August 20, 2021


Although I had seven nephews (half-nephews, to be precise; all on the Eaves side of the family), I only had two nieces (half-nieces; one the daughter of Arley’s middle son Pat Eaves, and the other the daughter of Harriett’s son Glenn Hurst).  The top photo shows Patsy with her dad Pat sitting in our sunroom on Eaves Street.  She was just 11 months younger than I was.  The bottom photos are school photos of Emily Hurst.  She was 9 in the one on the left; that was one year after her dad died.  She was 11 in the one on the right, and already looking very grown up.

I was 13 when Emily was born— more like a big sister or a cool teenage aunt to her.

Both Patsy and Emily were only children of their family, and both were “daddy’s girls.” Other than that, their lives couldn’t have been more different.

Emily was devastated when she lost her doting father and she was a troubled and rebellious teenager.  A few weeks before Heather was born, we learned that she (at just 15) had gotten married.  Patsy enjoyed her teenage years in Cookeville and was very popular in high school.  She then went to the University of Tennessee, was a majorette in the band, was named Miss Tennessee and competed in the Miss America pageant (photo below). 

Emily’s struggles continued as she dropped out of high school, divorced and remarried. At 20, she and Kenny had their son Robert (photo above). 

It’s not possible to compare my two nieces.  They were totally different women and grew up under very different circumstances. It’s not true to say that one led a charmed life and the other a tragic life either. They both experienced heartaches and losses, and both overcame great obstacles and achieved some remarkable successes. 

I enjoyed being able to spend more time with each of them after I moved to Nashville as they lived nearby. They both demonstrated courage as they faced serious illnesses.  At the end of their lives, they both experienced peace and love. They are part of my story—my two nieces.

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