A RED SUITCASE FOR THE AGES by Barbara Torris

The symbolic Red Suitcase used as the name for Dana White’s film became very real for me the first time I learned about it. It could be that my family of pioneers that came to Oregon during the gold rush carried a Red Suitcase. It was hidden among the trunks, visible to only the one that owned it. I suppose that is why I loved the symbolism of the valise that carried all the important things about our lives.

My great-grandparents left Sweden for Oregon wearing the clothes on their back in the 1870’s and my mother’s father left his native Iowa to come and live in a tiny community in Easter Oregon around 1910.

My father’s father was born to one of the first couples married in the Umqua Valley of Oregon. He was a gold miner and renamed himself Thomas Jefferson Boyle at an early age because he admired the founding father. His family had migrated from Tennessee.

In fact, I even had a great aunt that escaped the San Francisco earthquake and fire in 1906 with only her empty Red Suitcase and her life. I always wondered if that valise carried things that none of us but Aunt Kate could see.

I suppose that all of us that have grown up with that pioneer spirit understand better than most that all the material things we surround ourselves with are not very important. Change is bred into us somehow. Reinvention starts each time we make a decision to better ourselves or expand our world of knowledge.

What is within is important all be it ethereal…we don’t leave our life behind and discount the importance of what is lost. Our memories are important. Knowledge that we have acquired through both successes and failures are the foundation for our future. In fact, I really don’t believe that we can change what we are today. The self we are today is the clay we much use to make ourselves better tomorrow.

So when we decide that we need to more on, retire, divorce or are even left alone, we know that change is a fact of life. We pack our Red Suitcase with hope, courage, resilience and strength. We know that not much else will help us in the new life we must build. We remain pioneers even in the 20th century.

Bio: Barbara Torris is a writer at Retire In Style Blog. She is a retired educator that travels through life with her husband and a cat named RV.