Esther Blanche Gross died on December 19, 1989, at the age of 82. This letter was found among her papers.
Mother’s Day 1981
What can one give a mother who “needs” nothing? The search for an appropriate gift for you has long since been doomed to failure. So perhaps this letter may substitute for a thing.
All your high intelligence, talent, and energy, and they were substantial, you invested in your family: Daddy, Irwin, and me. You had no great career as a lawyer or teacher, your words have not been published in heavy tomes. Yet your work will live in memory, because you were a very good mother. In a time when many mothers stifled their children, taught them false values, imbued them with insecurity, you somehow managed, without the help of Dr. Spock or a strong example in your own mother, to produce two intelligent productive, functioning adults.
When other mothers were deprecating their daughters’ minds, you taught me that I could think for myself. When other mothers were teaching their daughters that a “good” marriage depended on money and prestige, you taught me only to marry someone of quality whom I loved. When other mothers were teaching their daughters that women are somehow physically weak because they are women, you taught me that being a woman, menstruating, having children and breast feeding them signify health and strength. When other mothers’ daughters were taught to be dependent and cling to someone else, you taught me self-sufficiency, so that I can face the world with my head held high. When other mothers taught their daughters to sit silently in a corner or on a pedestal, you taught me to speak out and stride into the world as an independent person.
For these and countless other lessons of value that you taught me, I am not only grateful but I shall keep your influence with me long after you are gone, and I shall in turn teach your lessons to my children and they shall teach their children, and in that way you shall earn immortality.
Your loving daughter,