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We were all surprised when Grandma gave up slalom water skiing. After-all, she was only 79. Even now in her 80’s, my energetic red-headed mom has more spring in her step than most people half her age. Probably because she celebrates all the seasons—as well as all the seasons of life. And when I grow up, I hope I’m just like her.

When mom lost my dad after fifty-four years of marriage, she could have felt half-a-person. After all, they were Bill-n-Ruth & Ruth-n-Bill, their names flowing together like their love and their lives. But instead, Mom kept her big genuine smile and pressed forward into a new season.

Mom sold their home of fifty-two years and moved into a retirement community in another town. There she sings in a choir, writes poetry, leads a Bible Study, swims, and works out with Silver Sneakers. In addition, she volunteers as a docent for a local historical site and takes driftwood carving classes, earning recognition as an artist.

From her apartment office, she strives to learn technology on her new smart phone, uses her computer to create amazing graduation photo books for each of her eight grandchildren, and refashions all of their clothes. She so models how to celebrate life, she was recently nominated for the Inspire Positive Aging Award – in the Lifelong Learning Category.

When she flies cross country from one Washington to the other, she helps us out on the farm during lambing season, repairs appliances, stains and paints chairs, reupholsters furniture, bakes, mends clothing, and once created all new draperies for living, dining, and basement.

Last year she flew to Montana, twice to Virginia, vacationed in Idaho, and took a road trip with me to North Carolina where we two hunkered down in a rest stop bathroom during a tornado and later braved a snowstorm (some “Spring” trip!). This past Christmas, she was thrilled to travel to Charlottesville for a UVA basketball game and cheer from the student section where she won a UVA tee-shirt. Though she really wants me to take her to the Crimea where her parents lived, my husband nixed that location.

She has lots to cheer about at her grandkids’ events, and plays with them in beach volleyball and cornhole. She continues to bake the best homemade English muffins, cinnamon rolls, and banana cream pie. And though she no longer water-skis, Grandma inner-tubes, paddle-boards, swims across the lake (with a little help), and rides the jet ski.

I have to admit, Mom’s step has slowed a bit as of late, necessitating her upcoming hip replacement surgery. She can’t wait to get back to her old self. “She’ll soon be running circles around all of us again,” her daughter-in-law proclaimed. That’s Mom. She models and inspires her children, grandchildren and friends to always look forward.

The Upside of growing up is that I might one day be just like my mom.

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