My mother is celebrating a milestone birthday today. (Hi Mom!)

One of her most admirable qualities is her generosity to others.

When I called her earlier this week, she had been cooking for days, preparing meals for infirm neighbors and friends. She is generous with her time, with her resources, and with love and concern.

A retired nurse and educator, she continues to find ways to serve others.

photo credit FutUndBiedl

Here are 7 gifts she’s given me over the years:

Her example. As far back as I can remember, my mom has worked tirelessly. I remember celebrating her graduation from nursing school, and her diligence in completing her Master’s degree. I remember my pride in her when she traveled as a speaker for pharmaceutical companies (a few times I traveled with her, enjoying lavish dinners). She “showed up” in powerful ways to share her gifts with the world.

A hot breakfast. My high school routine included rolling out of bed at the last possible minute, taking a quick shower, and sitting down to a hot breakfast each morning before school. My mother probably poached hundreds of eggs for me. They were all perfect.

A love of thrifting. I remember Saturday morning trips to garage sales in elementary school, stopping for a breakfast biscuit to recharge for more shopping. In every town my mom has lived in, she’s found all the best thrift stores, and a highlight of every visit together is shopping for treasures.

A love of reading. I grew up with my mom reading to me regularly, taking me to the library, and encouraging my love of reading. We swap books back and forth, and some of my favorite recent reads are ones my mom sent to me.

Enduring faith. My mom tucked me into bed with songs and prayers, and took me to church weekly.

Wheels and wings. Though this seems superficial, my mom gave me wheels, twice — my 1985 Honda Prelude (at age 16), and later, before the birth of our second daughter, an automatic transmission 4-door Toyota Camry, when I’d been driving a standard in the city. She also gave me wings — encouraging me to pursue big goals and dreams.

Love. The best gift of all — my mom’s love has been unwavering, constant.

Happy birthday, Mom. Thank you for all the gifts you give to me (and to the world.)

Tell me something! What gifts has your mother given you? Where would we be without our moms?