October 2012


Passing through Virginia recently, we came near the towns of Lynchburg and Danville between which the ill-fated “Old 97” had its legendary train wreck. Ever since, lines of the song have been running through my head.  Among them, “Never speak harsh words to your true lovin’  husband; he may leave you and never return.”

Flash home to Alberta and more recent events. As almost everyone knows by now, there was a terrible wreck in St. Paul when a vehicle careened off the road and through a window into a grade six classroom in a nearby school. At the time of this writing, one of the injured students has died. What a tragedy! I used to teach grade six, my favourite grade. They were so full of promise, so much fun, full of deviltry one moment, angelic the next.

I can scarcely imagine the shock for these parents. They didn’t send this child off bungee jumping or bull riding. She was in school , sitting at her desk. What could possible happen to her there? A friend of mine insists that “when it’s your time, it’s your time” and that no amount of taking care will change it. Incidents like this certainly give credence to that idea.

So, this is where we get back to the title of this piece. “Never speak harsh words…”  Was this little girl sent off to school with love from her family? Will the last conversation she had with her mom or dad always be remembered as a happy one? I hope so.

There are no guarantees in life. We have “the now.” How we use it is our choice. How many families do you know who have a long-standing feud of some sort among them? Often what started it is so small it is almost forgotten, yet the bitterness hangs on. How many couples shout angry words at one another as one or both go out the door? How many teenagers spit out the words, “I hate you!” when they clash with their parents?

Words are powerful things.  Like many other powerful things they can do great good or terrible harm.  Think about your words. If there are unresolved issues between you and your friends or family, you have ” the now”  to say the words that can heal the wounds. It doesn’t matter who is wrong and who is right. Just think about the “Old 97” and all of life’s other wrecks. We need to do our best to clear the tracks of all the emotional debris we have been allowing to pile up there.

All aboard!

©2012 Marilyn Halvorson

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