Seeing my nieces reminded me how much I really miss them

Over the weekend, I was able to visit with my two nieces, Courtney and Samantha.

It’s been three years since I’d seen them. I think Jordan and Cameron were more excited that I to see them. Gavin, who is only four, doesn’t really remember them.

We have not seen them since we moved to Arkansas in July 2011.

I almost didn’t recognize Samantha. She’d changed so much, and she didn’t look the same in the photos on Facebook. I’ve known her since the day she was born, and I couldn’t believe it was her.

My sister-in-law, Jennifer, said she could say the same about my boys especially the older two.

Kids grow up too fast. It seems like yesterday Courtney, 16, and Samantha, 15, came into this world. During our visit, Courtney got out her guitar and played for us. She plans to use her musical talent during her career as she plans to attend a performing arts school in California next fall.

When she played for us, I was amazed by her raw talent. She can play the guitar, piano, drums, and the flute. She taught herself how to play the guitar and the piano, but it sounds like she’d had formal lessons.

Courtney said “sometimes my dad gets mad at me because I can play better than he does and he’s been trying for years. I just started last year.”

I could see Robert being a little irritated by the fact he’s wanted to play the guitar his entire life but has never mastered the craft. He even took lessons when Courtney was a baby. While I’m sure there’s a little irritation, I could never see Robert getting angry because of her talent. I know he knows that God given talent is a gift. We all have them. We just have to figure out what those talents are and how to use them to serve our Father.

Seeing the girls, as we affectionately call them, reminded me how much I miss them. Courtney went to her junior prom in April, and the upcoming year is her senior year. This time next year, she will be getting ready for college. Hopefully we still have at least a good five to 10 years before she walks down the aisle.

Samantha is a tom-boy. She is in the band and also plays soccer. She is Robert’s little girl and his football buddy all rolled into one. He thought for sure she’d be a boy so when she turned out to be a girl they named her Samantha and we call her Sam or Sami. I was actually in the room when Samantha entered this world. I was one of the first people to get to hold her. I remember thinking how perfect she was in that moment.

When they were little, I feel like I had a special bond with the girls. They’d come to my house a lot. Courtney would always ask about her Uncle Jimmy. It seemed like he was always working.

They moved to Hawaii in 2000 just weeks before Jordan was born, but they came to visit when Robert deployed to Egypt for six months. I remember Jordan crawling around after them. He always called them “the girls” even when he couldn’t speak plain.

When Cameron came along, Robert, Jennifer and the girls had moved to Ft. Stewart, Ga. so they visited more often. In 2004, we took a vacation with them, my mom and Granny Goo. We had such a great time. Even though the tornado destroyed our photos of the trip, I can still close my eyes and remember how happy we all were.

Now we live about 12 hours away from them, we don’t get to see them as much. I guess we just lucked up and were in town at the same time. They don’t get to visit my mom very much, and when they do, it’s not often we are in town at the same time. I’ve only seen my brother once since we moved here. A friend asked me how I managed to go so long without seeing most of my family. I simply said you get used to not seeing them after a while. It’s been 14 years since they moved away. I’m used to not seeing them. But, I do talk to them at least once a week, and there’s Facebook, which helps us share pictures and such online. It makes the distance feel not so far away.

We definitely had a good weekend, and I know I’ll get to see them next May as I am definitely planning to be in the audience when Courtney gets her diploma.

<em>Melissa Cason is a staff writer for the Advance Monticellonian. She can be reached at 367-5325.</em>

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