This is the only photo I have of the young Arley Eaves. I wonder if this was how he looked when he and his first wife Alta Burger got married. By the time he and my mother married, he had white hair and two grandsons. And that Arley was the one I knew and loved.
Life was never easy for him. He said his mother told him he was so tiny when he was born that his head could fit in a sugar bowl. His mother died when he was ten and his father struggled to support him and his little sister Pearl. His formal education was cut short after third grade as he often moved around to stay with relatives while his father worked on the railroad.
This photo of Arley enjoying a picnic with some friends from work reminds me of his generous and supportive heart for others. When he was in a leadership role, he respected the dignity of everyone who worked with or for him and offered any assistance they or their family needed. “He would give you the shirt off his back” was a familiar proverb in East Tennessee—and one that Arley literally carried out at least on one occasion. I don’t recall the specific circumstances, but he came home from work one day in his undershirt. His explanation was that an acquaintance stopped by his office that afternoon on his way to a job interview. Noticing that the man’s shirt was somewhat the worse for wear, Arley took off his own shirt and insisted the man wear it to his interview. Many times he emptied his pockets of cash (which he always carried) to someone running behind on bills or unable to buy groceries. Shirts, cash, things—those were dispensable. Arley valued people, everyone who crossed his path in the course of a day.
This photo of me with baby Ezra at the Montreat park doesn’t give many clues about the delightful personality he is already developing. His twin brothers Sam and Eli were already five years old when he was born and it didn’t take long for them to start teaching this little fellow all the wonderful things they had already discovered. And he quickly let it be known that he intended to keep up with them in every way he could! A formula for success if ever there was one.
Visiting for his fifth birthday, I told him to pick out flowers at the Saturday morning tailgate market in Black Mountain. He didn’t hesitate at all—and composed a colorful bunch of his favorites. The boy loves to celebrate life!
When he was four, he was already challenging his brothers at chess. He announced that he did NOT want to be called “cute”—no matter that he absolutely was cute. He loved growing things and spent several seasons happily gardening with his mom—and enjoying the fruit of their labors.
He’s passionate about animals—especially their two cats Percy and Zoe as well as the tropical fish in his aquarium. He constantly sketches marine animals and is a walking encyclopedia on them. Ezra’s a voracious reader, and devours whole series of books from the library.
An honor student in the 4th grade at his Clinton, MS school, he enjoys every day of “in person” classes, even when masked. This photo of Ezra doing school fitness exercises was in a recent e-newsletter to parents. He’s disappointed when there are school holidays!
We love Ezra’s commentary on daily life, his artwork and independent thinking. And we still can’t say this boy is “cute!”
There are always so many adorable photos of the little “grands” and sometimes a couple of old favorites hit my inbox at the same time. As with these two photos—likely made during the same fall—with no apparent connection. But now I’m struck by the little red hats or caps on all three cuties.
The photo of Charlotte determinedly plodding along in her white coat and red hat all while keeping an eye on her feet. Walking in the woods on unfamiliar terrain still took some concentration, so she gave it all she had. I relate to this experience more each year, as I’m usually looking down also to be sure I’m not going to trip and fall on some unexpected obstacle. Now in the 9th grade, the tall and confident Charlotte now keeps her eyes straight ahead. A few weeks ago when I took her out for a cheeseburger at Hugh Baby’s, I noticed that she paused each time I stepped off a curb. She’s keeping an eye out for me now!
The photo of Eli and Sam was one of Julia’s Halloween costume inspirations—when they were dressed as Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. And those little red caps really give the costume a special pop! Who could ever resist giving treats to these two? They are now 16 and pushing on toward six feet tall. And although they still have a strong resemblance, they’re now much more definitely their own unique selves. They share many interests and also each has specialty fields. They love spending time together and with younger brother Ezra and are also meeting new friends at school and church. They are still irresistible!
Maybe I should get all of them new red hats for Christmas this year. Just kidding! These photo memories are all I need.
The Thanksgiving after Heather and Patrick, with a group of his friends from seminary (including Julia), had enjoyed a trip to Italy, Heather was inspired to create an Italian style Thanksgiving feast. She invited Patrick and Dave to drive up from Orlando for the weekend, and I drove over from South Carolina. She invited a group of her Nashville friends and Tracy brought a couple who were just moving to Nashville. She’d gone to high school with Chris. Heather’s former boyfriend Eric also came, and that was the day he met another friend of Heather’s named Helen (who eventually married Eric). This photo shows one table of guests, with another one behind it.
One source of inspiration was the hospitality they enjoyed with an Italian family on that trip. Dave had met this family when he took some volleyball teams to play in Italy, and they had stayed in an apartment the family owned. When he told them about the seminary group’s upcoming trip, they insisted they stay in the apartment while there. Heather was amazed that the wife cooked such delicious and bountiful meals for them in her tiny kitchen. They spent hours with the family at their table enjoying several courses and great conversations. The couple and their son and daughter are seen in the photo below.
