Watching life move too fast


I never really thought of myself as being the product of a large family until much later in life.

When I was growing up, most knew only of my younger sister, Renee. Maybe an older brother or an older sister. But in reality, I have six brothers and sisters, which is hard to fathom — especially since I didn’t grow up with most of them.

And we only have time to blame for that. My oldest brother, Randy, was already an adult when I was born, and welcomed his first son — my oldest nephew — when I was barely out of the crib.

He and I share our father in common, as do my two other oldest siblings, Christine and Ricky. We never shared a household. By the time I was old enough to remember anything, they were already on their own, starting their own families.

The siblings that I share with my mom, however, were younger, though not by much. Her oldest son, Rich — yes, I have two brothers with the same first name — is nine years older than me. My sister, Lynette, isn’t too far behind. We all did share a home together — that is, until they grew up and moved out, all while Renee and I were still in elementary school.

I sometimes imagine what it would’ve been like if we had all grown up together. Yet I’m glad life turned out the way it did. Growing up with my many nephews and nieces has been a fantastic experience. Seeing them start their own families and find success has been even better.

Not having children of my own, I never had to experience that “empty nest” syndrome I’ve heard so much about. That is, until last weekend, when my youngest niece, Laci, picked up her high school diploma at a rural Pennsylvania school.

I am so proud of my niece and all that she’s accomplished in school. She’s already a certified nurse assistant, and she’ll attend Penn State University in the fall. Her brother, Ryan, is working to establish himself as an electrician. My sister and her husband, Ben, have raised some great kids.

But still, did they all have to grow up so fast? I still have a picture of me holding baby Laci in my arms for the first time some 18 years ago. I still have a picture of a note when she asked, as a very young girl, when “Unkle Mike” was coming to visit.

Laci is smart (graduating with honors), knows what she wants, and for her, the sky’s the limit. But even she will soon experience the same thing all of us have felt — how the older we get, the faster life moves. Where, in one minute, she’s an infant in your arms, and in the next, she’s a young woman ready to start her post-high school life.

It won’t be long before Laci and Ryan have families of their own, and they’ll scratch their heads, wondering how it all went by so quickly.

That’s where living in the moment really becomes valuable. Taking a breath. Pausing everything. Just enjoying what’s in front of us.

God has created a beautiful world, and filled it with so many beautiful things. Don’t wait until so much of life has passed to appreciate it the most.

Michael Hinman is executive editor of Herald Community Newspapers. Comments?