THERE THEY ARE, a young couple beaming at the camera, with a somewhat more serious toddler sitting between them. Even after 85 years since the photograph was taken, the joy of this young family radiates through. The young couple are my grandparents, and between them, my then toddler mother.
But that is only half the story. Only a few months before, their four-year-old son died of German Measles (Rubella). Now uncommon, in 1936 there was no vaccine and Rubella could be deadly. Not only their son died, but another four-year-old in their village died as well.
The other half of the story is that, while the photograph was taken, my grandparents would have still been grieving the loss of their young son. They grieved the loss of their son, but had joy in their daughter.
Even in times of sorrow, there can be joy.
This week especially, COVID has seemed to be a heavy burden for so many of us. A year in, and still people are still getting ill, and some are dying. A year in, and we’re back to shutting down some businesses. A year in, and anti-mask protesters sound angrier and more strident every day.
The variants of COVID are getting stronger and deadlier. The vaccines are being questioned. The vaccine rollouts keep getting delayed. Everyone is getting frustrated.
Looking at the photograph of my grandparents gives me pause.
Sorrow and joy can exist together.
However difficult things are now because of COVID, there are things to be joyful for.
Over the last year, we’ve had to change what we do, who we see, where we go. Some have lost loved ones. Others are out of work. But joy can still be found.
On a simple note, I’ve taken to playing crib with my father over the last year. He is a very good crib player. A year ago, he beat me every game. Now, a year in, I can best him at least half the time. A small joy, but a joy none the less, for the time we spend together.
On a broader note, news services reported yesterday that Canada was ranked No. 1 country in the world by the 2021 Best Countries Report. A strong job market, concerns for human rights, and lack of corruption were some of the factors that put Canada above the other 77 countries surveyed.
As difficult as the last year is, as a country, we have much to be joyful for.
COVID has been difficult, and for some even more so. But looking at the photograph of my then young grandparents sitting with my mother, I’m reminded that no matter how difficult things are, there is joy to be found. Even in times of sorrow, there is joy.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.