Bob’s photo of the pelican captures the moment when the bird leaves Earth for some place higher.
MAYA ANGELOU: THIS BIRD HAS FLOWN HOME
When I read the news of Maya Angelou’s passing last week, I started to cry. Although I was sad, I hadn’t even cried at my own mother’s death. I began to analyze what touched me so much now. Was it words she might still have written? Was it the words she had left behind? Was it her grandmother-like embrace of the world that I felt was forever gone?
I reflected on my own maternal grandmother. There are no replacements for wise old grandmothers, at least not the ones that weave love into the discipline and disappointments that life gives them. My grandmother kept a family together during the challenges of the Great Depression, made my growing up more pleasant, and ignored her “terminal” cancer for almost forty years. Maya Angelou and my grandma, Ethel Lucille Potter, were two beyond-strong, super women.
The autobiography of Maya Angelou is beautifully expressed in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Her self-imposed silence lasting for years, following her childhood rape, was an unnecessary punishment for the murder of her violator. Silence in a social setting can be a slow form of suicide. It can also lead to an epiphany from the dark night of the soul.
Maya Angelou definitely had epiphanies throughout her difficult life. There were strong lessons of survival. But to transcend survival mode, a person needs to balance life’s blows with beauty and compassion to be found and fostered. She had a definite gift for that, which she willingly shared in her words and actions with others.
I said to a friend after Angelou’s death that the main reason I felt so sad was that there was a hole that no one could fill. My wise friend reminded me that there are many undiscovered or little known people like Maya Angelou all over the world. Perhaps they are even in their silent mode and are just waiting for the right time to speak.
I am hopeful my friend is correct. I like to think that our beloved grandmas leave a nest of words for our eggs … eggs that will hatch into fledglings, never to be in a cage, always to have something to sing.