Category Archives: Inspiration

Rob Pelletier, Mob Boss of Wellness

Rob Pelletier,  Master Coach
Rob Pelletier,
Master Coach

As an instructor in mixed martial arts, Rob Pelletier has for many years taught his clients how to inflict pain. As a Master Coach in Toronto he instructed in boxing, Muay Thai, MMA, Self Defense and sports conditioning. He also managed a gym with 22,000 members. Almost 3 years ago he and wife Donna established a gym located on the main street of Keremeos. Since that time their vision has altered radically and, although they still offer instruction in martial arts, Coach Rob has become known as “the mob boss of wellness.”

When Linda and I entered their Main Event gym across from the liquor store, I was immediately impressed by the heavy duty punching bags suspended from the ceiling, the type that can withstand serious pummelling by powerful fists and feet. Rob walked toward us, exuding energy and enthusiasm. A big, well constructed man, I could easily picture him clad in shorts, engaged in high level competition.



We sat on stools at a small coffee bar in the rear of the gym and I asked Rob how he had got started. A palpable passion energized his voice and hand gestures as he began talking. “When I was age 8, my parents enrolled me in boxing. I had a lot of energy and they thought boxing would be good for me.” That eventually led to a career in mixed martial arts. Early in his career he trained in the gym where 12 year old Lennox Lewis (later one of the world’s greatest heavyweight boxers) was working out. Over the years he trained with numerous high profile fighters and knew five time Canadian Heavyweight Boxing Champion, George Chuvalo.

“When Donna and I moved to Keremeos we began doing private training in our home,” he said. “We leased this building which was then vacant and in a state of disrepair.”

Donna Pelletier
Donna Pelletier

He now turned the conversation in another direction. “In the beginning Martial Arts was our emphasis, and we still do that. Donna teaches ladies kick boxing. However, retired people started dropping in. Some just wanted to have a coffee and talk. We began to realize their health was failing because many people are not physically active in retirement.”

Their changing clientele prompted a shift to promoting wellness. This attracted individuals of all ages wanting to deal with a variety of issues. Rob’s experience had prepared him for this transition. He had worked with sports psychologists and athletic therapists. He had also taken accredited courses in wellness.

Health professionals began recognizing the benefit of their programs. A cardiologist sent a man with a pacemaker. He had almost died, but is now working out on a treadmill at the gym. Physiotherapists are also referring clients. The Pelletiers are recognized by insurance companies. While we were talking, Don and his wife came in. Having had a shoulder replacement, he wanted help in gaining strength and movement.


“We’re a safety net for people in aftercare,” Rob said. “Some of our clients stop smoking. A wife told us her husband is drinking less alcohol. Some people report their medications are more effective when they work out here. Others rely less on prescriptions.”

The Pelletier’s have clients ranging in age from 5 to 80. Wanting to ensure that children from less affluent homes don’t miss out, they at times provide free memberships.

Sometimes people say, “I know I should exercise,” or “I should be more careful about what I eat.” But they don’t make the needed changes. “People rely on doctors and prescriptions to maintain their health,” Rob believes, “but we need to accept responsibility for our health.”


He stresses the role of our thinking. “It’s important to focus on what we can do, not on what we cannot do. What we do here is a form of proactive medicine.” He draws a lesson from physical combat. “If 2 fighters of equal ability and strength are in the ring, the one with a stronger attitude will win.” He tapped his head with a finger to support his words. I began to understand that an emphasis on strong, positive thinking is at the crux of his philosophy.

As we were about to leave, Coach Rob said, “some people go across the street to the liquor store for what they think they need. Some come in here and begin a program of wellness that will change their lives.”

Exploring the Mystery of Easter

Crosses - three
Crosses – three

Biblical accounts of Easter events seem to me improbable, puzzling and at the same time fascinating. As a kid I dreaded Good Friday because it entailed attending church and listening to a preacher who spoke a language I didn’t understand. In my adult years I’ve wondered why an all-powerful God would send his son to planet earth to be ridiculed and harassed by Jewish religious leaders and nailed to a cross by Roman soldiers. Surely he could have devised a more comprehensible scheme. One that did not require the ignominious death of his son on a cross.

By the time Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Jews had already endured the cruelty of the Assyrians, and then captivity in Babylon during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar. Permitted to return to their homeland by Darius, the Medo-Persian monarch, they had still been in bondage. Then the Greeks imposed Hellenization, weakening their culture and religion. And now the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus was exacting oppressive taxes that impoverished them.

