We all have our own movies playing in our heads, flickering images of our moms.
Mom: the supporting character in all of our stories. She holds a special place in our hearts.
"I always felt this sense of pride that I had a mother who was so loving," says Jose Cruz.
"She lights up the room," says Kim Campi.
"She was the greatest mom in the world, which is what everybody almost says about their mom, I suppose," says Tom Shales, the well-known TV critic.
"We were reminded of our own mom when we'd see Margaret on 'Father Knows Best,'" says Shales. "They were not takers, they were givers, they helped others rather than waiting to be helped themselves. Somehow she seemed to typify the idealized American mom as we knew her then.
"I thought she was the most beautiful, perfect mom in the world," he says. "You know, everyone has their favorite memories of a mom and I have too many even to count."
Today's moms are more independent, more self-reliant, but they've never stopped sacrificing.
In 1957, Jose Cruz' mother Martha traded her promising nursing career in Santo Domingo for a basement apartment in the Bronx, all for him.
"She often told me that she brought me here so that I could have the opportunities that she never had in the Dominican Republic," he says. "Going to work and then coming home, preparing dinner and then preparing to go to school from 7:30 to 9. I just always remember her busy working. I don't recall hearing her say, 'I'm tired.'"
He does recall her spirited warmth.
"When I think about my mother I mainly think about her kisses. And about her embracing me and hugging me and telling me how in Spanish – 'Tu eres mas lindo' [You are so cute]. The assurance of love and affection I received from my mother. It has sustained me to this very day."
The very essence of what makes mom mom is different for everyone.
Kim Campi shared her mom, Dorothy, with eight brothers and sisters.
"Pat, Georgia, Bobby (Barbara), Mona, Me, David, Robin, Joe and Elizabeth."
"She has every birthday marked down and she goes to buy her cards and sends them out a week before, knows everyone's ages," says Kim. "She is just, she always has this natural ability to be organized in her life. I think that really helped a lot because keeping track of all of us... we lived in a small house so we couldn't leave a lot of clutter around. We always had to put our stuff away. She was always putting our stuff in the banister of the stairs so we'd take it away."
And through years of jostling dinner plates and intertwining schedules and homework, there was never a shortage of attention when it was needed most.
"I was in 8th grade...and I'd gone to a school dance and all my friends abandoned me, and I started crying and called my mother to come pick me up," she says. "I remember she was in her nightgown and she said it seems really bad and really sad right now it'll be fine... [it] just felt so good, I felt like, oh someone who loves me."
Now meet Scott and Jackie Miller, mother and son.
"She is everything I hope to be when I grow up!" says Scott about his mom.
"We knew that we were going to adopt a child," says Jackie. "And we met Scott shortly after his second birthday. He was just adorable. The most adorable little person you could imagine. It was mommy and of course, you know what that does, it radiates. "He's everything good you'd want to see in a human being and he's mine."
When we talked to Scott and Jackie, their closeness filled the room.
"I think that appreciating your parents, like so many things, comes with age," says Scott. "Because as you get older you have a far deeper understanding of number one, what love is and the sacrifices and the decisions and the constant work love inspires and requires. So I don't know if you can ever really say that you fully understand…what my mother has done. I suppose that's part of why there's this element of never feeling that enough is enough, you always need more. You need to do more to sort of justify sort of having the love of someone else like that."
"My mother is also my best friend and that's a choice...It's something that...it's something that I can't imagine not having."
Four very personal stories, each different, each one like our own.
For all the flickering images, all the indelible pictures, for all the moms, Happy Mother's Day.
A very special thanks to StoryCorps and their book "Mom: A Collection of Family Conversations." This week, they launched an iPhone app that you can use to interview your own mom.