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What’s the Greatest Gift Your Mother Ever Gave You?

Real Simple readers reveal the most precious of presents.

Flower tea cup with cookies on a white napkin Burcu Avsar

My mother’s greatest gift came after she was gone. She used a certain perfume that was her signature fragrance, and she hoarded bottles of it, since it was difficult to find. When she was down to her last two, she refused to use it anymore. I begged her to just enjoy it, but she didn’t listen. When she passed away, we found the two bottles of perfume. She probably intended to leave one for me and one for my sister. Now, every time I smell that scent, Mom is with me.
Ellen Ogintz
Monroe Township, New Jersey

I can still recall the present my mom gave me for my 10th birthday. It wasn’t something I had asked for, but I was intrigued because a key came with it. The key went with my first diary. I realize now that my mother had provided me with a special place of comfort for my own thoughts and words. In the bottom drawer of my dresser, that faded, worn diary is tucked away in the back corner. Over the years, writing has been my soothing grace, in good times and in bad.
Dawn Miner
Shushan, New York

Memories. My mother now suffers from Parkinson’s disease and is mentally and physically incapacitated. I am so grateful for the simple but meaningful times we shared when I was growing up, from making cupcakes for my father’s birthday when I was five to playing dress-up in her too-big clothes and donning her frosted, 1970s wigs. Every little detail that is stamped in my memory helps me smile and appreciate the incredible mother she is and the life she gave me.
Jennifer Kopec-McLaughlin
Mountain Top, Pennsylvania

The way her face absolutely beams when she sees me and her voice lightens with happiness when I call her on the phone. Every time. Even after 38 years.
Kristen Harnisch
Darien, Connecticut

My mother gave me red. Yes, the color! She taught me that red and pink are truly compatible (back in the 1940s, this wasn’t necessarily a popular combination), that red is a “neutral” shoe color, and that every room needed a touch of this fiery shade. It is still my favorite color, and I think of my mother every time I use it.
Judy Bolton Jarrett
Columbia, South Carolina

My smile. Whenever someone tells me that I have a great smile, I grin even more, thinking about the person who passed it on to me―my mom. She has the exact same one.
Laura Hylton
San Diego, California

My mom taught me the importance of volunteerism. All through my youth, my single mother was involved in numerous community-service organizations. I have vivid memories of dropping off clothes at the battered women’s shelter and being a buddy at the annual county Special Olympics. I know her volunteerism has touched not only my life but those of countless others as well.
Cindi Gambardella
Kansas City, Missouri

My mother always had a sense of wonderment. The color of a leaf, a sprinkling of snow, the smell of hot soup―she found the greatest pleasure in everyday things.
Nancy Bradford
Houston, Texas

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