Like Mom


It’s my mom’s birthday today. She’s turning 75, but you’d never know it. According to my brother, Micah, “Mom doesn’t look old enough to be 65.” True enough. And—I must add—it’s one of the many nice benefits of being her daughter—this not looking old enough.

Last Sunday we got to see firsthand Luke pastoring at his church in Colorado Springs. He’s the youth pastor for a small congregation, so he gets to do a bit of everything—responsive reading, communion, and helping a special needs student recite a prayer. Blessed to be a blessing, and there’s nothing like seeing your grownup kids passing on faith. After the service two older ladies shook my hand saying, “You don’t look old enough to be Luke’s mom.” And also, “We really like your son.” I thanked them for the compliments, both.

Monday afternoon Kyle and I drove the last leg of our road trip back from Colorado, via Des Moines. I traveled with laptop open, listening to audio of four sessions of a writer’s class from a recent conference. Typing notes into a Word document, I caught a glimpse of hands, eerily familiar, but not my own. Narrow wrists, tan and weathered, veins slightly bulging, fingers long, and it’s not a keyboard, but garden produce scrubbed over running water in the kitchen sink. Small red scratches, nicks of whiteish scars, hers earned strawberry-picking, mine a miscellany of the week’s hiking.

I’m already thinking about Mom when Kyle says it. “You like being outdoors more than anyone I know.” A week spent staying at my daughter-in-law’s parents’ house in the Springs, and every chance I get I grab laptop or book for a quiet escape to their woodsy backyard. Twice during our visit the Fullers spotted black bear meandering through, but not on my watch, and thank goodness. Though plenty of deer.

And then, at the end of the week, two overnights with Nils at Glen Eyrie. Garden of the Gods meets private castle, sprawling estate. The first night at the Glen it thunder-stormed, and we ate our pizza under the old carriage house shelter with Nils’ new friend, Kurt, telling stories about boys growing up. Warm wind blew our napkins across the cobblestone pavement, and for a brief time we listened to hail ping on the metal roof above, but we were out of harm’s way, and cozy, in red-cushioned patio chairs.

The next day’s rain held out for Anderson boys to golf, while Ali joined Micah and me for a day of hiking. Beatrice, too, our newest grand-dog, who’d hiked her first ever (we think) 14er on the 4th of July. Now, two days later, we’re climbing the red rocks of the Glen, Micah trying to capture the breathtaking views on his iPhone, knowing it’ll never do it justice. Which it doesn’t, and which is why, next morning, I linger long as possible on the castle patio, one last outdoor breakfast before leaving for church. Long drive away from mountains to follow.

You like being outdoors more than anyone I know. I’m holding my husband’s hand and we’re making our way slowly, back up the hill from breakfast. And my very first thought is “Just like my mom…” This soul-deep love of mountain air, and a good hard hike. My mother’s daughter, all the way.

Our last night at the Glen, Nils pulled out his guitar and sang songs he’d written about Minnesota, being a kid, and growing up. Memory songs, meant to make a mom weepy. My heart was full. Is full. And this is her song, too. My mom’s song of finding faith, loving God, rewriting the story, passing it down.

And today is her birthday. Back home in Minnesota, we’ll spend her special day riding bikes down in Canon Falls, the day’s forecast 70’s and sunny. God’s throwing a party. My sister will join us, and Gina’s every bit her mother’s daughter, too. Twenty birthdays ago I doubt we would have seen it this way, but the years define us, and make us grateful.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

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