For the first time in many years I won’t be seeing my mother this Mother’s Day. She’s flying to London to join other collectors of antique spectacles who share her intense interest in this unusual (okay, weird) subject. My mother is the smartest and hardest working woman I know. When she was in her teens she looked like Olivia DeHavilland. When she was in her twenties and thirties she looked like Audrey Hepburn. Now in her seventies she is still remarkably striking, with huge eyes, eternal elegance and great clothes. She wears L’Air du Temps cologne and prefers tulips to roses. Normally, I’d send her flowers for Mother’s Day, but this year I’m taking the opportunity to write her a letter. I hope she reads it and understands how much I truly value her.

Dear Mom,

There is a lot I am thankful for on this Mother’s Day as I celebrate my relationship with my own children. But most of all I am thankful for you. In case you don’t know it, here are a few things I most appreciate:

1) Rubbing alcohol on me every time I had a fever.

2) Making me cinnamon toast on cold winter mornings.

3) Hemming my skirts.

4) Knitting me cable knit sweaters.

5) Constructing a Tin Woodsman costume out of aluminum foil when I didn’t get the part of Dorothy in the second grade production, and then doing an on-the-spot repair when it tore in front of the whole audience.

6) Reading the first three Mary Poppins books to me, until I could read the fourth one by myself.

7) Teaching me how to make the best noodle kugel in the world.

8) Teaching me how to cook an artichoke.

9) Teaching me how to eat an artichoke.

10) Showing me by your example that it was possible to work full time and be a good mother.

11) Showing me by your example how to love and raise children who are not your own.

12) Showing me by your example that even after divorce I could rebuild my life.

13) Trying to teach me how to speak French and play tennis, even though I never could.

14) Teaching me how to pretend I could speak French anyway. Too bad it didn’t work for tennis.

15) Making me take piano lessons.

16) Making me go to Hebrew School.

17) Making me wear deodorant.

18) Making me wipe that makeup off my face when I was too young to wear it.

19) Making me wipe that makeup off my face when I was old enough to wear it.

20) Making gefilte fish from scratch for the Passover seder and sticking toothpicks in every piece with printed labels that said, “Handmade by Ruth

21) Taking me out to a coffee shop for breakfast and making it feel like the most special date in the world.

22) Telling me stories about your life.

23) Showing me how to make a bed, set a proper table, and which fork to use.

24) Teaching me good manners.

25) Standing up for me when I was right.

26) Punishing me when I was wrong.

27) Paying for college.

28) Teaching me that kindness is the best manner of all.

29) Raising me in Manhattan.

30) Visiting me when I moved to California.

31) Not saying “I told you so” when I complained about missing New York.

32) Saving the ceramic vase I made you in fifth grade and displaying it with all your fine china.

33) Reading everything I ever wrote.

34) Watching all my television shows.

35) Making me truly believe I could be anything I ever wanted to be.

36) Being as good to my own daughter as you were to me.

37) Giving me your silver.

38) Giving me your blessings.

39) Giving me your love and support.

40) Giving me life.

I’m sure there are many other gifts I’ve forgotten, and my promise to you on this Mother’s Day is to try to remember to thank you more often. You were and continue to be a wonderful mother, and I will forever be grateful for everything you’ve done for me. I love you.

A note from Sara Esther Crispe:

When I read Jessica's letter to her mother, I was struck by the fact that there were 40 items in her list. I wondered if Jessica had chosen this number intentionally. She told me however that it was pure "accident."

But she and I both know in our hearts that there are no true accidents.

Here's what made us both shiver and smile:

Forty is the numerical value of the letter Mem in the Hebrew alphabet. Kabbalah teaches that this letter represents motherhood and the womb. The final version of the letter mem even looks like a womb. And it's no coincidence that a baby’s first utterances in almost any language begin with the letter Mem-- (to name a few, Spanish, mama, Frech: mere, Germana: mutter, Hindi: maja, Urdu: ammee, Italian: madre, Dutch: moer, and obviously in English: ma ma, mommy, mother) .

Many of you may have difficult relationships with your mothers. Your mothers may be near you, or long gone. Jessica told me she was inspired to write this piece after she said the Yizkor prayer, the prayer for the dead, in synagogue for her father, her stepmother, and her stepfather. She found herself overwhelmed with gratefulness that her mother is still very much alive.

She told me, "In the interest of honoring my my mother, I decided to see what would happen if --- for just a moment — I focused on only the good. And I sat down and began to list everything precious gift my mother had given me. They came out in exactly this order. Stream of consciousness, just letting my mind wander to what I liked best about how my mom parented (parents) me."

Try it yourself. You may be amazed by what you remember, by what little things turn into big things in your heart.

Then send the list to your mother. And if she's not around to receive it personally, feel free to send it here and share it with others. In this world or the world beyond, perhaps your own mother will react as Jessica's did, when she told her it was the best gift she'd ever received.