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My how the time really does fly

I have never been much of a crier.

As a teenager I remember sitting on the front hall steps in my grandparent’s house, watching relatives console one another the day after my granddaddy died.

I remember watching my mother cry in the arms of my grandmother and wondering why it was that I didn’t feel the same visible grief like other relatives did.

Since then there have been only a handful of occasions when I have really cried. I have shed a few tears in the movie theater, but the moments when I really have been genuinely overcome with emotion — whether it be happy or sad — have always caught me unaware.

When my other grandfather died, the confusing teenage years had long passed. As an adult, I assumed I would handle death in much the same way as before. And I did, up until the very last hymn at his funeral. For whatever reason, the tears flowed.

I don’t know how it happened. Whether it was the memories, the moment or the combination of both that “turned the spigot on” as my granny used to say.

Tuesday June 5 marked my son’s third birthday. For Natchezians, that day was election day. As candidates were out waving signs and voters trickled into the polls, my son was trying to learn how to keep his pinky finger down so that he could show everyone how old he was. For several days, he was still holding up two fingers, all the while insisting that he was holding up three.

A few weeks before his birthday, my wife and I decided to take a look back to those early days when Gibson was just a tiny baby.

Instead of pulling out picture albums like the ones my parents stored on the top shelf in the hallway, I reached for my computer to sign into my Facebook account. With a few taps of the finger, I located those images I posted three years ago. As each image scrolled by with a flick of the finger the memories of those early days, flooded back.

Photographs from the hospital, images of my wife and me sleepwalking through the first six months of Gibson’s life, even a few artsy photos that looked like they may have come from a professional studio — they were all there.

They were only a thousand days old, yet they seemed so ancient.

I am not sure who started, but it wasn’t long before both my wife and I were wiping away tears from our blurry eyes. The spigot had turned back on.

Why we were crying, just looking at old photographs, I am not sure.

Was it because we couldn’t believe we ever survived those days with the responsibility of taking care of such a tiny helpless being when we too felt helpless?

Or was it because we wondered how that tiny little baby suddenly sprouted into the toddler who can be both exhausting and exhilarating at the same time?

Looking at the photos and my wife, I realized how fleeting life really is — I thought about all of the pictures I didn’t take or moments I didn’t share thinking that the time would last forever. That realization made the photos we did have seem all the more important.

As many have said, the days are long but the years pass by so fast. It isn’t until you take the time, sit down and look back into the past that you understand what those words truly mean.

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers who have watched their children grow up way too fast.


Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.