For those who follow my column I feel the need to lead this week’s submission with an apology.
During the course of this past month I have found myself pondering once again at the fact that so many young people in my life are, well, growing up. It’s a topic I know I have covered in the past, yet somehow it continues to catch me off guard.
Simply put, these were my surrogate kids before I had children of my own.
Children I once watched shake their booty’s to Britney Spears are now in college and corresponding with me as responsible young women. Young men who once carried boxes of Relay Gear to help a pregnant lady are now addressing their colleges on how Relay for Life has affected their lives. And young girls I once bent in half to hug are now applying for scholarships and discussing college choices.
It happens … we all grow up. Perhaps because I still feel 24 myself (on a good day), it still blows my mind over how quickly these young people are becoming young adults. But with that said, it also makes me incredibly proud.
Early on in my adult life I embraced a notion of living a life that would touch others. I did not know how, when or even why I would do this. Something in me just felt that if the day I passed, someone stepped forward and shared how knowing me had made something better for them — well that would equate to a life well lived.
Personally speaking my life has been touched or changed by many. When it comes to others and relationships I am a sponge. Always listening, learning and well … loving.
Life is never perfect, yet each day I try and reflect upon all that is right with my life and celebrate. But … I digress.
Earlier this month a dear friend sent me an e-mail inviting me to join her family as her daughter participated in Oakdale’s Annual ‘Junior Miss’ Distinguished Young Women Program. Her daughter had asked her to extend the invitation and to say I was gobsmacked and honored would be an understatement.
Oakdale’s ‘Junior Miss’ was my first job assignment here at the Leader nine years ago. Ironically, prior to this invitation my Editor and I had already discussed the appropriateness of reassigning it to our Education Reporter (it is after all a scholarship program).
So when the invitation found its way to me, I quickly hit reply and typed an emphatic, “I would be honored!”
Later my girlfriend and I discussed the excitement of the occasion and how this was sort of a ‘full-circle’ moment for me. When I first came to know this mother and daughter duo, the daughter was my son’s age now. She was six years old, eyes bright and ready to take on the world. Now, she is our babysitter.
I’m still unsure of when she became this license toting, responsible young woman. Truthfully it makes me proud and sad at the same time.
Knowing these amazing young people has brought me many benefits. As they have grown, I am proud to not only share that I know them … but that I ‘knew them when.’ Having them still present in my life, also reminds me to be present in every moment I share with my children. We blink and they are asking for money so they can eat with their friends on minimum days.
So what does all this mean, really?
The message here is simple: Remember to breathe as you are living, don’t wish away your days and find some pleasure in every moment. We can’t ever regain time, but we may always be comforted by our memories.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.