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Time after time after time

Time and tide wait for no man…time flies when you're having fun…time is a thief when you're undecided…' There are a million and one quotes out there about the subject of time. I find myself wondering just where the last 25 years have gone.

It certainly doesn't seem possible that nearly two-and-a-half decades have passed since a small, bald, red-faced "preemie" named Heather Ann came a-hollering into this world and into my life. Last Saturday that little girl, my eldest niece, became Mrs. Erik Lambert.

I was still a teenager when Heather was born,"sixteen goin' on seventeen", as the saying goes. I was the baby' of my family so I'd never had a little sister or brother to enjoy.

Her mom and dad, my sister Debbie and her first husband, Jim, lived a good distance away in Birmingham. Still, Heather came down to the country via that durty, wough woad' pretty often to visit Gramma', Papa' and yours truly.

Even after I went away to college at Troy, we were often together on the farm during holidays.

We played pretend (ah, the tea parties!) and did lots of girlie' stuff together (putting on make-up, nail polish, doing our hair). Heather was the solicitous Mrs. Woodlong', a doting mom who fed her sickly daughters' (my sister Sara and I) a yummy pretend meal of "Fwoot Woops and wahter".

"I swear, I never, ever made that child eat Fruit Loops with water-I don't know where she got that," my bemused sister said with a sigh.

Heather always had a great imagination-and very little fear. She was a physical daredevil who liked to play circus performer on the rusty old swing set in the back yard.

The old family farm was a great place for this curious little city gal. She cavorted with the family dogs, ate Popsicles while sunning on the front porch pillars and explored the musty old barn. When she went for rides in the back of my dad's dusty pick-up, the kid beamed as if she were riding in the plushest limo.

And the food from that country kitchen-crispy fried chicken, hot, flaky biscuits and thick gravy, fresh-from-the-field pink-eyed peas-was, in Heather's clear blue eyes, unparalleled. "Gramma, you cook GOOD," she'd say. Somehow, the food tasted just a little bit better to all of us when Heather was around.

"Sing me a song, Angie," she would beg and, of course, I would comply. I sang everything from "God Bless America" to "Amazing Grace" with a few Beatles' songs thrown in for good measure. I was a ham'; so was she. We were one another's highly appreciative audience.

When she was ten, Heather accompanied my mom and sister Sara on a flight to South Dakota to visit Aunt Angie and Uncle Benny. My husband and I had made a number of trips to the beautiful Black Hill's most fun and scenic spots by then- the man-made wonder of Mount Rushmore, the kitschy charm of the world's biggest tourist trap in the middle of nowhere (Wall Drug) and the exotic charms of Reptile Gardens.

But everything was a whole lot more fun with the big H'. She'd be completely worn out, almost asleep. Then we'd get to our next destination and Heather would spring to life again, ponytail bouncing, eyes sparkling, a sunny kid full of spit and vinegar. "Heather MADE that trip for us," Sara always says.

Over the years, I've watched her perform in ballet recitals and walk the aisles to receive both her high school and college diplomas. My heart swelled with pride each time.

When she asked me to sing at her wedding I was honored-and fearful. Would I be able to keep a grip on my emotions, I wondered?

I did pretty well through the rehearsal, the pre-wedding pictures, my song…right up to the moment that slim, blonde figure appeared in her white dress and headed down that aisle. My upper lip quivered, my eyes felt moist and something funny happened to my heart.

Heather Ann, you've brought joy into my life so many times, time after time. To you, I wish the same. Thanks for the memories.