When I’m a little old lady

The other evening I went to Eldest’s college choir concert, accompanied by my 17 year old daughter and my two 9 year old sons. Partway through the concert I noticed an elderly lady sitting a couple rows ahead of us. She was probably 70, with carefully arranged salt-and-pepper curls, a cardigan wrapped around thin shoulders, and ears adorned with antique-looking clip-on earrings. Next to her sat a smooth-cheeked 40-ish man in a sweatshirt and jeans, obviously her son.

The son sat with his arm draped over his mother’s shoulder, leaning down now and then to speak quietly into her ear. Watching them, I realized how rare it is in our society to see an adult man sitting with his arm around his mother. I imagined how it must feel to be that little old lady, savoring the warm presence of her son, and basking in his public acknowledgement of her value to him.

I wondered about the kind of mother she’d been when he was small. I imagined her cutting grilled cheese sandwiches into triangles and applying bandaids and hugging, hugging, hugging. Probably she imagined those hugs being passed by him on to his own wife and children some day. Maybe as a young mother she’d never imagined this moment far in the future when his strong arm would also shelter her frail one.

I never imagined it for myself until I saw that mother and son. But when I saw it, the sweetness of it filled me with yearning. I knew I was seeing something precious and realized that I would be very fortunate indeed to someday share an hour like that with my own sons.

And so I leaned towards the son closest to me, my oldest 9 year old. I put my arm around him and right there in the middle of the choir concert I spoke softly into his ear. “Do you see that old lady and her son up there? When you’re as big as that man and I’m a little old lady, will you put your arm around me like that sometime?”

He looked over at the two of them, and he got that head-ducking ‘ah, mom’ smile that boys get when moms get mushy. But then he straightened up and looked me right in the eye, so I could see the answer coming straight from his soul. “Yes.”

And as we smiled into each other’s eyes my heart melted into a little puddle at his feet. Then we both turned back to listen to the music, but my arm still rested over his shoulder, treasuring both the moment right now and holding onto that sweet promise for the future.

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  1. Aww, that is so sweet. You have an amazing way of expressing moments like these through your writing. What a gorgeous boy you have (your other kids don’t sound half bad either!)

  2. that is sweet sweetness!!

    I was wondering if you could name that Bible story book you had mentioned was really good for kids. I was looking back through the past posts and couldn’t find it.


  3. Yes, a precious marker of success…the kind that really matters. So thrilled that neither one of you missed seeing this beautiful moment…it became yours as well.

  4. This is too beautiful Mary and wonderfully expressive as so much of you writing is. I just love your take on the every day occurrences that we might scurry by without noticing. I too one day hope to have a moment so precious…even as the one you got to have with your 9 yo…too sweet!


  5. there is a puddle of tears right here in los angeles. what an amazing moment.

  6. And not once did it occur to you that he was her boy-toy?

  7. aspecialfamily says:

    That’s such a beautiful story…..

  8. I shall hope for the same.
    I completely dislike seeing lonely elders.

  9. Beautiful!!

    And I happen to be married to a man who does this very thing. And I love that my boys think it’s the “normal” thing to do — dress up and take your Mom out to a concert! Of course, we do lots of family things too, but I know she craves that “alone time” with her “boy.”

  10. Now you’ve made every mother with a little boy cry…. including me.


  11. Waaaaaaah!!!!!

  12. That’s so sweet.

    Several years ago I went to my in-laws 3 mornings a week to give my MIL a shower and breakfast while my FIL would go out to do errands like grocery shopping.

    I cut down on home schooling to only one son (who begged to not go to school) so that I’d have time to do this. He often told me that he’d take care of me when I was old.

  13. Mary, that is so sweet. I loved reading that. I have three boys (so far), and people often express sadness for me that I don’t have any girls. I am always surprised. While I would love to have the relationship with a daughter that my mom and I have, I adore having all boys. People always say that you lose your son when he marries, but you have your daughter for life. While that may be mostly true, I can definitely hope for sweet moments like the one you described.

  14. Mary,

    I am a faithful reader but a first time commenter. I wanted to share a similar story. Recently my husband, my mother, my three sons and I were out to breakfast after church on a Sunday morning. At the next table was an elderly lady with a young man, maybe early twenties. He was animatedly sharing his stories from college with his Grandma, and she was just soaking them (and him) in. They were so obviously enjoying their time together.

    My ten year old looked at his Grandma and said, “Gaga, I can’t wait for that to be you and me!”

    Hope for the future, indeed!


  15. ((SIGH)) I have had many moments like that with my boy. There is just something so precious about the relationship between mother and son. My (nearly) 12 year old still gives me hugs and snuggles up next to me on the couch. However…my 17 year old boy is big enough to hold me in his lap now! πŸ™‚

  16. CanadianCarrie says:

    That is the sweetest thing!!

