I got a call the other day from a 21-year-old man! He wanted to know what I was doing that weekend. If I wasn’t busy, he said, maybe we could get together for lunch or dinner.

The boy is young, sweet and handsome, and though I have known him for a long time, I never thought he would EVER call to say, “Go out with me.”

I know you’re probably thinking I’m some kinda CradlerobbingMaryKLaterneaufreak, but I think you’re probably just jealous. I told him I would be delighted to go out with him, and we agreed to meet last Saturday evening.

My husband even agreed that I should go.

I took extra care with my hair and my attire. I wanted to look good — wanted my young man to be proud of the way I looked. I wore a dress that said “mature but not an old woman.” He met me at my car and told me I looked nice. He then gave me his arm and proudly escorted me into the restaurant. I was overjoyed.

What a kind and sensitive guy, and for these few hours he was all mine!

We were seated in the restaurant and he told me to order anything I wanted. Wow — a young man with a dollar! I was impressed. So we ordered our meal and we laughed and talked for almost 2 hours.

We talked about our jobs and our loved ones. At first we were a little shy, never having dined alone together, but before long we were laughing and talking and sharing, and I realized how deeply I love him.

Sitting there talking to him let me see how smart he is and what he thinks about life and relationships and world issues, and I was proud that he didn’t think that I, at age 50, was too old for him to share this moment with.

At the end of the meal I asked what made him decide to ask me out, and he said, “Mom,” – Oh, did I forget to tell you he is my son? “Mom,” he said, “My friend’s mother is ill, and she may not live, and the other day we were talking about the memories we have of our mothers. Well. I realized among the memories I have of my growing-up years, I don’t have the memory of going out with just my mother. Just you and me. So I decided that the memories we have are the memories we make. I just wanted to make this memory with you.”

Wow! Did I really raise this thoughtful, wise young man?

My eyes filled with tears, but I knew I had to hold them back in such a public place. I knew my young man had his limits and didn’t want his blubbering mother trumpeting her joy to the whole place.

So I smiled really hard and told him how much the evening meant to me and that I would never forget it. We promised that we will meet often for a Mother-son evening, and we left.

I bought a thank-you card on the way home and wrote a note to him, telling him how much his thoughtfulness and our evening meant to me. I’m also thinking that I just might call my lawyer and leave everything to him!

And you know, every mother deserves to get that call from her son or daughter with an invitation to dinner, “just the two of us.” It says to a mother that you don’t find us too old or too dull and that you value the place we hold in your lives. It says that you aren’t too busy with your life and your friends to take some time for us.

Most of all, it says that you are proud of us too. It lets us know that we raised you right. It assures us that the Golden Rule and the time-out corner worked out just fine. That the hugs and kisses and Pepto-Bismol weren’t wasted. It gives us the opportunity to bear witness to the person you have become — up close and personal.

What a gift.

As a mother of three, I have received many gifts. The obligatory Mothers Day flowers and the usual Christmas gown. The Valentine’s card made with crayons and macaroni. But the sweetest, by far, was an hour alone with my son — at his request.

D. Barbara McWhite grew up in York County, S.C., and now lives in Orange Park, Fla.

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