The 6th century B.C. Jewish prophets, Isaiah and Micah, had written about a coming Messiah, but when Jesus arrived and said he was the son of God, Jewish religious leaders turned against him early in his public life. They had long anticipated a powerful political saviour who would arrive with pomp and ceremony and deliver them from the succession of foreign masters. This man Jesus had come into the world as an infant, the son of a lowly carpenter.

He didn’t meet their expectations. His message was a radical departure from the longstanding “eye for an eye and tooth for tooth” response to adversaries. Rather, in his oft quoted Sermon on the Mount, he urged the gathering crowd to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

His message included a warning against the hypocrisy of Jewish religious leaders, the Sadducees and Pharisees. “They like to walk around in flowing robes,” he said, “and love to be greeted in the market places and have the most important seats in the synagogues and at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers.”

Accustomed to reverential respect, such sentiments did not endear him to the religious elites. They were rattled by the rebukes and Jesus’ unwillingness to observe their myriad rules. They were incensed at the numbers of people flocking to listen to him. Equally galling was his claim to be the son of God. His radical philosophy was undermining their exalted positions.

The crowds recognized that, unlike the chief priests and teachers of the law, Jesus wasn’t socially or politically ambitious. He wasn’t seeking position, wealth or power. He made no effort to charm his audience. He wanted to free the people from man made strictures. His unorthodox, unvarnished message emphasized love, forgiveness and hope.

In line with what had been written by ancient prophets, he spoke of his own impending death. Referring to himself he said “he will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him and flog him, and kill him.” Then he added, “and on the third day he will rise again.”

One event in particular awed the crowds and shocked the Sadducees and Pharisees. This was Jesus’ act of raising Lazarus from the dead. It was too much for the religious elites. Seeing their tight control over the people being eroded, they decided he must die.

Crucifixion was common in the Roman Empire and they demanded that the governor, Pontius Pilate, order this fate for Jesus. After questioning him, Pilate said, “I find no reason for this man to die.” The Jewish leaders incited the onlookers to demand Jesus’ death and Pilate, fearing a disturbance, relented. He instructed a centurion and his troop to nail him to a cross on a hill outside the town. The cross was placed between 2 criminals, also on crosses. One mocked him, the other asked to be remembered. Jesus said, “today you will be with me in paradise.”

Easter Lily
Easter Lily

This plan for the redemption of humankind is so unusual and perplexing, many cannot embrace it. Even so, millions around the globe will celebrate Easter this weekend.
Although still not fully comprehending, I will be one of them.

The Hedley Sunshine Girls

Hedley Sunshine Girls
Hedley Sunshine Girls

I call Evangeline and Shizandra the “Hedley Sunshine Girls” because their joy of life is refreshing and contagious, much like an unexpected ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. About a year ago I began thinking it would be fun to have them as my friends. When I attempted to get them to notice me though, I just didn’t possess the IMG_2386charm or charisma to capture their attention. They were in their own little world, sometimes crawling on the floor, pretending they were dogs, sometimes racing each other non-stop. Probably because I was an adult, their young minds could think of no reason to let me in.

IMG_2312I persevered though and asked their mother if I could take a few pictures. She agreed and although the girls didn’t stop long enough to pose, I snapped several shots of them in action. When I showed them the photos on my camera, they were intrigued at seeing themselves.

IMG_2387They are now willing to participate in my amateur photography and quickly come around to view the pictures. Evangeline even offered me an Oreo cookie which she had licked clean of the icing.

For many in our community, the Hedley Sunshine Girls are a delight. They give us a reason to smile.

20 Years As Hedley Postmaster

Ruth Woodin Celebrates 20 Years as Hedley Postmaster
Ruth Woodin Celebrates 20 Years as Hedley Postmaster

It would not be an exaggeration to say last Friday was a Red Letter day for Ruth Woodin. The people of the community arrived in droves to celebrate her 20 years as Hedley Postmaster. The town’s organizations and many individuals brought cards and stayed for coffee and cake. Her body may have been sore at the end of the day from numerous warm hugs. It was the culmination of many years of smiling at customers and providing efficient, courteous service.

Postmaster Ruth Woodin  with loyal customers, Brad & Lana Bain
Postmaster Ruth Woodin with loyal customers, Brad & Lana Bain

“I’m really fortunate to have so many nice customers,” she said. “A lot of people are very loyal to their local post office. They won’t buy their stamps anywhere else. They know that helps keep the service in town.”

