Give Your Family Memories to Keep

The source for the word "family" comes from a Latin word, familia, meaning household. Family also encompasses a number of other definitions including those who share a common ancestry (clan) or a group of people united by common beliefs or affiliation (fellowship, association). For me, and I suspect for each of you, each of these definitions has significance.

Regardless of where we are now, we all had a family that made us what and who we are today. Our values, our sense of self, our sense of belonging. I grew up in a family with four children, two brothers and one sister. My parents, who will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in August of this year, celebrated family and family events. Because my father worked for a large oil company, we moved quite a bit when I was younger. My parents always treated each move as a new adventure, an opportunity to see new things, to make new friends. They also took time to take us on family vacations every summer. We camped in national or state parks from the time I was preschool until I was in my teens. Those memories are cherished, and indelibly imprinted on me a deep and abiding appreciation of nature.

As I grow older, I appreciate the times spent on these trips and the memories fostered by family togetherness.

My family also has wonderful memories of time spent in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Growing up, my husband spent many weekends in the park, and he has excitedly shared early family memories as a boy with younger members of our family. On a rock in the middle of one of the rushing streams, a young couple sat, deciding on the name given to our oldest daughter. At family reunions, excitement has been shared in catching sight of a mother bear and her cub. Later, "old time" pictures were taken in town of our young daughters dressed in period clothes. This park was also the site for a special exclusive father-daughter camping trip with our youngest daughter on a spring break.

Another sense of family is derived from our work places. I have been with my firm for 23 years, and it has provided a sense of belonging, of being needed. Although our firm has grown over the years, it has magically preserved that special sense of connectedness. I look forward to going to work each day. Although we may, and do, have different views, we all still respect one another and support one another. Without my firm's backing, I could not have embarked on this amazing adventure as president of the bar this past year.

Another important sense of belonging derives from one of the other definitions of family " fellowship, association. As lawyers, we share common goals for our profession. We share common stresses, as well, from that profession. There is a definite sense of fellowship and kinship in meeting other lawyers with shared experiences. One of the discussions about a long-distance learning cap for continuing legal education was brought forth by more seasoned attorneys, who urged that on-site learning opportunities provided invaluable face-to-face meetings to foster collegiality and connectedness among members of the bar.

Back in 1993, Justice Gary Wade as a co-founder brought Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park ("Friends of the Smokies") into being. This amazing organization assists the National Park Service in its mission to preserve and protect the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. From time-to-time, funding to support national parks by our federal government has diminished. Friends of the Smokies raises funds and public awareness, provides volunteers for needed projects, and trains friends to assist with projects that benefit this historic park. Over the years, this organization has restored historic buildings in Cades Cove and provided fund partners for restoration projects and ongoing maintenance. Directing its attention to the park and its beautiful assets, Friends of the Smokies has implemented projects to save trees from deadly infestations of insects, returned elk to the Smokies after a 150 year absence, and provided films, science projects and educational programs for visitors. When you and your family visit the Smokies, you will see the visible results of exceptional efforts by the Friends in the trails, picnic tables and preservation of the sheer beauty of this park.

The Tennessee Bar Association will hold its annual convention this year in conjunction with the Tennessee Judicial Conference (TJC) and the Tennessee Attorneys for Justice (TAJ, formerly the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association) in an exceptional setting. In June, all three groups will meet at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains. This is a prime opportunity to take families for a wonderful outing in the Smoky Mountains. While attorneys are obtaining CLE credits, their families can enjoy the park, or the unique festival atmosphere of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, which boast more than 800 shops. Capture those moments that define irreplaceable memories. Allow yourself and your family some precious time together, or swap war stories with your family members of the bar.

Plans for the upcoming meetings in June began last summer. Judge Kelly Thomas, Justice Wade, Wayne Ritchie Jr., and I spent hours excitedly exploring venues for meetings and receptions. Staff members for the TBA, the TJC and the TAJ were also actively in attendance. Judge Chris Craft is putting finishing touches on the ever popular Bench Bar CLE Programs.

We all look forward to seeing you in June " seeing you and your families at our Meeting in the Mountains.