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CHERISHED: Family Memories

Feb 6 2013

by Kate Spears

I’m not one of those folks who thinks things were better in the good ol’ days. Okay, maybe I think that some of the time. But I blame my paternal grandparents for this and I’d like to share why. My whole life, I’ve loved spending time with my grandparents no matter what we happened to be doing.

But my favorite way to pass the time in their company is listening to them tell stories of their teenage years. They spent their formative years in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, a town that sprang to life overnight during WWII as a production site for the famed Manhattan Project. And apparently for them, everything was pretty magical.

Because the government basically created the town, every aspect of life (during the war) was funded by the government too. My grandpa, a talented athlete and high school football star, loves to tell me how every sports team at the high school was outfitted with brand new, top of the line sports equipment. This detail is interesting, but it’s not what keeps me coming back for more.

My favorite stories are about how they met at age 13 and went on their first date, where my grandpa promptly told my grandma he loved her for the first time….she did not share his feelings quite so soon.

I also love hearing my grandma tell of how she accepted an invitation to the prom from another young man because my grandpa was dragging his feet. And he tells of how it made him insanely jealous and would still happily beat up the guy she went with if he saw him today (I should probably mention my grandpa enjoyed getting into fights, especially on my grandma’s behalf). As a child, I’d hear these stories and try to imagine them as these other people…living this exciting teenage life.

But while my grandparents’ young lives was idyllic, they aren’t the only ones with stories worth telling. I think one way we can honor all of our elders is by listening to their stories. It’s definitely a southern thing. It’s like it doesn’t matter that my grandparents aren’t in the best of health or that more recent years have been challenging…when they start telling their stories, they are transported back to a better time and place. And as I hear the stories, I’m lucky to be transported with them.

I’m so fortunate to have spent many years with my grandparents…one of my best friends barely knew his. I want to cherish the time we have together and no matter how busy I am, I want to always make time to stay for one more story.

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Kate Spears View More Blog Posts from this Author

Kate Spears is a self-proclaimed Southern belle who grew up in a tiny town near Nashville, but now calls Knoxville home. She graduated from the University of Tennessee (Big Orange Country!) with an undergraduate degree in art history and a master’s in public relations & advertising. In 2009, she started her blog, Southern Belle Simple, with the simple hope of giving herself a creative outlet. She continues to be amazed each time it leads to a new opportunity and cherishes the relationships that are formed along the way.

Kate is passionate about family history, time-honored traditions, and her Southern heritage. Her people hail from across the South, from the Lone Star State of Texas to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. She grew up spending summers on her great-grandparents’ Tennessee farm where she developed a deep appreciation and admiration for people who could coax beautiful and delicious things out of a mound of dirt. She comes from faithful men, devoted women, hard workers and wickedly good cooks.

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One response on “CHERISHED: Family Memories

  1. whitneylong

    Thanks for sharing this, Kate. Having lost my last surviving grandparent this summer, it really touched me and made me long for one more visit with her. What wonderful stories and memories – especially their adorable courtship – just in time for Valentine’s Day!

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