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A Phenomenal Treasure in Dr. Maya Angelou


Often times it is difficult to verbalize the hurt that you feel when someone you know and love dearly has passed. Trying to find the right words to convey the grief your heart entails at the death of a parent, grandparent, sibling—any relative or close friend.

I find it some what difficult to verbalize what it is my heart is feeling at the passing of Dr. Maya Angelou. Though she was not a relative or even a close friend; in my heart I felt a kindred spirit, a soul tie, a connection that goes beyond words, but can only be felt in the heart, and exists because God exists.

Dr. Maya Angelou transitioned this life into her final resting place on May 28, 2014. Reports say that the poet, author, activist, actor, and so much more peacefully passed at her home in North Carolina. She was 86 years young.

What can you say about a woman who had experienced and done so much in life, that for most would take two lifetimes to complete? From the moment I learned of Maya Angelou, I was intrigued. Her body of work captured my attention and garnered my heart. Her melodic way of speaking has been entrenched in my mind forever more. They way in which her words flowed with conviction and authority, that you seldom would challenge what she had spoken, taking it as the gospel's truth.

I fell in love with the woman, the teacher, the poet, the activist, the prolific writer. I aspired to write as she did: To convey from my soul the truth in my own words without inhibition or restriction. To be honest, writing my truth without fear of being exposed. She changed the way I saw literature. She help to change the way I saw myself. She inspired and motivated me, at a young age, to write fearlessly and without regrets.

The first time I ever heard the name, Maya Angelou, I was eight years old. I loved to read even back then. I was searching the library after reading all the suggested books for children, when I saw, “I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings”. It was tucked away in the adults section. It immediately grabbed my attention. I was used to reading at a higher grade level, thanks to my father whose bedtime stories included “The War of The Worlds”.

The title itself grabbed my attention, then her name: Maya Angelou. It had a nice ring to it, as it rolled off my tongue. I kept saying her name over and over again, as if it was something magical. I couldn't explain it then, and I'm not quite sure I can now, either. I've always been enchanted with the phonetics of a person's name.

It was a few years later that I would see the rebroadcasting of the television film, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. The movie had an impact on me also, but not as much as the book itself. Perhaps it is the writer in me that will always be drawn to a book before a movie.

In life, we may never know the full scope of the journey that we are on called life. We may not see the road(s) that lie ahead of us, or an easy way to navigate it. Yet, we can determine in our hearts to keep pushing forward, no matter what or who we may encounter; taking each experience as a lesson to add to our life's repertoire.

Our life is a composition that plays out with each passing day. With people coming and going, playing different roles. Some stay for the entire play, while others may be gone after the first act. But as the lead in our own story, we must determine if we are going to be fully engaged or bail under its pressures.

I admire the strength, fortitude, and character of Dr. Maya Angelou. Her life was a teachable moment for my own. Her experiences, and her honesty in sharing her good and bad moments; her high and low points—were all life lessons that many can gain from. Her prolific writings are shared with the world, in which one can gain so much. Every Maya Angelou quote makes you want to stop and think.

I celebrate the life of this phenomenal treasure. This gift that God shared with us for 86 years. Dr. Maya Angelou lives on through her legacy, and through every heart she has touched, including mine. I leave you with my favorite quote of hers...

“"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
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Content copyright © 2014 by Ruthe McDonald. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Ruthe McDonald. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Ruthe McDonald for details.

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