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Time goes by so quickly; enjoy it all

Feeling older as the days go by is just part of adulthood. As we top the middle hump of life and begin heading down the other side, it’s normal to ache a little here and there.

The alternative to growing old isn’t much fun, an older man told me many years go.

But sometimes moments in our lives kind of slap us in the face as reminders of just how quickly time passes.

I’ve had two of those moments over the last couple of months and both related to my daughter Anna.

Just after Christmas an image of her riding down the road on her new, big girl bicycle will forever be etched in my mind.

The image was both thrilling to see her gain a little independence and a new skill, but it also jolted me with the reality that my “little girl” was growing up fast.

I suddenly saw the little girl who has always needed her mother or me charging into her future, without looking back.

One day, she was small enough to carry in one arm without much effort. The next day (it seemed) she was an independent little grown up.

A couple of weeks later and Anna greeted me one evening as I got home after work and announced she planned to read me a book.

We sat down and she did just that.

How on earth can our little baby read, I thought, before realizing, it was another dose of reality.

Last week, Anna turned 6 years old. That almost seems impossible.

It seems like only a few months ago, Julie and I were up all night awaiting our first born to arrive.

We frantically drove in the wee hours of the morning to the emergency room entrance of what was then Natchez Regional Medical Center.

Hours later Dr. Frank Guedon popped his head into the room and said, “Miss Cooper. I think we’re going to have that baby today.”

A few hours later, the wriggly little creature stopped crying for a second, blinked her eyes a few times and started looking at the world around her.

We were clearly hooked from the split second we saw her and she’s been an incredible part of our lives every since.

Indeed she — and every other child — is a blessing from God.

They are blessings that come with much responsibility.

I remember talking with a colleague about parenthood once years ago.

He told me, “The first few years, all you worry about is what they’re eating, when they pooped and whether they’re sick or not.

“If you’re not careful you can miss the fun due to all the worrying over just keeping them alive.”

“Enjoy the moments,” the man said, “But don’t forget that it’s your responsibility to make them into good, responsible people, too.”

The man was wise beyond his years. I can now see that at various times, I’ve almost certainly missed the moment by worrying things that now, six years later, just don’t matter.

I know I won’t have Anna — or her little brother James — forever, but I’m making a commitment to focus more on the moment going forward, even as the images of age keep coming on faster and faster.

The last six years have been a ball. We’ve had amazing times together, and I hope the days ahead — no matter how many or how few — are equally as filled with love, fun and good times.

Happy birthday, Anna. You are loved more than you know, and I’m so very proud to be your father.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.

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