Maya Angelou is one of my totem people. I have long turned to her for assuredness and confirmation life has meaning when I begin to fear it doesn’t.
UMass Amherst in the 80s was the first and only time I saw Dr. Angelou in person. As a student I was an usher for the Fine Arts Center. She performed there my junior year, after my mom died. I was aware of Dr. Angelou’s work because my mom read her book, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.’ https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13214.I_Know_Why_the_Caged_Bird_Sings I read it because she did because growing up my mom was my ground.
When Maya Angelou strode on stage I witnessed powerful personal possession for the first time. I had never seen a person glow. Her voice rolled forth like sweet and solid thunder – though she rarely raised it beyond conversational. Recently I watched a video of her explaining that she always walked on stage with her people surrounding her – everyone who had ever been kind or supportive she invited to join with her. She was never alone.
In 2008 Angelou published her book, ‘Letter to My Daughter.’ https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4016515-letter-to-my-daughter She never gave birth to a daughter. She gave birth to only one son whom she clearly adored. I adore my children and yet there is something yet grown in me that reached something nearing full fruition in Maya Angelou. Her grandmother raised her full heartedly until she was 13, then dropped her off in California with her mother, who welcomed her thirteen year old daughter with a clear, confident, present, matter-of-fact love. Angelou had her mother in her life well into her fifties. Though Angelou had no daughter, she considered many women in her life to be her ‘daughters’. I found myself yearning to be one of them. Reading on in her book Angelou essentially offers that to any so inclined.
And I found myself crying – yearning to belong to one you feel you mean the world to – and I found myself yearning for that with my own daughter – and my other children. I never wanted my kids to hurt the way I hurt when my mom died – that heartbreak felt too big to bear. And yet I bore it. And there is great loss in protection. And so I yearn to love the way I loved when I was young. No holds barred. No thought to consequences – to love for Love’s sake.
For Love’s sake, love.