The importance of supporting the Post Office is a message she feels everyone needs to be aware of. Occasionally she reminds a local citizen of this. “Several years ago a man came in with 75 Christmas cards,” she said. “They already had stamps affixed to them. I mentioned I didn’t recall him buying the stamps here. He told me he had bought them in Princeton. I explained to him it’s important to support the Hedley Post Office so the service isn’t discontinued. He understood immediately and promised me it wouldn’t happen again. A number of people in town have committed to buying stamps and other services here.”

At this time Ruth is Hedley’s second longest serving Postmaster. She hopes to overtake and pass the 22 year record held by highly respected Thomas (T.C.) Knowles. Knowles was a decorated member of the Canadian Armed Forces and served in World War I. Although no longer living in Hedley, his daughters Bev and Ann have valued roots and friendships in Hedley. The Knowles family sent Ruth a congratulatory card.

The Hedley Post Office was opened in 1903, initially located in Schubert’s General Store. Ruth said it is one of the oldest in the province. For years the Postmaster’s first duty in winter was to get a fire going in the wood stove. She is grateful she doesn’t come into a frigid office in the morning. The premises were last renovated in 1978 and would benefit from another face lift, but no one is complaining. People are just grateful to have a Post Office in town. Without it, buying a stamp would entail a lot more effort.

Canada Post provided several door prizes for the occasion, including a 2011 book containing every stamp issued that year. Fittingly, this was won by local historian, Jennifer Douglass. The chocolate cake was baked by T.J. Bratt of the Hedley Country Market and received numerous positive comments.

Local MLA Linda Larson sent a letter congratulating Ruth on 20 years of serving her community faithfully as postmaster. Pat, who works in the constituency office had read about Ruth online. She spoke with a local citizen and said, “It sounds like a very friendly Post Office. I wish I could pick up my mail in Hedley.” Judging by the happy buzz in the place on Friday, the people agree with this perspective.

Photos By Terry Friesen

"Back in the Day" by Terry Friesen
“Back in the Day” by Terry Friesen

I discovered Terry Friesen’s online photos approximately 2 years ago and have returned to them repeatedly since then. I called Terry at his home in Abbotsford this week and asked if I could “borrow” pictures occasionally for my blog. He very graciously acquiesced so from time to time I will post examples of his photography.

In his work life Terry refers to himself as a Re-decorator. He paints and hangs wall paper (including tricky murals) He has frequently written on his blog (  about jobs just completed. For me it’s fascinating reading. For anyone contemplating giving a new face to their home it can be helpful.

Terry said he doesn’t do new homes. “From the beginning, I learned to be very careful around my customers’ furniture,” he said. “My son Andrew is my partner. He’s even more careful. It’s a privilege to work together with him. Working for customers in their homes is a lot more enjoyable for me than dealing with contractors. Contractors are more interested in getting the job done fast than in quality work.”

I hope you will enjoy Terry’s photos as much as I do. You can view a broad range of his photos at



Lauren Barwick, Inspirational Equestrian

Lauren Barwick
Lauren Barwick

In a 2 hour telephone conversation from her home in Florida last week, paralympic gold medalist Lauren Barwick told me about her devastating accident and how it changed her life. Born in Langley, BC, she loved horses and riding. When a 100 pound bale of hay fell on her and broke her back, she lost all strength and feeling in her legs from her hips down. That day she also lost her dream of being a movies stunt rider.

“After 2 months in the G.F. Strong Rehab Centre,” she said, “I returned to my home, thinking everything I had wanted to do was now impossible. Mom urged me to get on a horse, but I told her I wanted nothing to do with that.”

Only 22 when the accident happened in 2000, she drifted into a state of deep discouragement and depression. A former coach visited, and against vigorous protests, put her on a horse. He talked about preparing for the 2004 Athens Paralympics.

“I had been doing a lot of reflecting,” she said. “I knew I had 3 options. I could be miserable and make people around me miserable. I could end my life. Or, I could move on. I stopped asking ‘why me?’ Instead I now asked, ‘Why would I not be able to win a gold medal?’”

She had trained briefly at the renowned Parelli ranch prior to the accident, but had not completely bought into their philosophy. Now she negotiated with them and returned to the ranch.

