As I trudge down the old familiar path, I look up and see a lithe figure silhouetted by the rising sun. This indistinct shape seems the most solid of the many mist-obscured phantoms that dart through the surrounding trees. As I get closer, I see her gray-brown hair flying wildly about her head in the slight breeze, which somehow manages not to ruffle the white T-shirt above her boot-cut jeans. For some reason these garments seem less casual on her than they are. She infuses them with purpose, with character. As I raise my eyes from her boots to her face, I am struck by the way she stands, confident, determined. I imagine this is the way naval ship captains, or elite army generals would have stood in front of troops, before the storm of the enemy broke upon them. This image is not lessened when I look into the contours of her face. Determination and wealth of character are gathered from freckles by worry and laughter lines, whose only purpose is to allow the pure light of her soul to shine from every crease, ending pooled within her warm brown eyes.
After the initial hug, my mother starts leading me back toward the house, and I stand up a little straighter.