“You don’t say!”

Rhea Cote Robbins, the director of the Franco-American Women’s Institute,  put out a call for submissions in 2015 for “written/visual works seeks materials that are inclusive, encompassing, energetic and exemplary–realistic, fresh and mindful of how far we have come in our voices and visions as French heritage women… What are our legacies that we wish to pass on to the subsequent generations about who we are as a community of women?”

Heliotrope: French Heritage Women Create


I wondered about legacy. We inherit all kinds of things we want, don’t want, don’t need, in addition to the good and generous things found in bequests. My paternal grandmother was Acadian (and call her French-Canadian at your peril) and in considering her legacy to me, and in turn, what could I pass on to other women in the modern or future world about our heritage, was bittersweet churn.

I’m quite sure what I gained from memere and what I can share are not at all what she had in mind.

Mostly, I work with others to frame their personal stories and don’t make/have time to do the same for myself. Writing for this anthology–I was one of 130 contributors–made myself vulnerable in a way that can only increase my sensitivity and compassion for those who, through their truth and their work, are putting themselves out there for all to see.

The title of my essay–“You Don’t Say”–is a nod to what is not said or acknowledged until it becomes painful, but, hopefully, is said before it is too late. And, how what is said/not said can be sadly misinterpreted.

While I cringe at a sentence, wonder at my punctuation, and wish I had phrased this or that more clearly in the essay, I am glad to be a part of adding my voice to the Franco culture archives.

From the Heliotrope press kit:

SYNOPSIS~The Franco-American Women’s Institute, FAWI, is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2016. The Franco-American Women’s Institute promotes the contributions of the French heritage women’s lives—past, present, and future through its online presence and publishing their creativity. For FAWI’s 20th Anniversary, an anthology, Heliotrope—French Heritage Women Create, of written works and visual arts was published to mark the present, active, creative lives of the women of the French heritage culture. This anthology presents a snapshot of the French heritage women’s lives as they exist in the present. This anthology incorporates the lives of the women who make up this cultural heritage—in print and it offers to the present and future generations a vivid compilation of voices and visuals to express modern-day, French heritage women and their creative works. The anthology builds bridges of insight and understanding for all who read and view the works. Annie Proulx is featured as well as 130 other women of French heritage.

Contact: Rhea Côte Robbins, Editor & Director of the Franco – American Women’s Institute Brewer, Maine 04412



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