Heather’s Italian feast brought together another diverse group to savor the meal, wine and conversation—and to forge new connections and friendships. Dave, Patrick and I stayed at Bill and Jane’s home and we enjoyed showing Dave around Nashville and Franklin that weekend. Family traditions are wonderful for holidays, and it is also delightful to create new experiences and include friends old and new.
This photo was taken at an Orlando area coffee shop in the 1990s when Heather and I were visiting with Patrick. These friends of his were also studying theology at Reformed Theological Seminary there. It was a lively conversation about books and classes and faith—over steaming cups of coffee. Always one of my very favorite ways to “spend time.”
For several years before that, I had enjoyed the preaching and teaching of R. C. Sproul who still did some teaching at RTS and also had become a devoted subscriber to Ken Myers’ Mars Hill Audio Journal. Myers especially was a brilliant interviewer and through his monthly tapes I discovered many fascinating authors. Whenever I visited the seminary campus, I spent many happy hours browsing in the campus bookstore and often bought books Patrick recommended. One of those books that remains a favorite of mine is Miroslav Volf’s Exclusion and Embrace.
After our morning conversation at this coffee shop, I remember one of the students Glenn Lucke commenting that he was pleasantly surprised that Patrick’s mom was actually interested in then same topics they were. Some of these people I probably only saw once or twice after this morning together. But the stories of several of them had ongoing connections.
Leigh Anne and Dustin Salter, the married couple at the end of the table, remained dear friends. They had graduated from college at Livingston State in Alabama, where we spent one summer when Heather was one year old. Tom was invited to teach history in summer school there as we transitioned from Mississippi State to the University of South Carolina. They were shocked to learn that! When they were parents of three young children and doing campus ministry in the Greenville, South Carolina area, Dustin was injured in a bike accident. After several months in a coma, he died. With the love and support of their church family in Fort Worth, Texas, Leigh Anne has raised their two wonderful and talented sons and daughter, taught elementary school, and lives a rich life even without her beloved Dustin.
Heather sojourned in Charlottesville for several years where she worked for Ken Myers and later at the university for James Davison Hunter. There she again encountered Glenn, who got his doctorate at UVA.
My life has repeatedly been enriched by books, teachings, and open dialogue with younger people. What a grace conversation is!
Joseph was a friend everyone called on to help with decorating for Christmas! Several friends of his mother’s actually hired him to decorate their homes each year, including putting up and trimming the tree. Fortunately for me, he was available to help when needed with special decorations for parties and my least favorite task of putting the lights on the tree.
He also gave me some lovely ornaments over the years, many of which I still use. But this terracotta nativity scene he gave me was a particular favorite. When we first moved into our Williamsburg West home, the living room and dining room walls were painted pastel peach—and the terracotta blended perfectly. For several Christmases, I displayed the nativity scene on our hearth with candles and greenery behind it.
After I moved to my Nashville home, there isn’t as much space for all the figures. One year I set it up on a chest in the Florida room, and once in the garage den. The past few years I’ve left it carefully packed away in a plastic box in the outside storage building.
On Monday, when I had the storage building demolished, I was delighted to open the box and look at the terracotta nativity figures—three camels, one cow, one sheep, two shepherds, three wise men, Mary and Joseph, one angel and the manager with baby Jesus. I took this photo of it on a table in the garage den today. I’m going to send the picture around to a few people to see if they would enjoy having it. Hopefully, by this Christmas the nativity scene will have a new home!
This photo was taken at our Christmas party in December 2001. Kim and Heather went to Irmo middle school and high school together and were also friends at church. This was our last Christmas at the King George Way house, as I was already working in Nashville. Heather came home from her job in Charlottesville for the holidays. By this time, Kim was a single mom with two little ones, Brandi and Jake. She was preparing to get her certification in elementary education.
By late 2002, I’d bought a home in Nashville and Heather had taken a job at Vanderbilt. Within a few more years, Kim married John Lee and moved to East Tennessee. She loves teaching at Prospect Elementary School! With her children grown, married and now parents themselves, she has a full and busy life. From her social media posts, it’s obvious some things never change. She still delights in spending time with her parents back home on Lake Murray or at the beautiful beaches of South Carolina. She’s always been a huge fan of the official dance of South Carolina, the Shag. Beach music, dancing and boating seem part of her DNA.
When I saw this photo, it suddenly occurred to me that these high school friends in South Carolina are now both teaching in Tennessee! After Charlotte was born, Heather took a brief detour to get her M.Div. at Vanderbilt. She’s a Lecturer in the Department of Human and Organizational Development, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University. This is a popular major for students and her classes are always large.