Having no lower back muscles and no feeling in her legs, she embarked on a vigorous, disciplined program to strengthen her upper body. Regular visits to the gym included throwing a medicine ball and a lot of time on pulling machines. Outside she did sprints, and also longer distances, in her wheel chair. She grew stronger and now does 10 kilometres a day 2 to 3 times per week. She found mentors and read inspirational books. “I needed to become strong mentally, emotionally and physically,” she said.

The Parelli teaching was well suited to her physical circumstances. Pat Parelli emphasizes partnership without domination and willingness without intimidation. “Don’t kick the horse to start, don’t pull the reins to stop,” is basic to his teaching. Lauren’s philosophy reflects this understanding. There was evident joy in her voice when she said, “my horses catch me. I don’t catch them. I don’t force them to do what I want them to do. A horse can be an incredible partner.”

For Lauren the relationship with a horse is important, even precious. “I treat a horse the way I like to be treated. I want to be my horse’s first choice. I have to earn that by showing respect. It’s the same with humans.” She still stays up late to watch videos about horses. “Studying horsemanship has taught me about myself, morals, the way I live.”

This understanding helps her focus on the good in her life. She is grateful, especially to the Parellis. While under their sponsorship they paid her competition fees and provided accommodation and food. “The Parelli’s enabled me to obtain an incredible education.” She also appreciates the assistance of Canada’s “Own the Podium” program and Equine Canada.

Lauren Barwick, Paralympic Dressage Rider
Lauren Barwick, Paralympic Dressage Rider

Lauren’s capacity to focus on her vision, her discipline and courage in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, have earned her a place on the international equestrian stage. She has participated in some 50 international events, including 4 world games and the Beijing Paralympics, where she won silver and gold. She is also a much in demand public speaker, providing inspirational talks based on her life. Currently she is training for the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

A 4-star instructor in the Parelli Natural Horsemanship program, she operates her own farm and training centre at Reddick, Florida. She rides 2 to 5 horses a day, usually 6 days a week. Without use of her legs, this is tiring. For 2 to 9 hours a day she teaches horsemanship and conducts clinics and work shops. Her program, Bridging the Gap, attracts clients from diverse places like Germany, Norway, New Zealand, England and the U.S.

Lauren Barwick acknowledges that “since the day when that 100 pound bale broke my back, it hasn’t been easy.” Her parting words to me were, “We need to be open minded. That enables us to see the ideas and opportunities that may help us.”

Winter Scenes in Manning Park

Linda and I drove from the Fraser Valley to Hedley December 28th, after celebrating Christmas with family and friends.  We stopped at Manning Park Lodge just long enough to buy coffee and get a few photos.  This stretch of the #3 Highway again offered a winter splendor that fostered a deep sense of delight.

Approaching Manning Park Lodge
Approaching Manning Park Lodge
Glimpse of a cabin on the other side of the highway
Glimpse of a cabin on the other side of the highway
Snow laden trees
Snow laden trees
Glimpse of blue sky added to the splendor.
Glimpse of blue sky added to the splendor.


A New Vision For A New Year

Cover Of Book By Serena Williams
Cover Of Book By Serena Williams

Standing on the threshold of a new year, some of us will dare believe we can rise up like eagles and attempt what we have thus far only dreamed of. We will dare to contemplate possibilities that both excite and frighten us.

Working with out of control adolescents on the streets of Surrey and also at Camp Colonial in Hedley, I began to understand that within each of us lies buried a belief we are destined to accomplish something significant with our lives. This understanding was bolstered one morning when Mickey refused to get out of bed and go for breakfast. Only 15, he had been sent by a judge to the One Way Adventure Foundation in the hope one of our programs would foster a less adversarial, criminal mind-set. He was lodged with 11 other equally difficult youths in the Coach house. Fair haired and slight of build, he could be amiable when the gods were smiling on him. When discouragement overtook him though, he became obnoxious and obstinate. This morning, I told the workers to take the others to breakfast and I’d talk with Mickey.

I sat on the edge of his bed and we chatted casually about his family and past life. An atmosphere of despair hovered about him. His mom had visited him only once since he arrived several months ago. Her boyfriend disliked him. His mind had plunged into a deep abyss of resignation, and he had no compelling reason to get out of bed. I wondered if there was even a tiny spark that could be ignited within him.

Realizing he had awakened to a mood of utter disconsolation, I felt I needed to divert him in the most profound way I could think of. “Mickey,” I said, “do you want to do something important with your life?” A radical departure from our conversation to that point, I discerned from the sudden restlessness of his legs that the question had unsettled him. After a moment the restlessness ceased and a meek voice answered, “yah… I do.”

