Where Does The Time Go?

My 17-year-old nephew, Zac, graduated from high school early. We celebrated in Cancun, Mexico.

Sometimes things work out better than you could expect. A few weeks ago my 17-year-old nephew, Zac, graduated high school early. To celebrate, my sister and her husband booked an all expenses paid trip for four to Cancun, Mexico. Plans fell through for my nephew’s friend and knowing I have a passport and I’m always up for a new adventure, my sister asked if I would go. It was the perfect break I needed to kiss my winter blues away. I had never been to Mexico and figured it was time to finally have the chance to put all those years of high school Spanish to use.

The day had finally arrived and we hit the road bright and early heading to the airport. I was worried my nephew would be bummed he was stuck with his old aunt as a travel companion instead of his high school buddy, but luckily the kid took it in stride.

I can still remember babysitting my nephew when he was just learning to walk. He had the chubbiest little legs and would just laugh and drool while I motioned for him to come towards me. I became nostalgic thinking about where the time had gone. How had 17 years just flown by that fast? How was my adorable bright-eyed little nephew turning into a man before my eyes? We used to be so close. When he was a toddler he couldn’t say “Aunt Melinda.” The only word that would utter from his tiny mouth was “Inny.” The name stuck and that is how I was referred by him, until he turned a teenager. I’m guessing it just wasn’t cool to call his aunt a nickname anymore, but I can still remember the first time he referred to me as “Aunt Melinda” and it was then that I realized my little nephew Zachary was starting to grow up.

The years went by and Zac went on to excel in school and sports. His favorite pastime seemed to be baseball as he played that from his toddler years and continued throughout high school. He was on the All-Star team and Babe Ruth and would land weekly stats in the sports section of the newspaper. I was always so proud, as was the rest of our family, cheering him on from the bleachers at every game. He has always been an overachiever and is proving it once again with his education. He worked hard to take extra courses and obtain his diploma an entire semester earlier than the rest of his classmates. He has plans to join the criminal justice program at JCC in the fall and pursue a career that he knows will make a difference. As nervous as it makes some of the family, I know he will be an amazing police officer as he has proven he will be a fair and moral enforcer of the law. He is kind and always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need, whether it’s a friend who calls him last minute for a ride or an aunt who wants a couch delivered to her upstairs apartment on a rainy day. I give all of this credit to my sister for raising such a strong-willed, decent human being just like herself.

The trip to Mexico was incredible but I will divulge my adventures in the next column and talk about how comical yet creepy it was to be mistaken for being on vacation with my teenage boyfriend. (Eww, I know.) But I thought it was only right to honor the “Man of the Hour” and the entire reason for this excursion to have taken place. Zac will always be my nephew and I will always be proud of anything that he does no matter how cool he gets, even when he feels his 30-something aunt is too lame to hang. I was excited to go on this trip, but I was even more excited to get in some last-minute bonding with my nephew who would soon be out of the house and off on his own. I can only imagine what my sister is feeling seeing her first-born ready to take on the world, but I’m sure she finds comfort in knowing he has the guidance and determination to succeed at anything that comes his way. Whatever Zac becomes doesn’t have to be perfect, but it’ll be amazing.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”