Thanks for the conversation

Gerry Phelan
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Wow. It’s been almost three years since I started writing Fridays with Gerry. What a journey it has been.

I spent three decades hiding under the cover of radio and thought I’d exit into a quiet retirement outside the journalism business. But The Telegram tapped me on the shoulder and every week since I have shared my views with you.

This is my 150th column for this newspaper, a bittersweet occasion as it is my last. I had originally penned a piece on Hooters coming to town; that will have to wait for my private chats with those who know me.

It has been an interesting ride, sharing my thoughts about everyday issues. There was the foray into political dealings — federal, provincial and municipal.  

Our lack of a voice on the federal scene drove me nuts, and I still shake my head at some of the actions of the Dunderdale government. Too many times I asked, what were they thinking? I predicted Kathy Dunderdale would leave. She has.  

My favourite topics were never political, but more bread and butter. I believe we all have concerns about rip-offs at the grocery stores, bank fees and yes, those cursed power bills. I probably wrote one too many columns about my lack of faith in the electrical system.

I asked questions about Muskrat Falls because I didn’t think we had all the information we needed about the pros and cons of the project. I still don’t, and maybe it is too late, but questions must continue to be asked. We are and will be paying for this project for the rest of our lives.

This column has given me some wonderful opportunities. I got to spend a few hours with a war veteran selling poppies for Remembrance Day.

I had an opportunity to share a Saturday morning with a couple of Korean War vets who shared their lives openly and candidly. And I was humbled to speak with and have a lot of correspondence with some of our vets from Afghanistan. Several asked me to share their stories in a book. I may do so.

There is tremendous power in the printed word, and I have seen it first hand. I will forever remember that my views on my relationship with Catholicism prompted one reader to recognize and come to grips with abuse they suffered so long ago; that a column on elder abuse was the spark that led a woman to realize her niece’s visits at cheque time were more than just coincidence; and that sharing experiences with the world of addictions let two families know they really are not alone.      

I’ve told you my views on muscle trucks and online voting, the minimum wage (it is too minimum) and search and rescue.  

I’ve even written a piece on poop.  

I hope you will remember when I wrote, “What does turkey taste like through a feeding tube? The question might be crass if asked to a stranger, but to a good friend at Thanksgiving, maybe not. Phil is suffering the after-effects of cancer treatments he had years ago. A conversation with him last weekend gave me so many more reasons to be thankful.”

Phil is still alive and telling the rest of us life is OK.  I am blessed to have him as a friend. I’m glad I could tell you his story.

I can honestly say that not once in 34 months did I not have a topic to write about. There was not one week when I didn’t have something to say. Most of that is due to you.

In my first appearance in this newspaper, on April 1, 2011, I said, “I am a storyteller, and now I have another shot at telling your stories. They are ever so more interesting than my own.”

I was wrong. They are not my stories or your stories. They were our stories. They were our opinions. They still are.

Mitch Albom, in his book “Have a Little Faith,” says “nothing haunts like the things we don’t say.”

Thanks for reading. Thanks for sharing.

Gerry Phelan is a journalist and former broadcaster.

He can be reached at

Geographic location: Afghanistan

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