“Can I give you an idea of what it takes to do important things?” I asked. He nodded, probably hoping he wasn’t wandering too far onto dangerous terrain. “Almost always it begins with changing our thinking,” I said. “Changing our thinking about what we are capable of doing and about how we deal with problems. Hard things will often stand in our way. We can believe it’s possible to overcome them and do important things in spite of them.”

Mickey’s nod indicated he had not shut me out. He threw off the bedcovers, resolutely eased out of bed and reached for his pants and shirt.

Tennis super star Serena Williams could have given Mickey, and each of us, a much fuller understanding of a more productive way of thinking. In “My Life: Queen of the Court”, she discusses the value of planting positive, uplifting thoughts in our minds, and reinforcing them continually. When she was young, her mother told her “whatever you become, you become in your head first. You become what you think about most. Good thoughts are powerful.” Serena clung to these words and wrote dozens of post it notes, reminding herself of who she wanted to be and what she hoped to accomplish.

Mickey’s mother never learned the importance of planting a powerful, positive vision in the mind of her son. Like virtually every student of whom I asked the question, Mickey did have the desire to do something significant with his life. He also had at least the spark of a belief that he could.

I concluded from the experiences I had with our students there must be planted within each of us a belief we are capable of doing something that has meaning and value. For all of us, the start of a new year is a great time to think about what we want to accomplish in the coming 12 months, and in the rest of our life. We can believe for more and reach a little higher. We all have everything it takes to do important things.

A Treasured Christmas Memory


Domination of the holiday season by the corporate world appears to have doomed to obscurity the concept of the Christmas Spirit. Even a jovial mall Santa and brightly wrapped gifts under a tinsel bedecked evergreen cannot conjure up the deep joy and inner excitement many of us hope will enter our lives during this special season.

Linda and I were early in our dating relationship when we were gifted with a Christmas Spirit inducing memory. I was 19 and she was 16. It was the middle of December when the seed of the memory was sown on a road in a remote, heavily forested area behind Mission B.C.

I recall with great clarity the dark cloud that moved in rapidly and unexpectedly unleashed a drenching downpour. The windshield wipers could scarcely cope with the deluge. In the distance a grey figure became discernible, bumping in our direction beside the road. I slowed the car as we passed by. It was an elderly woman, her sodden coat wrapped tightly about her. Face toward the ground and shoulders slumping forward, she appeared feeble, miserable and utterly dejected.

Linda gasped and said, “she needs help!” I turned the car around and pulled alongside her. “Would you like a ride?” I asked. She nodded wearily, relief and gratitude on her disconsolate, lined face. I opened the rear door and, encumbered by her heavy wet coat, she clambered in awkwardly.

In a quiet, slightly quavering voice, she directed me to an obscure gravelled road. “There,” she said, “that’s where I live.” I pulled the car into a barely discernible driveway and opened the door for her. “Thank you,” she said, “I didn‘t think I’d get here.” Her teeth chattered but she declined my offer to assist her to the door of her shack.

I forgot about the woman, but Linda didn’t. The evening of December 24th, an almost full moon shining overhead, we drove again to the elderly woman’s home. Pale light shone through the only 2 windows. Walking toward the house, holding hands, we heard a dog bark inside. I knocked on the door, and the dog barked again. After waiting a long minute in the chill night air, I knocked a second time, more vigorously. Still no answer, so I made a fist and banged with considerable force. Excited barking suggested there might be more than one dog.

Sounds emanated from inside, as though the shack was shifting. Finally the door opened just enough to reveal the woman’s wispy face and uncombed hair. It was evident she wasn’t accustomed to company, especially two strangers after darkness had set in. She peered warily through the barely open door.

“Hello,” Linda said. “We picked you up a few weeks ago when it rained so hard. We’re here to wish you a Merry Christmas.”

Reassured, she stepped out onto the porch, clad in a flimsy house coat. “I’d invite you in,” she said apologetically, “but I have 17 dogs in there.”

