Today my son texted to say he would be at my door soon. I assumed he must need something as he leaves tomorrow on an important business trip, and I’m always at the ready with a stocked fridge, natural remedies, stain removal kit and answers to the riddles of life for my young man. I was sure he had a to-do list as long as his guitar-playing four-foot arms, and the stress and preoccupation to go with it. He’s a music producer, performer and writer, stopping at several cities on this particular journey for collaborating and production, carrying responsibility and weight beyond his young years.

A few moments later, he bounced in and declared, “I wondered if you’d want to walk to get coffee; I’ve been wanting to take you out before I leave town!”

I must have looked like a raccoon staring at headlights in the dark, mumbling to find my words…sooo not prepared for this gift. Whenever my children present me with this mom-luxury, I hesitate awkwardly, then my first reaction is to say “thank you SO much but really, you have soooo many important priorities in life, it’s OK you don’t have to go with me or spend your limited time and money on ME your boring old (limping) (click here for the lowdown) mother!”

But I overrode my insecurities and said, “Sure, let’s do it!” I flew into hurry mode, spending just enough time on myself not to be an embarrassing hag-mother. Fifteen minutes max and we were strolling on the sunny side of the street in our urban neighborhood and yes, I was giddy as a schoolgirl. (Funny how the tables turn in midlife.)

I can’t express what it means to have my grown son choose to walk with me on this golden fall day, sharing his thoughts and dreams aloud. My beaming grin tells the world what a lucky girl I am; yet just beneath my smiling eyes, tears threaten because I recognize this moment, this blessed now, this glorious pause and I think, “what more could a midlife mama want?!”

We arrived in the bustling cafe to order. When he pulled the cash from his pocket to pay – that wrinkled well-traveled paper bill representing his thousands of hours of study and preparation, the hundreds of hours of driving cross-country performing his art – that humble slice of green left after the rent, utilities and cell bills were paid, the new guitar strings purchased, the gas tank filled, THIS! the portion he chose to spend on me rather than on himself…

Oblivious to the cashier, his outstretched hand held what represented his very life and here he was, giving it back to me in his love language: a perfect cup of fair-trade, shade grown, single-origin hipster drip, just to bless me, his Mama. I had to turn away because his sacrifice meant so much to me.

We lingered long out front on a bench, rays of autumn sunshine highlighting our deep and meaningful conversation…I hung onto him tight as we strolled home, wanting to freeze the frame, to replay the tape again and again. And I saved the cup until I see him again. A symbol, empty now and yet so full of priceless memories to me, his Mama.