I have a very specific definition of what a "lady" is. Opposite of that is my ingrained definition of a "woman."
Thanks to my mother, my sister and I not only heard about things that were ladylike and unladylike, but we also saw the correct kind of behavior displayed by my mom.
The classic song "Once, Twice, Three Times A Lady" comes to mind as I think of all the ways I've gotten to see my mother act like "a lady, NOT a WOMAN."
First, of course, I saw my mom as, well, my mom. During my growing up years, she was kind to us, but was very much our mother. We were disciplined, we were loved, and we could be stopped in our tracks with The Look. (There's a strong chance we still can.)
Secondly, we saw our mom in her other relationships -- with our dad, our grandmothers, aunts and uncles, friends, coworkers. And if "ladylike" is respectful, kind, fair and generous as we were taught it was, then yes, our mother is certainly a lady in those roles, too.
And lastly, I see my mom as a fellow adult, which is great. The progression has been natural, but the things I'm learning from my mom each day and with every interaction are well above average. To add to her original definition of a "lady" from our childhood, I'd say that as well as kind, gentle, genuine, and not crass, I can include dryly funny, open to new experiences, willing to work hard for desired results, and 1,000%, no-holds-barred, loving.
So this June 27, I'd like to wish my sweet mother a birthday full of the type of happiness she gives to me with every interaction, and has shown me at every turn.
After all, not every 60th birthday girl is once, twice, three times a lady. :-)