I had to think about it a lot, but I so totally believe that it is true. My parents divorced when I was 2, and my dad played such a small role in my growing up, that it was hard to draw from my own life example, when so many I know have had their fathers in their entire life. But sometimes the lessons they teach are not always by being there; sometimes the lessons are examples, learned by not being there.

Over my adult life, my father and I have become much closer, and I think I have learned the importance of balance in one’s life, and the need for the fun times from him. I have heard of friends’ fathers that have been involved in their entire life, but as always a “non-supporter”. Although it is hard to imagine that as a good thing, the truth is that most will find a supportive fatherly figure, like a neighbor or teacher that will often fill that void, so that when the person is a parent themselves, they will have learned what they do not want to be like, from what was missing in their life.

I love Saturday Mornings!
So as for the Father I would like to become, I think I want to teach my kids that they can be whatever they want, and do whatever they want in life by being strong and confident a mostly a good person. I have never been a big fan of the statement, “nice guys finish last” and always say in response that I can see way more from the back. My only hope is that this lesson comes through to my girls, more as the lead by example as apposed to the, “what not to do” because I didn’t show them.

In closing

Rides in the car are always fun with the girls, and this week I got a very interesting question from Jordyn. I knew it was going to be interesting by the way it started, “Dad, we watched a video in class yesterday about a boy and a girl” Jordyn said with a smile on her face. I turn the radio down, prepare for the worst and rehearse the line I have practiced in my head for as long as I have had children. “Ok, so with the penis, is it true that it is one size, then it gets wet, and it goes straight up?”

Now while I pause here for dramatic affect, later that day, when I bumped into her teacher in the office at school, I thanked her for the lesson and the question in the car, and she laughed, adding that they had talked about erections, but after a boy in the class asked about wet dreams and waking up with one. So that must be where the “wet” came into the lesson. Jordyn remembered, wet, straight up and penis and just tied them all together.

OK, back the answer, and how I have always planned to answer the tricky sex question, “Jordyn it is not quite like that, and maybe you should go ask your Mom.” Confident it went well, I relaxed my shoulders for a second only to have her respond, “But Daddy, why would I ask Mommy, she doesn’t have a penis, that is why I am asking YOU!” Good point Jordyn, ah man, I am screwed!

See I always thought having one of these things was kind of fun, but now I am not sure!

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week!