A Victorian-Era Mother’s Day Card, 1898

So, anyways, about the inheritance

So, anyways, about the inheritance

Dearest Mother,

On this day, of all days, it is important that I show my appreciation towards you. After all, without this “Mother’s Day,” I would have probably forgotten you exist thanks to the fume poisoning.

“Fume Poisoning” was believed to be a colic that affected factory workers who breathed in too many fumes on the job. It is now known to be nothing more than slow, painful carbon monoxide poisoning.

I wish you the very best on this day for Mothers. I heartily congratulate you on achieving the absolute pinnacle of womanhood, giving birth to a healthy son. And though you have given birth to my two lesser sisters, I am sure they will soon climb the very same peaks.

Cavanaugh’s sisters were 14 and 9 at the time of writing.

Yes, it is the mothers of this country that strengthen us. For I can think of no better purpose a woman could have than making sure the men in their lives are accomplished and pure of heart.

The much-admired Dr. Albert Stangeworthe had recently published his famous tome “Womanhood: What’s the Point?” This collection of essays and musings outlined Stangeworthe’s then-mainstream opinion that a woman’s most important function in society was preventing masturbation, followed by praying with cleaner hands than men, followed by motherhood.

And so, on this day, I honor you, Mother. Thank you for giving me life, and thank you for burning my hands with scalding water when you caught me being impure. I wouldn’t be the same without you.

Your devoted son,

Jeremiah Cavanaugh


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