Phil Was a Schedule-Clearing Parent … Are You?


In September 2018, Memphis suffered the shock of a horrible, senseless crime. Phil Trenary, who was president of the Memphis Chamber at the time, was shot and killed while walking from an event downtown early one evening.

That night, I was dozing off in bed while my husband watched the news—a normal thing in our house—when he suddenly shook my arm and jarred me awake. “I think Phil Trenary was shot,” he said to me. “I think he’s dead.”

What? That can’t be. That’s crazy.

I watched in horror as the news reporters tried to piece together what had happened. And then I immediately jumped on the phone with several of my former colleagues. We all just couldn’t comprehend what had happened.

Phil was my CEO when I worked at Pinnacle Airlines. Not only did we have an amazing working relationship, but I was also proud to call him my friend. I was not alone in this blessing. And that is why I wasn’t surprised to see the outpouring of love on social media following the news of his murder. And that is why I wasn’t surprised to see so many people come to his memorial service to pay their respects. And that is why I wasn’t surprised to hear story after story from his friends and family members about what an incredible person he was.

It was certainly an emotional moment at the memorial service when his children each took a turn to speak about him. One story told by his son, Pearce, has really stuck with me. I’ve thought about it almost daily in the months since the service. And giving birth to my second son only days after we all gathered to celebrate Phil had me hyper-sensitive to all things parenting-related. Since I think we could all benefit and learn from Pearce’s story, I share it here with the family’s permission.

Near the time of Phil’s death, his son Pearce had scheduled a visit to Memphis to hang out with his dad. Of course, once this awful incident occurred, his trip here turned out to be a little different than he had planned. Pearce told the story of helping to pack up his dad’s office. While doing so, he was struck by Phil’s desk calendar and what had been written there. As one might guess, Phil was a busy man—meeting after meeting, event after event. But on the week that Pearce was supposed to be in town, everything had been cancelled, and above that week on Phil’s calendar was written one simple word: “Pearce.”

Memphis Moms Blog Phil and Pearce
Phil Trenary and son, Pearce.

I thought this was simply the most  beautiful father-son story I had ever heard. Yes, we would all hope that every parent would clear his or her schedule when a child was in town to visit; but, let’s be honest, that’s not always the case. It was clear where Phil’s priorities were. And I think the most remarkable part of the story was how it made Pearce feel. Phil’s clearing of his schedule meant something to Pearce. He was to be the focus of Phil’s week. And Pearce noticed.

Therein lies a great parenting lesson. When we clear our schedules for our children, they notice. When we shift our priorities to ensure they have what they need, they notice. When we put them first, they notice.

After I heard that story, I kept thinking to myself, “I want to be a schedule-clearing parent.” When one of my sons needs me, I want to drop everything to help them. I want to be there for them in the good times, the bad times and the everyday times. And, most importantly, I want them to know if they need all of my attention at any given moment for whatever reason, they have it.

My husband and I are lucky to have mothers who will clear their schedules for us. We notice it, and I know their grandchildren will too. After all, spending time with the ones you love is worth more than anything else in the world. And while Pearce didn’t get to spend that particular week on the calendar with his dad, I’m sure there were already many years’ worth of beautiful memories created together.

So, please ask yourself: are you spending enough quality time with your children? With your parents? With your spouse? Even with your friends? What and who are you clearing your schedule for? And is that the legacy and the memory you want to leave when you are gone? It’s all right there in the days, the weeks, and the months—what story does your calendar tell?

Just something to think about…thanks to Pearce’s touching story about his dad, and my friend, Phil.

Memphis Moms Blog Cara and Phil
The author, Cara, and Phil Trenary.
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Cara is a freelance journalist and strategic communications consultant living in Germantown. Born in Illinois, she moved to Memphis at a young age; and, having moved away a few times for college, graduate school, and other adventures, she likes to joke that she’s moved TO Memphis more times than anyone she knows. Mom to the cutest little boys, Everett (March 2017) and Gavin (October 2018), and wife to Rob, who works as a financial planner, Cara is adjusting to her new gig as a stay-at-home mom after almost 20 years as a magazine editor and corporate communications practitioner. When not “momming” or consulting, Cara spends her time volunteering with the Junior League of Memphis, where she served on the Board of Directors for several years. Admittedly, Cara has an unreal obsession with escape rooms, an unhealthy addiction to Frappuccinos, and an uncontrollable desire to correct every grammar and punctuation mistake she sees. Learn more about Cara at