Kathy Bohannon

Wedding of a nephew

We traveled recently from Savannah to Rome, Ga., to attend the wedding of our nephew, Zack.

Well, not really.

Technically, he’s not actually our nephew, but the son of my husband’s cousin Sally. In actuality, he and The Boy grew up together, separated by just a few acres of Moreland soil. The only things that kept them from being brothers were a bit of DNA and a family tree. It was just a natural process to take on the role of aunt to Sally’s kids just as she was to mine.

Those boys, usually accompanied by Zack’s younger brother Logan and The Boy’s sister Aubern Michelle, wore a trail into the countryside as they trekked from our house to Sally’s and back again. If we could do the math, I’m pretty certain that trail was crossed thousands of times.

Raising these kids — in the woods and before cellphones — meant we could holler and be heard 10 acres away. Trees and hills were no match for the voice of a mom summoning her offspring to head home for dinner. Sally and I burned up the phone calling back and forth, “are they at your house?” We weren’t worried at all, because if they were not in one yard or the other they were safely in between.

Our houses were fun because Sally had a trampoline and we had an above-ground pool. There was always something amazing to do, especially in the summer when the days eased from one into another. I kept a stash of milk, fresh bread, peanut butter, jelly, chips and popsicles for little kids that popped out of the pool looking like drowned rats. I always bought extra, a couple of times a week. I think of that often when I buy a loaf of bread now; too much for just two people.

The Boy and Zack loved to climb trees. They headed up one particular tree one day, perhaps just to see how high they could go. It was a pine tree, just on the edge of our long gravel driveway. Sally and I found them about the same time. She was coming down the driveway as I was calling them from the yard. I could hear them but I couldn’t see them. She looked straight up, and her normal “Zack!” call turned to “ZAAACCCKKK!”

My heart flipped when I saw the tiny form almost at the top of the tree. The Boy hadn’t made it that far but he was headed there.

They both started climbing down, Sally and I were holding the breath we drew in the moment we saw them.

It’s one of those, “I’m-glad-you-are-not-hurt-because-now-I’m-going-to-wring-your-neck” moments that moms tend to have. I hoped the boys enjoyed reaching for the stars in that tree because each of them was sent to their room to “think about what they had done.”

As for Sally and me, we would have fainted on the spot if we didn’t have two boys to discipline.

Our boys played together, went to church together, were in Boy Scouts together and went to school together. Zack was the closest thing to having a brother that The Boy would know as a child.

Nearly six years ago, The Boy stood in a church with his father and a line of groomsmen by his side. Zack was among the men, standing proud and handsome as he offered support for his childhood friend. The church was huge, and the wedding party trailed on either side of the bride and groom. My eyes were fixed on my son as he watched his bride walk down the aisle. He was beaming.

Last Saturday, I sat in a pew in a Methodist church in Rome, Ga., watching my “nephew” Zack as he waited for his bride to walk down the aisle. His father and brother Logan were at his side while The Boy stood proud and handsome among the groomsmen as he offered support for his childhood friend. The church was huge, and wedding party trailed on either side of the bride and groom. My eyes were fixed on Zack as he watched his bride walk down the aisle. He was beaming.

Fast-forward, and I do mean “fast,” to 2013. What I would give to see those pink-cheeked kids emerge from the woods, excited to tell the story of a deer they encountered or a tree they just climbed. I would hug them tighter, listen more intently, simply stop “my” world to be a part of theirs in a way that I would know with absolute assurance I could cherish that exact moment and never forget. But we can’t go back, we just pass the torch and support them as much as we can while they find their way just as we found ours.

I’m blessed to have witnessed this fine young man marry his beautiful soul mate. And unlike that moment when he was touching the sky from the top of a pine tree, it did my heart good.

(Kathy Bohannon is a regular contributor to The Newnan Times-Herald. Purchase her ebook Dyson the Terrible Puppy at BarnesandNoble.com. Kathy can be reached at kathybohan@yahoo.com.)

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