Mother’s Day Letter

Esther Blanche Gross died on December 19, 1989, at the age of 82. This letter was found among her papers.

Mother’s Day 1981

Dear Mom,

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,

Phyllis Mindell


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