THIS past week or so has been an exciting time for high school seniors as they donned caps and gowns and marched down the isle of auditoriums into their future.

For parents and grandparents, it was somewhat bittersweet. We are joyful for the young men and young women as they graduate, but also somewhat sad that we will no longer be such a big part of their lives.

And I’m sure there are many others like this proud grandpa who — as I watched my granddaughter Julia at Greenville’s graduation — reflected on the words of the great John Lennon and Paul McCartney:

“Yesterday came suddenly!”

After all:

• Wasn’t it just yesterday that I rocked that little baby in my den and pulled her tighter as I was horrified watching on television as the terrorists crashed airplanes into the Twin Towers in New York City?

• Wasn’t it just yesterday that she was 4 years old and we were the only people sled-riding at Buhl Park? And as we walked away hand-in-hand she looked up at me and said: “Grandpa, this is the best day of my life.”

• Wasn’t it just yesterday that I would drive to Greenville and pick her up at daycare while her mom and dad worked, and then take her to Dairy Queen to grab some ice cream and talk about her day?

• Wasn’t it just yesterday that I cut out a portion of a big box so she could write her own plays and put on puppet shows for us?

• Wasn’t it just yesterday that she was in second grade and I saw a spelling test on the refrigerator and remarked how great that the teacher wrote “100 percent” on the paper? To which the future valedictorian responded: “Grandpa, I always get 100 percent.”

• Wasn’t it just yesterday that I sat through those long dance recitals that she participated in for only a few minutes while the show seemed to last hours and hours and hours?

• Wasn’t it just yesterday that Grandma and I gladly traveled to volleyball matches and basketball games during her junior- and senior-high days to cheer on her and her teammates, win or lose.

Yes, YESTERDAY came suddenly for every parent and grandparent at graduations throughout Mercer County as we wondered to each other: “Where did the time go?”

And as they carried diplomas across the stage, we reflected on all the moments that we spent with our children or grandchildren, realizing that our lives will never be the same.

So congratulations to all graduates in our area and good luck in your future endeavors. And thanks to parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators, coaches and more who helped them reach that milestone in their lives.

Luckily, as I watch my granddaughter head off to Pitt at least I can rest assured that I will be going there with her.

You see, no matter where she goes for as long as I live, Grandpa will always be wrapped around her little finger!

LYNN SATERNOW of The Herald writes this column each week for The Opinion Page. He can be reached at lsaternow@sharonherald.com.