My mother passed away last week. Publishing this piece is giving me a deep sense of closure and hope…


This is all about my mother and me.  About how, by simply following her path, she gave me the push I needed to blossom into my own attractively suitable version of a human being. My life has been swinging like a pendulum: from a shy and withdrawn child to her shy and withdrawn ways, I became a daring and bold young woman eager to conquer the world. I then wore the hat of good wife and mother – proud to be following in her footsteps-  only to emerge at the other side of the experience with an uncontrollable urge to find my own passion. 

My mom was born in 1925 and raised to leave the nest on the arm of a dashing lieutenant clad in army uniform. My parents loved each other. Deeply. My dad’s eyes showed pride and contentment. My mom’s glowed with mirth and excitement. Six children later, they had lost their sparkle between diapers and dirty dishes.  Every new birth delayed her own and her grand-children’s arrivals signaled the end of the dream she never even knew she had. More diapers, more dishes. She did not hear the invitation the universe sends us all sooner or later. She remained prisoner of her ways. Invisible chains of duty. She became my teacher.

I have heard the call of life beyond my children’s cries for more kisses and my husband’s requests for time alone with him. I have an appointment with myself, a precious date I’m not missing. I’m on a journey to find the joy I always sensed was there for the taking and that my mom, even though she loved me dearly, never showed me how to grasp. She surrounded the infant I was with care and attention but the special bond between us was soon tinted with discipline and self restraint. Yes, she told me to be polite in all circumstances. No, she never allowed me to speak up for myself and say ‘not now’, ‘I need’, ‘I want’. Yes, she taught me how to bake, set a nice table, and arrange hors d’oeuvres neatly on a platter. No, she never modeled how to bring laughter, warmth, and a hint of chaos into the house. Yet the unsaid’s secret life force has pushed me forward and brought me to this day. I have traveled in the dark, looked for new ways, and polished the rough stones of my spirit. Today I can speak of who I am and of what I want. What my mother never thought to look for I am finding out for the both of us, for my daughter, and for the next generations of women in our family.

When the silence that surrounded the end of her life threatens to pull me in I remember that it can also be a source of growth and comfort. I have the power to turn away from the picture of her sitting in her room, eyes lost in depression and regrets that she cannot voice. By choosing the cover of sadness and anguish she’s propelled me to face the ultimate challenge of happiness and trust. The soundlessness does not frighten me. I’ve learned to listen to its lessons. If to her it spoke of lost opportunities and past youth, to me, it talks of cherishing the present and climbing to new heights. And I know that my newfound hope will fill the void of all the words we never uttered and that her soul can now hear mine whisper: “ Maman, je t’aime, merci.”

Maryse G. Copans © 2010


15 thoughts on “A MOTHER’S LESSON

  1. Hi Maryse,
    Glad to hear that you are back and writing again. This is beautifully written and very insightful. We all learn so much from people close to us. I’m glad that you are processing your thoughts by writing them out. A very healing thing to do. May it give you peace as you deal with your loss. Much love, Linda Strickland

  2. I really admire you for being able to write a strong piece like this just a week after your mother passed away. You’re a true inspiration! I can’t imagine what a painful loss it must be but I’m so glad you feel the strength to go on with a renewed vision.
    Thinking of you.

  3. Maryse ~ “Bless and release” ~ a life lesson you described so gracefully here. May your days ahead be filled with wonder as though seeing everything brand new for the first time. Let the wonder fill your soul with peace…as it is now. Lovely post my friend. Cathy

  4. maryse – i’m so sorry to hear your sad news – please accept my heartfelt condolences – you have written a beautiful and poignant piece – an insightful tribute to your mother’s life and your future

    much love and peace to you and yours

    lotsa luv ann x0x0x0x

  5. What a beautiful post, tribute and lesson. This made me cry because I see that my own mother didn’t get what she wanted in life. Through her love and silent wishes, I’ve learned how to pursue my own wants.

    Hi Wifsie, It’s Bea from Twitter. 😀

  6. That is a beautiful way to follow the living rather than focusing on the death and dying. Maryse, going for life like you do, is honoring everybody’s choice and knowing where your power lies. Making life happen for you so you then make it happen for others. Martyrdom kills, your own spirit and that of others and that is so hard to see, but you saw it and that is courage. it is so easy to sweep what you see under that table, that is dishonor and disregard for life, yours and your mother’s. By seeing you choose life, the only thing that is worth choosing.
    Salut pour choisir la vie. xox Wilma

  7. Oh Maryse, how lovely! It took me back to the days after my mom passed on – 20 years ago. I think both of our mothers lived lives of quiet desperation, depression and yet taught us both there is so much more to it all! I watched her dust all her knick knacks almost daily with this sad frown on her face. Perhaps that is why I have NONE. We sometimes learn what not to do – all in all my mother, as did yours, left many lessons. It’s a beautiful thing.
    Hugs and love

  8. Maryse, What a beautiful post. My Mom passed away a year ago this month and I still miss her every day. She, like your Mom, never quite made it beyond the call of children and grandchildren. To be honest, I don’t even know what else she would have wanted and I’m not sure she did either. Sad.

  9. Remarkable essay, Maryse! I had much the same realizations when my mom passed away and I looked back on her life. I guess that what our moms didn’t teach us was a lesson unto itself. We learned how to fly regardless, and we’re stronger for it.

  10. Maryse, I am so very sorry to hear about your mom. Mine is still living, but I feel much the same. I love her, but wish she had known how to speak for herself and reach for what she truly wanted. Then to teach me the same through her actions.

    But our worlds are different now, are they not? A successful woman in the 50s/60s had a husband and children and an efficiently run household. These were the walls of her world.

    Our generation is able to see to the horizon and know our world is bounded only by the walls we erect ourselves.

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