The Leaves Are Falling
Written by Dave Post published in the Cades Cove Cousins Newsletter, March 2005
~Posted with permission Gloria Motter~
For many former residents and their descendants, spring is a special time to visit Cades Cove. Life is emerging. The trees are budding, new grass appears, buttercups sprout at former home places, birds and other animals are scurrying about, some caring for newborn, and the air is crisp and clean. Cades Cove is once again “reborn” after slumbering through another harsh winter. Just as has been experienced for centuries, this beautiful mountain cove is preparing for another year of regeneration and growth.

This rebirth however is notably absent of the farmers who had toiled through the dark winter mending the plow, caring for livestock, safeguarding seed and planning the crops for another growing season. Missing are the gleeful shouts of youngins preparing for another spring of adventure and play, the smoke curling from fireplaces scattered around the Cove, the bark of family hounds, the crack of hunting rifles, the singing at the churches and the clanging of bells as livestock plod to their summer homes on the high mountain balds. No longer can the cry of a newborn Oliver, Shields, Gregory or Tipton baby be heard. Such springtime memories are reserved for those who once called Cades Cove home, and those who can recall and share such memories have long since passed the springtime's of their lives. Like the mighty chestnuts which once ruled the forest canopy, these former residents are disappearing, having lived productive lives and having earned the rewards which motivated them for so long. They have reached the autumn of their lives. The leaves are falling.

Homecoming was observed at the Missionary Baptist Church on July 28, 2002 with a service sponsored by the Cades Cove Preservation Association. This was a mere two and a half years ago. Former residents and immediate descendants of former residents participated to share their memories of Cades Cove and the significance of the Missionary Baptist Church to their lives. Touching comments were provided by eight such individuals who shared their hearts and memories. Those who were privileged to witness heard testimonials of values, home life, anecdotes and beliefs which were previously untold. Now the voices of half of those who participated have been muted, silenced by the inevitable progression of their seasons. Kara Gregory, Bill Post, Calvin Shields and Lee Tipton reached the autumn of their lives and have departed. How prophetic was a comment overheard at the conclusion of that Homecoming service, “this may never happen again”.

                                                  Calvin Shields ~ Ray Gregory ~ Lee Tipton-Obits
The three gentlemen shown are from left, Calvin Shields, Ray Gregory and Lee Tipton. Calvin and Lee were born in the Cove while Ray's father was Lee Gregory, born in the Cove.  Photograph was taken at the Cades Cove Old Timers Day of May 2001. Their images are over a photograph looking down towards Cades Cove taken from Gregory Bald in the winter of 1998

The leaves are falling. We can no more prevent the inevitable decease of our loved ones than we can change the course of the seasons. In truth, for the majority of those who reach the autumn of their lives, it would be a disservice to deprive them of their rewards. They have earned the right to rejoin their Papas, Mamas, life mates, children, family and friends in celebration of the lives and accomplishments enjoyed on earth with those which will be shared eternally with their Maker. They are once again experiencing a springtime.
They have been reborn!

As we remember our loved ones who have left, we should be reminded of our opportunities and even obligations to our descendants, to seize every occasion available to listen, understand, appreciate and document the lives of our ancestors. Once they have departed, we cannot directly explore the circumstances of their lives, former home places, schooling, loves, successes and disappointments. Even the best efforts of preservation will fail to capture the clarity and emotion of their personal recollections. Everyone has a story to tell and that story is important. To a great extent, we function individually as a result of our genetic composition and as shaped by our environment and those values and beliefs which are passed through our bloodlines. Our descendants are enabled, and sometimes burdened, by such considerations. They deserve to know the stories of those who preceded them. We have an obligation to preserve our family heritage before the leaves fall.

Cades Cove ceased as a vibrant community approximately seventy years ago. The Cove babies of that era have reached the autumn of their lives. We are fortunate that the Homecoming Service at the Missionary Baptist Church on July 28, 2002 was recorded so that those brief comments are preserved for generations to come. But how many events, memories and emotions are inadequately preserved? Now that both of my parents are no longer available to guide, discipline and educate me, I have lost the primary resources to address those countless questions I have which were unasked or, if asked, were poorly documented. Valuable facts of my heritage are forever lost. Sadly the leaves have fallen.

                  Help preserve the Cades Cove heritage....the leaves are falling.
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A people who do not honor the deeds of their worthy dead will do nothing worthy of being honored by their descendants. ~Macalay~