A Pathway to an Ending

In a lifetime of diverse careers, Canadian Fred Madryga has worked as a logger, in an abattoir, as a roofing kettle, tin basher, a university lecturer and a psychologist in private psychological practice with sexual offenders. These works are inspired by his rich range of experiences and his instinct for storytelling.

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In a lifetime of diverse careers, Canadian Fred Madryga has worked as a logger, in an abattoir, as a roofing kettle, tin basher, a university lecturer and a psychologist in private psychological practice with sexual offenders.

His literary essays demonstrate a keen eye for detail and insights into diverse personalities as well as a capacity for self-reflection and personal growth through a wide range of experience and openness to the world around him.

Fred Madryga

One might think that a person would be sure of their own name. I always thought mine was Frederick. Then one day my 90-year-old Mum said; “Fred you don’t spell your name like that.” She was right too. It is Fredrick, no ‘e,’ according to my birth certificate. In addition to correcting how I spelled my name, Mum, who loved me, told me on separate occasions not to worry so much and not to toot my own horn. It wasn’t all that hard to avoid tooting. But being raised around the Fraser River canyon and in the east end of Vancouver BC, things to worry about were easy to find. I was able to achieve a doctorate in Psychology in my mid-30s. Guess which first name is on the sheepskin? The time it took to achieve such a goal was due to time-outs while working at many jobs along the way. From the age of 15 I included working in construction, logging, roofing, cladding and sheet metal work. I even had an early hiatus working at a club for the well-to-do. Later, I taught at a college and then ran my own private psychology practice. I played sports such as football and lacrosse in my late teens and early twenties and then badminton and judo back at university. Hunting, fishing and target shooting continued until my middle seventies. I found Tai Chi in my fifties and periodically go back to it My father told me there would always be greater and lesser people in my life, and there were. He said to read between the lines and to look ahead, and I tried and still do. He added that I should believe nothing I hear and only half of what I see. And, he gave me a prayer to recite when asking God to help me keep my mouth shut: “Oh lord help me keep my trap shut until I know what I am talking about.” You know what? In the end, I have usually been good enough. I have also had love in my life. My job now is to feel the grief of watching, supporting, and loving my partner of 45 years as she becomes ill and begins to struggle. “One fight more. . .”



The river is large and opaque. Even in its calm moments, one can never completely trust it. A lot is going on beneath the surface. A riffle or an eddy might appear, stay for a while, then disappear. Occasionally a hidden piece of wood, or even a full-sized log, will explode unexpectedly to the surface. Sometimes you can see the pale belly of a dead fish or some other dead thing close to the surface. When a person understands the river, visions of prehistoric sturgeon can appear. They lie in the cold blackness, on a mound of muck at the base of a back eddy, raking in and devouring anything presented by the invisible currents. It is an entirely amoral place down there, an alien, atavistic world. Of course, I wasn’t thinking of these things while the men talked to my father in Grampa’s yard.

They were great dark shapes, with deep rumbling voices, standing around my father as I held his leg. I could feel tension scarcely held in check by the sounds. It gripped them all. Young as I was, I could feel remember my father’s leg flexing as they talked. I may not have understood it, but my body responded with flexing of its own. A woman had disappeared from the village. She was my playmate’s mother, but I didn’t know that. The men had their dogs with them, and, from the way things worked out, they probably wanted my father to bring ours. Of course, my father agreed.

Looking back, there seemed little choice for any of them except to bring their dogs. What else could they do?

There is an interlude in which we were running. I often didn’t see the things that hit my face or body. My father, running flat out for much of it, carried me in his arms while trying to protect me. Sometimes he put me down, letting me run for a bit, then picked me back up. I probably held them up too much. I could hear the wind rushing into my father’s chest as he and the men around us put out. . . hard. Looking back, there was a sense of emergency and fear. A cycle of run, stop, then start running again had begun. It continued for a long time. I can remember hearing the gasping and panting when we stopped. The men bent over with their hands on their knees. The dogs were circling us, barking excitedly. Eventually calming down, they sat panting with their tongues hanging out. At one point, we started up, and the dogs began milling around. They quickened, and we changed direction, going faster as the pressure on us increased.

