For many, many years I've said, "If I can grow up to be even a fraction of the woman my mother is, I'll be an incredibly blessed woman".
Not too terribly long after Clif and I had been seriously dating I called Mom one day in tears with desperate apologies for my rotten teenager-ness. I honestly don't remember what exactly it was about something he did that triggered the realization that my mother put up with my frustrating behavior for years. I was so overcome by thankfulness for her unending guidance, patience and love that years later I wanted to beg forgiveness for my behavior that she never deserved.
We've always been close but as I matured my appreciation for her grew by leaps and bounds. She is, hands down, one of the best friends I have ever and will ever have.
I love you, Mom, have a beautiful birthday.