  17. I’m a Mom of two boys. This is beautiful!

  18. kelli in the mirror says:

    So sweet! I hope for that too with my little boy.

  19. 6am and already I’m having a little cry. It’s going to be a loooong day πŸ™‚

  20. Ooooooooooooooooooooo! That is SO sweet!

  21. mary, a touching moment you’ve enlivened for us, definitely. with one caveat: at just 70 years of age, i really and truly hope i don’t i’m not described as a “little old lady”. my mom, who died at just 74, had not reached that stage yet, she was still working and travelling, etc. maybe when i’m 80, call me a little old lady but when i’m 70, God willing, i will be healthy and as youthful as i can be without denying my inevitable physical decline. perhaps the ceiling on “little old ladyness” rises, the older one herself becomes!?

  22. I’m not a little old lady…well, not that old anyway…but lately my 32 year old son has finally started to be public ally affectionate with me like you describe. It touches me beyond belief. I feel so proud. Thanks for a great post. I’ll come back and visit again.

  23. What a tender moment. What a treasure. Thanks for sharing it with us, Mary.

  24. Oh, how beautiful. That brought tears to my eyes. Thanks so much for sharing such a loving moment between you and your son.

  25. As the mom of four sons, I can only hope and pray for our close bond to continue as we all grow older together.

  26. This made me cry. Very sweet.

  27. What a precious moment to witness. Thanks for sharing with us!

  28. This reminds me of one of my favorite children’s books, I Love You Forever. If you haven’t seen it you must get it. It’s about a mama who rocks her boy and then when she is old he rocks her. So sweet.

  29. thak you

  30. God is able to bless with similar blessings even those who have not had a good mother/child relationship. Oh the wonderful amazing grace of God!


  31. I came over here from the link on Rocks in my Dryer and – wow! I teared up a little. What a sweet story. Thank you!

  32. I’m with Jeannie on that age ceiling. I happen to be 70, don’t have any antique earrings, still love to dance, party, travel, entertain, and generally kick up my heels. For a 30 year old 70 must seem very old but for a 70 year old, i bristle under the term “little old Lady, or elderly. I have a sister who is 84, still goes to a job, entertains, and she thinks “elderly” and “little old lady” are dirty words. lol. I guess its all relative. Now I look at 90 year olds as well….90 year olds. I’ve done away with the descriptions. When I was 55, we went to a fast food place for breakfast and the cashier asked me if I wanted a senior citizen discount. Talk about poed. I was. So I vowed to do something about how I looked and never look older than I really was if I could help it. You young ladies out there, your day is coming. Just give it time and you never know, that lady you saw at the concert could have really, you know, been with her boy toy. I bet you didn’t wait to see if she used a cane or walked proudly in heels as they left.

  33. Beautiful post.

  34. Great, you made me cry on an otherwise happy Sunday evening πŸ™‚ Lovely writing.

  35. I popped on over from Shannon’s (Rocks/Dryer). I just wanted to say ‘thank you’. Your post gave me goosebumps and a happy little lump in my throat. I will never have a little boy, but maybe someday my little girl and I will have that strong a bond. I am working on it, one moment at a time.

    Thank you for reminding us about the precious moments of our lives.


  36. Tears in my eyes. That was a precious post.

  37. texasknights says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts so well. My son melts my heart too . Of course my girls do so easily but something about that boy hugging me, leaning on me, etc. makes me one happy and tearful momma.

  38. AAAWWWWW, I’m crying.

    I’m off to hug my boy just one more time while he’s sleeping.

  39. This is the sweetest post! My dreams of the future look very similar to yours!

  40. Okay, you’re making me cry…

  41. So sweet….. Reminds me of the book “Love You Forever.” I frequently cry when reading that book to my kids. [:-)


  42. Mary,

    Thanks for sharing that beautiful moment. I pray my boys will put their arms around me as I age.


    Dallas, TX

  43. Oh Mary, you did it again, I’m in puddles. It reminds me of the book, I love you forever.

  44. muy buen post, me hizo recordar viejos momentos.

    salu2 desde PerΓΊ.

  45. Mary,
    I think I’ve told you before that I’m a mom of three boys. This post has completely reduced me to tears. I so hope at least ONE of them will do this for their mom one day. If giving lots of hugs, cuddles, bandaids, book reads, laundry washing, errand running will get me a little closer, then count me in!

  46. That is such a great story! I have 3 young ones and it’s so hard to imagine them ever being that old, but I know that it’ll be here before I know it.

  47. I have one child and she said she is going to name her daughter Molliey! (has to be spelled that way!) She also has a website called webkinzusers.wordpress.com ! I think that Molliey is cute!!!!

    ;D ;D πŸ˜€

  48. Very special. thank you.

  49. Oh you have me in tears! πŸ˜‰