She glanced up at the nearly full moon, then asked, “is it Christmas?” In the light of the moon a wistful expression on her lined face was clearly visible. “When I was a child my grandparents took me to church with them one Christmas Eve,” she said. “There was a manger and shepherds with sheep. A baby lay in the manger. They said it was Jesus. That was many years ago. I had forgotten.”

nativity scene 3

We talked for about 5 minutes, then saw she was shivering in the December air. Linda presented her with a small gift and we bade her farewell. She followed us to the car. As I backed onto the road, she stood clearly silhouetted in the light of the moon. Waving vigorously, she called, “Au revoir! Au revoir!” I turned down the car window, waved, and responded “auf wieder sehen!” As we drove away, she continued to wave and call out “au revoir!”

In time, Linda and I were married, adopted 2 wonderful children and pursued careers. I rarely thought about the little lady living alone with 17 dogs in an unpainted shack. A few years ago, just before Christmas I thought of her standing alone in the moonlight, waving with great fervour and calling “au revoir!”

Now each year, the memory rekindles the Christmas Spirit that otherwise might lie dormant within me. It’s a reminder that when I bring joy into someone’s life, I also receive joy.

Never Too Late For A Circle Of Friends

Our friend Laura at Manning Park Lodge
Our friend Laura at Manning Park Lodge

When Linda and I stopped at the Manning Park Lodge to pick up coffee last week, Laura told us she’d be leaving soon. Young, pretty and convivial, she has always had time for a brief visit with us in the park store. Earlier this year I wrote about her on my blog, calling her “the prettiest girl in Manning Park.” Apparently she has a huge fan base. That post drew an incredible number of visits. We had become friends. When she told us she was leaving Manning Park, we were disappointed, realizing we might never see her again.

Friendships in our society are frequently short lived. They may surprise us like a brief ray of sunshine on a sombre day, then quickly fade away. We tend to be rather blasé about relationships, possibly because geographically many of us do not put down deep roots. In the past people often stayed in the village or town where they were born. This gave relationships time to mature.

Friendship Circle by Starwood Quilter
Friendship Circle by Starwood Quilter

When Laura told us she was leaving Manning Park, I was reminded of Roy. One of my most useful lessons concerning friendships came from him, an entirely unlikely source. My work at that time frequently took me into provincial and federal prisons. During those years I developed relationships of considerable trust with men doing time for fraud, trafficking in heroin and cocaine, murder, etc. In some cases all their relationships with people outside prison had been severed and they received no visits. When they became eligible for a Temporary Absence, Linda and I at times invited such men to our home for a meal. In some cases we became friends. Almost invariably though, upon release they reverted back to their former criminal associations and haunts. Most apparently didn’t understand the value of friends.

Inexplicably, Roy did understand, although he at times severely tested my patience. He was doing time at Matsqui Institution for b & e’s and possession of heroin. His stocky physique, massive arms and shiny dome gave the appearance of a Mafia enforcer. In his childhood and youth, family life had been a shambles. His father did jail time and his step mother didn’t want Roy in the home.

Roy never became a success story. In time he traded the heroin for alcohol, which did nothing to improve his outlook or circumstances. Unlike other men who disappeared when their parole time ran out, Roy continued to stay in contact with Walter, his community sponsor, and with Linda and myself. When our phone jangled raucously at 2 am, I knew it would be Roy. Invariably, he’d dipped deeply into some intoxicating beverage that had elevated him to a state of joyous euphoria. He was a happy drunk. Although not a religious man, as he grew older he often asked if he could pray for me and my family before we signed off.

The next day he’d phone to apologize for waking me and behaving like a fool. It was a crazy friendship but in his sober hours, Roy frequently expressed deep appreciation for Walter and his family and for Linda and myself. He had no one else in his life. I was never able to develop an appreciation for the nocturnal phone calls, but I realize now Roy desperately wanted to stay connected with his few friends.

Friendship Circle by Jennifer Sanborn
Friendship Circle by Jennifer Sanborn

When Linda and I returned to Hedley 3 years ago after an absence of 25 years, like Roy, we realized we’d need to be proactive about staying in touch. In our earlier stint here, many of our relationships in the Fraser Valley had fallen away due to lack of attention.

Not wanting another loss of friendships, we decided to employ the understanding Roy had, although we didn’t have the chutzbah to make middle of the night calls. I think of it as the Roy Friendship Plan. Our version consists of writing an e-mail letter every 2 months to family and friends. The response has been gratifying. After each letter, a number of recipients respond with a note about their activities. Some invite us to come for coffee or lunch when we’re in their neighbourhood.


Although Roy has moved on to another sphere where he doesn’t need alcohol or drugs to experience euphoria, we continue to be grateful for his example. It’s never too late to gather a circle of friends.