PJ's kids and grandkids
PRECIOUS MEMORIES: One of my happiest days I hold onto is reflected in this photo, taken to celebrate the adoption of four new family members in May of 2011.

When life changes, how do we hold onto the dear?

Life is about change, but it’s important to hold onto the things that are closest to your heart.

There’s an old country song that goes “Life’s about changing, nothing ever stays the same.”

It’s a mother, talking to her child about how to accept the inevitable changes that come with growing up, with job changes, with marriage or divorce or aging or death.

I was thinking about that song the other day and realized that no matter how fast I thought my children grew up from precious babies to challenging teens to adults making me proud, my grandchildren are growing up even faster.

I’m one of those incredibly lucky people whose children are right here in the same area with me, so I have been able to travel with them on the journey from children to adults to parents in their own right. I am much like the farm family whose children have all come home to farm, except my kids have been able to stay in the community where they grew up and raise their families close to parents and siblings.

I’ve seen my youngest grow from a shy child who looked at the ground and put her fingers in her mouth when called on to speak in a public setting to a polished public servant giving radio and television interviews to promote the museum where she is executive director.

My precious Chole, my first grandchild, will be turning 17 in March. She’s a high school junior on track to graduate early and be a college freshman in less than year. She is her high school photographer, web site maintainer and tech guru. Wasn’t she just born yesterday? How did this much change happen this fast?

I have been overjoyed that she has been right here in Wichita with me as she grew. I’ve seen her almost every day, and certainly several times a week. I have good reason to believe that she will stay right here for at least her first two years in college at Wichita State University. How fast must this time go for grandparents whose precious babies are hundreds of miles away and only seen a few times a year? At least I have been able to hold onto her as she grew and changed.

Baby Dylan, just a week old in the photo with this column, is now a rambunctious first-grader and video game master.

I think most of us don’t want to accept changes, even those that are inevitable as children grow, learn, marry and have children of their own. Or changes that come slowly, the way the bags of seed or fertilizer get heavier and heavier every year that goes by.

During the holiday season, I have had the opportunity to look back on season after season of memories to see the changes in my life: From my early newspaper career and the inability to be home for Christmas, to mid-career and bargaining for Christmas Eve off, to my current position and the freedom to control my own schedule.

I have worked hard to get to the place I am today where I can control my own working hours and know that I will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my family.  Many people work every bit as hard as I have and don’t get there. I know that I made good decisions but I have also been lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

My son-in-law may or may not be here, depending on if he is on call as a paramedic and a call comes in.

In this season of love, dare I hope that my progeny will somehow manage to be lucky enough to stay close to those they love, and that all of us will just stay a big, happy, growing family? To all who are celebrating this season, whether with loved ones near or far away, Merry Christmas.

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