But is seems like only yesterday that we packed up her little backpack and she trekked off to her first day of kindergarten.
The years went by so fast. When I flip through my mental scrapbook, I wonder where the time went.
I am one of those people who does not ever seem to have time to organize my photographs and personal papers. They are somewhat neatly put away in my grandmother's old cedar chest waiting for that day when I do have time.
So when I turn back in memory, I have to look through my mental file and in the deep recesses of my mind the picture that often comes to the forefront is my daughter's first day of school.
Like the photo that is packed away somewhere, I can still see her frozen in time standing in our foyer in her pretty little dress with her hair bows and backpack and a tentative smile on her face. She is my youngest, the baby, and mothers know that when the baby starts school, a chapter ends. Those golden days of having tiny children around draw to a close, and the days of dance lessons and ball practice, car pools and PTA meetings begin.
When children are young and have not started school, home is the whole wide world. And parents are the center of their children's universe.
Then one day, they start school, and the person who looms large is their teacher.
My first-grade teacher at the old Canton Elementary in downtown Canton was Mrs. Frank Palmer. A calmer, sweeter lady could not be found anywhere. I can still see my classroom on the first floor of the oldest building of the Academy Street complex.
I don't remember my parents taking me to school that first day. In fact, from the moment I started school, I was happy, with friends, with learning and with life in general, never looking back to those childhood times at home.
My father worked next door at the Canton Textile Mill office. He would drop me off each morning, and my mother would be lined up with the other mothers to pick me up each afternoon.
I remember my plaid satchel, with the little pocket on front, my crayons and my first reading book. Those simple items were so important to me, so precious and representative of so much.
When my own children started school, they went to the "new" Canton Elementary built in 1974 next to Cherokee High School. Of course, by then children went to kindergarten in public school.
My son, Nathan's, kindergarten teacher was Mrs. Carolyn Hitt, and Ann had Mrs. Hallen Huddlstun for her first year at Canton Elementary.
Those two ladies, so completely different in age and teaching style, were both perfect for my two oh-so different children. They each contributed to a tremendous start for my children in their educational process.
But the first day of school and every day is about so much more than just learning to read and write. It is about life lessons, too.
I hope each teacher who steps into the classroom this week for the first day of school realizes that the impression they make on their students will be with that child for a lifetime.
I have wanted to be and do many things in my life, but never a teacher. That is too difficult and too much responsibility for me. My hat is off to those who do the job.
It has been more than 20 years ago that Ann let go of my hand that first day of school, but I can still feel her little fingers slide out of my palm and see her give me a wave and a goodbye look.
I still remember how she looked as she trudged through the big double doors, looking up at the bigger kids, swallowed into the sea of children sweeping into the first day of a new school year.
A beginning that opened a new chapter in her life and ended one in mine.
But even though that ride home was lonely and the rhythm of my days had changed, it was a new beginning for me, too.
Watching our children grow up is painful, but it is sweet and fulfilling, too. I cherish each precious memory, but none more than the first day of school.
Rebecca Johnston is former editor of The Cherokee Tribune.