The Heroines

Esther Cohen Medvene

is honored with a Brick from Louis J. Medvene, Ph.D.

My mother Esther Cohen Medvene was a survivor. She survived the death of her mother when she was an infant, being passed around from one household to another during her first years of life, being in an orphanage, and becoming a member of a blended family when her father remarried when she was younger than five.

She survived the early traumas through the strength of her personality, through idealizing people she had never met as models for herself and others, through identifying with poets, artists, actresses, saints and humanitarians. She lived her life as if it were a great drama - with suffering, with laughter, with anger, love, hate, tears, joy, warmth, vitality and expressiveness. Her dramas were the dramas we lived through as a family: of love, hate, rivalries and admiration for family and friends. She was a mother of two and a housewife who constantly pushed herself and everyone in our family to various perfections: to achieve as much as we could individually, but to never hurt anyone in the process; to become wealthy, but never cheat or be dishonest; to become famous, but not be egotistical in the process.

She was a somewhat tortured woman who suffered from a need to see herself as perfect, as always acting out of the honorable intentions and desires. She was driven to be perfect as a mother - when, in fact, she had very human and flawed children - to be a good wife - when she was married to a man who wasn't as loving and demonstrative as she needed him to be - and to do meaningful and worthwhile work which would make a difference in the world - when she had no formal professional training or significant work experience.

She was a heroine because she survived early traumatic losses and pain, and went on to be a successful mother, wife and human being. She created a sense of vitality for everyone of us, and she gave meaning and direction to each of us in our lives. She was a heroine in the genuine sense of what she accomplished in her life and in being able to love and nourish each of the members of my family.

September 14, 1998