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Commentary: Memories

Suzan Nash - April 2022.jpg
Suzan Nash

A few weeks back, I was watching Sunday Morning on CBS with Sandra Bullock being interviewed. She was talking about her children, her work and her latest projects. She indicated that she was planning on taking a hiatus from her present career in films. The interviewer asked her what she planned to do then as her next project and she stated very quickly “clean the basement!”. I thought to myself ‘this is a woman after my own heart’ since that was a project I had been planning on undertaking having postponed it for several years. You see, my husband Tim and I were only children and as such we were the sole recipients of everything that belonged to our parents when they died. We had a tendency of putting everything in a very large back basement room that we rarely go in to. One day when our son Max was home and happened in to that room, he stated quite emphatically that maybe it was time for us to start going through things. So, the process began with winter being the perfect time for this undertaking.

On one of the days when I was sorting, I came across several photo albums that had belonged to my parents. I put them aside temporarily until one very cold, snowy day when I decided it would be a perfect day to go through these albums. As I looked through the photos, many from the 1930s and 1940s, I was struck by several things. First of all, there were many photos of persons that naturally, I had no clue who they were and realized there was no use in keeping them. I also found photos of many provinces and places in Canada that my parents had lived as my dad had been a test pilot and had flown Ferry Command carrying cargo over to England during WW2.

But my most profound realization was that my parents never really talked much about any of their travels, adventures, or challenges. And of course, I didn’t necessarily think to ask questions for whatever reason a young person decides not to. So, I felt saddened that there was so much that could have been shared but wasn’t. It was memories both happy and heartbreaking that were lost because of an unwillingness to divulge or to ask.

This brings me to several points. We’ve all had challenges in our lives in addition to wonderful experiences; some of which we may or may not wish to share with our children, siblings or loved ones. But it might be a much better journey if we do share, both for the recipient of the memory and for the one who is sharing it. I would rather have asked questions of my dad flying all over Canada and my mom working in a variety of cities from Alberta to Nova Scotia as they moved about. This would have given me a better perspective rather than me sitting there wondering in 2022. So, for this, I say get out those old photos. Share them with your loved ones. Help give them perspective on the life that you have lived.

And while I am on memories, I would be remiss if I did not ask, with a very deep sadness, what kind of memories are the people of Ukraine going to be left with? The horror of this war for a country against a nation of people only wanting to live in peace is beyond horrific. We thought this type of slaughter and aggression could not possibly happen again after what happened with WW2 and yet, here we are. Every morning and every night as we listen to and watch the news, we are beyond despair as we see this tragedy unfolding before us. We were hopeful that we were rid of despots like this but to no avail. There continues to be those who perpetrate evil for their own wicked beliefs, benefits and pursuits. When will this end?

And again, my thoughts continue to revolve around those in so many countries that have experienced the atrocities of war and dictatorships at the hands of those who are the very manifestations of evil. What kind of memories will the innocents have? Will they ever find joy and be able to live in peace? Let us hope that in some way, we can be the instruments of peace.

Suzan Nash is the retired Executive Director of the Western Illinois Regional Council.

The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Western Illinois University or Tri States Public Radio.

Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.