Broken roads

Ed Smith
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“Bless the broken road.”

We had two beautiful and meaningful celebrations in our town last Saturday. I should point out here that several people have complained that this column is getting too much involved with the “beautiful and meaningful” these days, and should be concentrating more on making people grin and bear it.

You know, talk about more slightly off-colour situations. Use a little more “street language.” Pee off the church hierarchies by making them look foolish — doesn’t matter which ones. Attacking governments is good. Mild blasphemy is even better.

I get paid to write a general interest humour column, not get involved in the nastiness of life. Of course, life’s little nasties are always more entertaining than anything else, and frequently much funnier. However, you’ll have to wait until next week, assuming I’m still here on this page and still getting paid.

His honour John Crosbie remarked a few weeks ago that he noticed I was still writing. I felt the need to respond to that with something not exactly flippant, but nevertheless indicative of my cool attitude.

“Yes,” I said, “they keep paying me so I have to keep doing it.”

I should have known he’d have an appropriate response to that.

“The English writer Samuel Johnson,” he replied, “once said that any person who wrote was either a bloody fool or getting paid for it.”

I felt good about that because obviously he was inferring I was not a bloody fool. When I had a chance to think further about it, however, I wasn’t sure he was complimenting me.

The two occasions to which I refer were the weddings of two friends, neither of whom has given me permission to talk about them. This means they are reading it here for the first time, and it means I have to apologize to them right now. I don’t think either of them reads this on a regular basis. Anyway, one of the principles of my life is that it is better to ask forgiveness than permission.

Consider forgiveness asked and hopefully given.

The first such celebration was the marriage of my good friend and secretary for nine years. Her first husband died of cancer almost three years ago and, as someone remarked at the wedding, the light went out of her eyes. I could add that the lightness went out of her step and the smile from her personality.

Her first husband and his brother did the renovations and built the extension to our house after my accident so that I’d have room to come and go and wheel freely. Other Half was the architect on the job, and he interpreted her wishes beautifully.

He gave us every possible break financially and even encouraged my friends, of whom there were many, to work on the house with them, thus cutting down on his job profit.

He was a good fellow and we all understood her grief when he passed.

And then, lo and behold! This young fellow whom she had dated in high school turned up once again in her life and almost immediately those of us who saw her on a regular basis noticed a remarkable change. The twinkle came back to her eyes and the lightness to her step. The personality we had missed was there again, and most remarkable of all?

We started making jokes with her about it. You know the hurt is on the way out when the laughter is on the way in. I simply pointed out to her that after nine years of working closely with her and experiencing the same office parties, I might have a story or two to tell her new boyfriend.

Before too long, the inevitable happened and again I suggested I’d like to have some time at the microphone at her wedding. I don’t know how sure she was that I wouldn’t do it. Thing is, I could have showed her husband 8 x 10 glossies of some hooker making the rounds and told him it was her and it would not have bothered him a bit. Ah love!

He lost his wife not much longer ago than she had lost her husband, and looks to be the same salt-of-the-earth-type person. It was beautiful to see two families come together with such joy.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard such an appropriate song as my friend’s oldest daughter so beautifully performed at the wedding. The last line was, “Bless the broken road that led me straight to you.”

Both of them have known the road of life to have its breaks and heartaches.

The second celebration was that of someone I have admired down through the years for her strength of character, her gift of music and her beautiful personality. I was also a friend and colleague for several years of her husband, who worked in a different denominational school system and who died some 12 years ago. I heard her say not more than a few months ago that she still missed him terribly.

And then suddenly there was someone in her life who made her radiate her joie de vivre as strongly as it had ever been.

He, too, has mended the brokenness and made this lady whole again. How beautiful is that, you?!

They were married by her son, a pastor with a great mind and an even greater sense of humour. When the time came to kiss the bride, his admonition to the groom brought the house down.

“Now you may briefly, ever so briefly, kiss the bride.”

Then he turned his back while the happy couple kissed — briefly.

I was struck this past week by the promise that out of the brokenness of life can come wholeness and out of deep sorrow even deeper joy.

And that, my dears, is the sermon for today.


Ed Smith is an author who lives

in Springdale.  His email address is



Geographic location: Springdale

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Recent comments

  • Kay Bradley
    July 14, 2012 - 13:08

    This is a beautifully written column and a wonderful tribute to the two brides.