Right in the centre - When life seems hard


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

This week’s column leans heavily on words written by two women who wrote very impactful stories about the shortness of life. The first is a poem by Linda Ellis, the second is a “letter home” by Elizabeth Ferguson who was writing from Palestine (later named Gladstone) in 1873 to her brother and sister in Scotland. The letter runs un-edited, written in the original fashion.

The poem and letter point out that life can be very short  and there are lessons to be learned from that simple message.


by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.

He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars… the house… the cash.

What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.

To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile… remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?

Palistine, July 1, 1873

It is exactly 12 months today since I left my native shore and I had a long journey before me as I was 6 weeks on the road so I was very glad when I landed at my journeys end but I got on all right. I was always in good health, I never was sick on sea I stood it better than anyone in steerage, but I had more need to be well than some of  them I had my dear little boy to look after, so you see the Lord afflicted and the Lord he helped me be blessed his name. He had many a sore day of trouble but they are vanquished now, and we trust he is happy with the Lord beyond the search of woe. He died on the 15 of July, the day after we landed at Quebec City. We were taken to the Hospital for the sick, it is a beautiful place the Cemetery where he was buried, it is just like Spittlehaugh flower garden with all kinds of flowers growing around and I hope his young soul shall be like the flowers blooming in the paradise above. Tell all his cousins to be good boys to their mothers, for they know not how they may be as he.

Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer president of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.