We had been following the flume Grampa had built into the mountains for water, but we were now following closer to the creek as it went down toward the river. I could hear the water moving over the rocks, and I remember seeing the place near the creek where the First Nations women left me fish roe wrapped in leaves after cleaning salmon. Then, everything changed again. The men stopped pushing so hard. They became tentative.

Perhaps they were starting to accept what they feared. I’ll never know, but whatever was going on was still powerful.

Looking back, I feel a sense of inevitability. Perhaps I am manufacturing the feeling, but it is natural to me nevertheless and will remain so. I can remember the shock when we arrived. There was silence.

We must have been going much of the night before we reached the river. How else could I remember the light being the silvery light of dawn?

Before us was a trail of footprints in the sand. The light outlined the edges of those prints and drove opaque shadows into their depths. They had a terrible finality to them as they went to the bank of the river, stopping and not coming back. What had happened was irrevocable, undeniable. Confirming all our fears, they demanded our acceptance. The men stood and smoked, saying nothing while looking at those tracks, and I watched them. The dogs sat and panted, staying with the men, not following the tracks to the bank.

It was the first time I sensed something happened to women those grown men didn’t understand. It scared them, and I felt their fear. Somehow my young boy’s mind knew the words ‘change of life,’ I believed this made her crazy and caused her to drown herself in the river. I can’t tell you how I knew this, but I did. It’s possible I heard the men saying it at the river that morning and filled in the blanks later on. Or maybe I heard other adults talking. I can’t remember. Years later, I asked both my parents about the death, and they confirmed that people believed the change to be the cause. So, my playmate’s mother exists alone in my young boy’s mind, without understanding or help.


You come back to me from your journey, my friend’s mother, a sister in a primeval place. And sometimes tears spring to my eyes. You come alone during quiet times. I can see your body turning slowly in the currents. You are wrapped in the chill and darkness of the river’s waters. It is like a ballerina’s slow, powerful dance, light but inevitable, even wild at times. Occasionally, you put a pale spot on the surface of the water as your body turns against the terrible darkness below. I grieve how you left and for the interruption of your journey at the bridge many miles downstream.

For two weeks, you had travelled in the dark driven by the currents through the twists in the river’s course. Perhaps your journey continued despite the bridge. But I could not follow you, and vestiges of my fear are still there to be re-awakened.

ISBN : 9781778103612
ISBN: 9781778103612, 9781778103605
Tags:, , , ,
Page Length: 186
Weight 280 g
Dimensions 229 × 152 × 8 mm

Ebook, PB


ePub, PB, pdf

Customer Reviews

1-5 of 5 reviews

  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    Fred Madryga has been my friend, mentor and hunting partner for many years. He has been many things in his lifetime, including a psychologist, a college instructor, and a brain researcher. During his earlier life, he worked on jobs as diverse as running a roofing kettle and tin bashing. He also worked for several years on the west coast near the end of the high lead logging era. After that he returned to school to complete a Ph.D.
    Fred has always been an explorer, both in areas of study and his own development. He has often shared with me the idea of life review as a part of creative aging. I have some sense that this collection of stories represents his honest and very personal representation of part of that process.

    There is a unique variety of stories in Fred’s book. He shared many of them with me while we were sitting around a fire in a hunting camp. Or, he told them to me while driving to the drone of a pickup truck on a northern hunting trip. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I did, knowing as I do, the exceptional life these vignettes are a part of.

    – Stephen Burles

    July 13, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    Awesome read. These are splendid stories that I have loved reading. I cannot wait to read the rest. I highly suggest this book to everyone.
    – Genevieve Johnson, Goodreads

    October 6, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    LOVE it! The author has such a dazzling way of keeping you engrossed with words.
    – Kathleen Adams, Goodreads

    October 6, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    I was very impressed. I loved the accurate portrayal of relationships and the characters that felt very real.
    – Kristopher Council, Goodreads

    October 6, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    Unquestionably dazzling stories! Couldn’t put this book down from start to finish! Unexpected twists and turns throughout which will keep you hooked!
    – Faye Rodriguez, Goodreads

    October 6, 2023

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