I like to look through old family pictures. I'm pretty sentimental that way, I guess.

The old Polaroids from the 1970s showing my first years are some of the pictures I treasure most. There are so many pictures of me with one of my parents while the other was behind the camera. And, unlike the digital photo libraries most of us have on our phones and computers these days, those 40-year-old pictures are ones I can hold in my hands, making them extra special to me.

I'm a good bit older now than my parents were in those old snapshots from the '70s. I've got a beautiful family. And even in a digital world, I still have plenty of printed pictures of my own kids, my wife and my extended family.

It's hard to say what life was like for us in those little snapshots of life in the '70s -- I was little, too little to remember anything. Everyone was younger, and my parents, all but one of my grandparents and lots of great-aunts and great-uncles I adored were still living.

I like to think those times were mostly happy, and as I reflect this Mother's Day on what my mom means to me, it's hard to imagine I'm wrong.

My mom is the most kind-hearted person I've ever known. There's not a close second. Everyone who knows her loves her. She would do anything she could to help another person in need. The same goes for animals -- especially her two dogs and cat. And that kind spirit she has is contagious.

I've been spending a little more time with her lately, and I see that everywhere we go -- the grocery store, her favorite restaurants, the veterinarian who takes care of her fur babies -- everyone knows her, they all light up when they see her, address her by her name -- "Mrs. Jo" as most of them call her -- and ask her how she's doing.

She recently pulled out some pictures of her younger days, and I was entranced by the stories she had of a trip she took with two friends to Los Angeles at age 21 -- eating at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub so they could look for movie stars, visiting Grauman's Chinese Theatre, it all sounds like so much fun. And being nostalgic, it's neat to learn more about mom's life.

These days, she's still enjoying life, going to concerts with those same friends nearly 50 years after their trip to L.A. She just saw Neil Diamond's 50 Year World Anniversary Tour concert. She was so proud recently when she sat next to former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland at a Beach Boys concert and got a picture with him. And when she goes to the store or the veterinarian, I love that the people who work there ask her about how her latest concert was.

I imagine it was like that when she was growing up, and even in the '70s -- when you went in a store, people knew your name and asked how you were doing.

As Douglas County has gotten bigger, and people have become more rushed, I guess it's harder for businesses to get to know everyone who comes in, but I don't think my mother has ever met a stranger.

I keep hearing over and over lately how my daughter, Abby, looks just like my mom. I told you I'm sentimental, and every time someone says that, I beam with pride. I want my daughter to be like my mom, and I know from seeing Abby grow up that she is like mom in so many ways. Watching my mom joke around with Abby and my two sons, Ethan and Henry, and enjoying time with them is also a wonderful sight to see.

Life hasn't always been easy -- my dad died on their 19th wedding anniversary, five years after he was an an automobile accident that changed all our lives forever. But my mom persevered, raising four kids, all of us under 12, largely on her own.

Others might have given up on life, but my mom showed strength and stayed positive in the face of that adversity.

My mom's kindness and strength are two gifts that she's passed along to her four children and 12 grandchildren. We love her as much as she loves us.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Ron Daniel is a Douglas County native and managing editor of the Sentinel.

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