Keep Their Memories Alive in Unforgettable Ways

Keep Their Memories Alive in Unforgettable Ways Rachel Donnelly June 14, 2024
Keep Their Memories Alive in Unforgettable Ways

Ah, summer! Those long, lazy days whisk me back to my grandmother’s kitchen in Eastern Tennessee, where the air was fragrant with her legendary cooking and the excitement of impromptu blackberry-picking adventures. My mother, ever the educator, seized every moment to weave Appalachian history into our daily activities.

Our visits weren’t complete without a trip to a favorite local haunt, boasting its very own mill grist. Here, corn was transformed into meal right before our eyes, and if you were feeling adventurous, you could catch your dinner in the pond out back—rainbow trout, freshly caught and cooked to perfection.

Back then, I may have rolled my eyes at these Appalachian history lessons, but today, I hold these stories close to my heart. It’s curious, isn’t it, how the lessons we once shrugged off become the memories we cherish most?

Though my children never had the chance to get to know their grandparents, I’m dedicated to weaving in touches of their grandparents in unexpected ways. Next week, my daughter will immerse herself in an Appalachian folk camp in North Carolina, exploring the arts of blacksmithing, quilting, woodworking, weaving, and dulcimer strumming. My mother, a lifelong learner, would have been thrilled to join her. While she can’t be there in person, her spirit is interwoven with every laugh and lesson, a silent guide on my daughter’s creative journey.

If you’re looking for your own unique ways to keep memories alive this summer, consider these ideas:

  • Recreate a cherished summer trip or vacation you enjoyed together.
  • Whip up their favorite summer recipe for a taste of nostalgia.
  • Plant a garden inspired by your loved one, featuring their favorite flowers or plants. It could be a butterfly garden if they loved butterflies, or a herb garden if they enjoyed cooking.
  • Craft a memory map featuring places that were significant to your loved one—like their favorite beach, park, or hiking trail. Visit these places over the summer and add photos and thoughts to the map after each visit.
  • Compile a playlist of songs that remind you of good times with your loved one. Play it during summer drives, or when you’re just relaxing at home.
  • Host an annual cook-off using your loved one’s favorite recipes. Invite friends and family to participate and enjoy the dishes together.
  • Embark on an adventure that your loved one would have enjoyed, such as a hot air balloon ride, a fishing trip, or a road trip to a place they always wanted to visit.

As we revel in the warmth of this sunny season, let’s take a moment to celebrate the inventive and sometimes whimsical ways we keep our loved ones’ spirits alive.