Today is her birthday (is it ok to say which one, Mom? Hint -- she's older than I am). My mom taught me many things in life as all moms do. It is extraordinarily difficult for me to separate out those things that were special, because as she is my mother they all seem special to me. For one thing, despite her never going to college, she is extremely well read and thus extremely well educated. She impressed upon me from an early age the value of reading. Despite my dropping out of high school and running off to join the Navy (which you just know did her loads of good!), I was able to get through college and create a reasonable and responsible life for myself because of the reading she taught me to love. She taught me to never brag, she taught me to value everyone and their opinions, even when they were different from my own. She gave me the optimism by which I (generally) live my life.
And, she accepted me, and loved me for who I am and not for who she thought I might be or should be. That is extraordinary. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like for her to have a transgendered child. She was proud of her son, I can tell you. She seems equally proud of her newest daughter. Even within the trans community, that is rare.
She married my step-dad over 32 years ago (while I was in boot camp!) and through those years they have given each other equal doses of hell, and heaven.
Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you so very much!