RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -

For Verna Watson, Mother's Day carries a special meaning. It was on this holiday 17 years ago that she and her husband, Doug, received their greatest gift: a child.

"Reid was in Korea waiting for us and we went to South Korea to pick him up," Verna said. "He was six months old."

But from an early age Verna and Doug knew Reid was unlike the children around him. 

"Things that other typical children would find very exciting he had no interest in," Verna said.

When he was just four years old, Reid was diagnosed with autism. Knowing the difficult road ahead, Verna decided to make the most of their situation and focus her energy on giving Reid had a happy and normal childhood.

"My mom is an important part of my life, she helps me with everything," Reid said.

"One of the things that's difficult to accept is what happiness for him looks like. For example, he doesn't socialize. He's happy by himself," Verna said.

One of the things Reid loves doing by himself is getting lost in music. 

"He has an insane ability in singing and artwork and he's been in the choir at Cathedral City High School," Verna said.

This past year, Verna took over as president of the choir's official booster organization.  It allows her to give back to the community that welcomed her son with open arms.

"I feel proud of her because she helps other kids who need to get ready, she helps me," Reid said.
    
And while her husband works long hours preparing to open the Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage. He says there's no one who works harder than Verna.
    
"She does all the heavy lifting as every mother does. That's the real full-time job in the world, it's the hardest job I've ever seen," Doug said.

A job that pays in love.

"Mom, you're the best mom a son could ever have I really really love you," Reid said.

"That's the one thing about autistic kids. He has no qualms about telling me he loves me and kissing me in front of his friends.  Whereas most kids want their parents to drop them off at the corner," Verna said.

A gift any mother would be proud to get on this Mother's Day.