My Grandpa Budd 

Have you ever had a moment when you felt like no one was there or listening to you? I know I have felt alone before. A few years ago, we lost my Grandmother, it was hard on the whole family, but especially her husband of over 66 years. My Grandpa Budd was not doing well. There was nothing specifically wrong, except old age, but mostly he was dying of a broken heart. One day I was sitting with him on his bed. I was holding his hand and he was talking to me. My mom came into the room and she later told me it was one of the most beautiful things to see. She said that she saw how special and genuine our relationship was. So many times people don’t know what to say to the elderly and feel awkward at times—especially after they’ve lost someone. I knew that I didn’t have to say anything, I was there to listen to his stories. More than eleven years ago I started recording my grandparents story. I remember both he and my grandma would laugh and say, “I don’t know if anyone wants to know all this stuff.” We do—we want to know, we need to know. I learned so much about them through their stories. I feel so grateful that I spent their last eight years learning more about my grandparents.

“The world is shaped by two things-
Stories told, and the memories we leave behind.”
~Vera Nazarian

Katie, Kevin, and Mabel

When I learned about Katie Cheesman and The Listening Ear Project I was so happy. Katie Cheesman is married to her husband Kevin, they have been married 5 years. Together they have a little girl Mabel, who is two and she is 23 weeks pregnant. Katie started as a Hospice Nurse and her love for the elderly grew. Katie has always had a love for this generation, but it grew through her work. She realized that they all have stories to tell, but they don’t always have someone to listen. Katie soon realized that it was more than a job, she had a gift. Katie and her husband spent a year living with and caring for her grandfather before he passed away. She learned so much in the time she spent with him, and it was the spark that really started her on this amazing journey.

Katie and Kevin 

Katie started The Listening Ear Project over a year ago. She goes to homes of elderly, spends time with them and shares their stories and advice through social media. The reason I started this project was to get outside of myself, to stop wasting time on petty things and to focus on what is really important. So, I began. I started spending time with these sweet souls and something in me changed. I was humbled with every visit, and soon my problems seemed minuscule. Almost every person I have interviewed has either lost a child or a spouse. I have met with veterans who have experienced horrific things. I have met those who survived the Great Depression and others who have faced difficult health challenges. To be with someone who shares the most vulnerable parts of their life with me is an honor and has helped me see how blessed I truly am.”

“The greatest art in the world
is the art of storytelling.”
~ Cecil B. DeMille

Katie and her family visiting one of her friends

Katie has learned so much and so many people have impacted her through their stories and experiences. She told me about one in particular that especially stood out to her. “Her name was Sharron and she was an absolute delight. I had never met anyone like her! She was so full of spunk and joy. Her house was completely covered wall-to-wall in watermelon decor, simply because the color red made her happy. After interviewing her, I realized that she didn't have the easiest life, but yet she chose to stay positive. She looked at everything so optimistically and I just admired that about her. It made me want to be like her. That is what I love about these interviews, every person is so unique and special and I always take something away that I want to apply to my life.”

“When our hearts turn to our ancestors,
Something changes inside of us.
We feel part of something greater than
~Russell M. Nelson

Katie's friend Bill

Katie has really been such a force is helping others share stories and be a LISTENING ear. If we can learn anything from Katie’s project she hopes that we can look at how incredible our elders are, they hold so much wisdom that we can learn from them. Also, that they are so valuable to our society, they show us love and forgiveness. By serving them we serve each other. 

I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to see what Katie does. She is such an influence for good. I have learned that telling stories is so important, not only is it part of our own family history, but we know that we can learn from that history. Stories that are passed down several generations can still make a huge impact on others’ lives.  If you want to do your own project like Katie go to and check out their 52 stories. You can start now. 

Katie, Kevin, and Mabel