Some of my most treasured moments with my mother were spent during long car rides to unfamiliar places where hills and mountains dotted the landscape, or during a brief hike through the Andes mountains in Peru or while sitting in a concert hall listening to a symphony perform “Star Wars” music.

Reflecting on my friendship with my mother through our sometimes unique travels and outings, it thrills me to watch her ease into her 70th birthday this week with the same style, grace, beauty and effervescent optimism she has always displayed.

She is to me one of the most beautiful women in the world. Her large brown eyes, long black wavy hair, endearing smile and energy for life are priceless.

On our first family reunion cruise to the Caribbean this week, I am looking forward to rekindling memories with my mother, my aunt and the cousins I grew up with. Best of all, my children will be there to share in the memories, too.

Much of mom’s energy, I’ve discovered, comes from her daily exercise regimen, her preference for natural and healthy foods and from her daily habit of feeding her mind with scriptures from the Bible.

Occasionally, during our travels, my mother and I can get a bit weary, maybe testy or even bossy with one another, but I know that means it’s time to yield to her, sit down and just let her be mom.

I can only imagine what we’ll be talking about during our walks on the ship’s decks, under the moon. Maybe I will thank her for all of the times she babysat my three children.

I suspect that during some of our cabin time, we just might pull out an old fashioned game of jacks.

In my childhood years, my mother and her sisters and brothers often traveled to visit one another during holidays, summers or for a family picnic on Lake Pontchartrain. Those reflections will trigger fond memories of our loved ones who have passed.

Growing up in Shreveport as one of seven children, my mother, who loves to write poetry and has a book of memoirs, learned a lot from her business-owner father and her mother, a homemaker. During my mother’s early career as a middle school science teacher, she often went above and beyond, tutoring students with reading difficulties. Her professions changed over time, but watching her habit of waking up each morning to go to work and help my father provide for our family set the example for me.

My mother taught me and my sister to hold our heads high, speak clearly, walk straight, use our manners and always say “please” and “thank you” to others.

She is, indeed, the wind beneath my wings and my inspiration for making my career choices, raising my children with love and keeping God first in my life.

Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at chantewriter@hotmail.com.