One thing is certain—these two women teachers delight in their students, offering them academic learning, personal interest and compassion. Their students are very fortunate indeed!
Today was a sunny, crisp morning in Nashville and by 8 o’clock my friend Betsy’s son Wood was beginning a hard day’s work in my back yard—demolishing the rickety old storage building. I spent the day watching, checking on the progress, and sorting through the last few items that had been left there. He finished up about 4 in the afternoon—after doing a great job!
The first photo shows Wood pondering his next step in removing the metal roof. In mid-morning a dumpster was delivered to carry away all the debris and by the end of the day, it was completely full. There was no following the script for demolition—every step of the way, Wood was improvising to adapt to the conditions of the toppling structure. Initially, he tied ropes to either side and attached them to his pick-up truck in the driveway. He moved forward until parts of the structure loosened and he could knock them down safely. I kept reminding him I didn’t have Worker’s Comp coverage!
And finally, it was down! There was much work to be done—cutting everything into smaller pieces, loading everything into the dumpster, and digging up the floor (and finding several mummified animal carcasses trapped underneath). And who knew there was another smaller version of this shed just across the back fence behind it? Now, if they will just tear that down…
There were some small treasures that it was delightful to see again! A few books, old record collections from Juanita’s house, a small cannon ball, decorative plates and baskets, pint jars (inspiring me to make some of Mrs. Isenberg’s relish soon), and a terra cotta nativity scene from South Carolina.
Today showed again the impermanence of things that were once useful, that getting rid of something obsolete opens up possibilities for creating something new, and that very small things can bring surprise and joy.
This family photo was taken one Christmas at Easy and Mildred’s longtime home in Ashland, Kentucky. Buzz and Becce are on the left, with Kay and John next. Mildred and Easy are on the right. Buzz’s son Blue is standing next to John, with John’s eldest Jesse in front of him. Josh (John’s middle son) is beside Mildred and the youngest Matthew is in front of his mom Kay.
So Easy had two sons—spaced over a decade apart. One of them had one son, the other three sons. No girls in those two generations. But now that trend has been turned upside down!
Blue and his wife Nancy have three children—a daughter Paige and two sons Dwyer and Knox. Jesse and Stephanie have three children—sons Micah and Davis and daughter Madeleine (Maddie). Josh and Sarah have two children—son Parker and daughter Kathleen (Kitty). Matthew and Christina have three daughters—Laine, Emma and Gwen. They live in New York, Illinois, Tennessee and California. Easy’s four grandsons have 11 children altogether—six daughters and five sons. It’s great to see so many Eaves women added to the mix!
Another generational marvel Kay pointed out to me. These 11 children are my father’s great-great-grandchildren. Three of them—Dwyer, Micah and Parker were all born in 2010. That same year my youngest grandson Ezra Connelly—my father’s great-grandson—was also born. This summer he and his cousin Parker enjoyed a cousins’ swim party at the Eaves pool here in Nashville (photo below).
I’d say we have a promising new generation on the scene. Bless them all!
Rocking chairs have always been special to me—from my childhood’s little red rocker to several made when my father was at the Cleveland Chair Company to an antique rocker we bought to rock Heather and later Patrick. One of my favorite “wise sayings” from my grandchildren came from little Eli. I was telling them the Bible story of Mary and Martha. When he heard Martha’s stress over preparing the meal without help from her sister, he said, “I think Martha just needed to sit down and rock awhile.”
The photo above shows Eli, Charlotte and Sam in little red rockers at the charming Red Rocker Inn in Black Mountain, North Carolina. The rambling Victorian house is a Bed and Breakfast Inn and on weekends, the dining room opens to the public for a delicious brunch. When Patrick and family lived in nearby Swannanoa, we enjoyed several Saturday morning feasts there. All the Southern favorites were available at the buffet—meats, eggs, grits, potatoes, gravy, biscuits, and fruit.
I stayed there on one visit when Julia’s parents were also in town. The bed was luxurious with all its pillows and quilts and I had a clawfoot bathtub that was up on a platform! When I went down for breakfast before driving home that Monday, a group of guests from the Midwest invited me to eat at their table. These three couples met there for a week each fall and soon we were laughing and talking like I’d been their friend for years. I felt like I’d sat down to rock awhile—a real respite.
This photo shows the same threesome another time we visited North Carolina. This time they were enjoying really big rocking chairs on the porch of an old building owned by Montreat College. They needed a boost up to get into these chairs but nothing could suppress these cousins’ delight at being together and just rocking on the porch awhile. Eli was right—Martha would probably have relaxed a bit if she had sat down to rock a few minutes.