November 23, 2021

In a wacky family like mine, we’re always trying to figure out who is kin to whom!  It was always terribly confusing to me when I was a child, and now my children and grandchildren often have to check with me to be sure who’s related and how. 

I was especially sad to find out I wasn’t actually related to the Hurst family—as Granny and Aunt Nannie Belle were some of my favorite people.  They always warmly embraced me as their own—so I decided some of your family just aren’t relatives!

My brother Glenn felt left out when he found himself outnumbered by his stepfather’s family—the three Eaves sons and one daughter. And he often shared holiday gatherings with them, where he felt like he didn’t belong. 

Another interesting connection was the Burger family. My father’s first wife was Alta Burger. That meant that all my Eaves siblings were related to the Burgers, but I wasn’t.  I met and knew two of Alta’s sisters—Pearl Mercer and Ide Pierce. Pearl was a widow who lived across the street from our church, and worshipped there. Ide and her husband Fate lived in a small house above the table factory and near the hosiery mill.  There were other Burger children but I only met these two sisters.

The smiling woman in the center of this photo is Aunt Ide’s granddaughter, Yvonne Raper. Her mother Elizabeth and my sister Tootsie were always close, and Yvonne and her brothers were close to the ages of Tootsie’s sons.  Tootsie and Elizabeth were both known as excellent Southern cooks, and Yvonne carries on that tradition.

She’s one of those small town “salt of the earth” people! Never married, she’s cared for her parents and siblings and many others. For many years, she was in charge of the Athens public school cafeterias. She can whip up a mouth-watering meal for six or sixty without batting an eye. She also enjoys preparing fancier fare for receptions or banquets. 

She’s also enjoyed traveling with friends and has been elected several times to serve on the local city council. She is one of the most thoughtful and unselfish people I’ve ever known. She’s family—but not a relative.

She was especially close to Tootsie’s oldest son Jerry and his family.  This photo was taken in Jerry and Marilyn’s kitchen in the 1990s where the Eaves family had gathered for Monte’s funeral.  Yvonne sprang into action to serve everyone a wonderful lunch. After Jerry’s death, she has been the chief advocate for Marilyn. When Marilyn needed to go to assisted living, Yvonne is the one person who visits her regularly, looks out for her house and business affairs, and cooks some of those favorite dishes to remind her of home. It’s true that you don’t have to be related to be family—and Yvonne is the living proof of that.

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