When I first heard the news of Maya Angelou’s passing, I was taken aback. Days before, it was noted on Angelou’s Facebook page a “medical emergency” caused her to miss the Major League Baseball Civil Rights Game ceremony in which she was an honoree. It hadn’t entered my mind that she may have been gravely ill as, in Mother Angelou’s spirited fashion, she ended her post with “I am each day better.”
See, even in a time of what may have been illness, she simply rejoiced in living, as it was a lifelong event for her despite her trials. It is with this reasoning that I couldn’t continue to weep for Dr. Angelou, but find comfort in knowing she’s truly lived her life to the fullest only to get what she’s been destined and WANTED to do in the end: meet her maker.
How gleeful is that?! I’m happy for her because being the praying woman that she is, she’s resting with God and her mother and grandmother. For that I can only rejoice with her, while reflecting on the full life she’s had.
In the days following her death, like I do with many public figures, I viewed specials, watched interviews to get to know her better. And what I learned is even in her 80s, Dr. Angelou as a teacher who has learned, was still learning. While admitting her strengths (she acknowledged her intelligence in varying aspects of life in a Super Soul Sunday interview with Oprah Winfrey), she in the same breath fearlessly admits her weaknesses: she doesn’t know everything - though she may not consider lacking in all areas a weakness, but an opportunity for growth.
As I watched the interviews and specials that aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network, one thing that stood out to me was Dr. Angelou’s consistency. Her thoughts on courage (it’s going to take baby steps, but we can get there), education (when you learn, teach) and prayer remained linear, not even varying in verbiage. Maya Angelou, a lover of words, or “things” as she called them, was indeed a woman of her word.
But perhaps what’s most comforting in examining Maya Angelou’s life is she hasn’t sought to emulate anyone, maybe study the examples set before her and heed mother and grandmother’s, but she set out to be the best MAYA ANGELOU that MAYA ANGELOU could be. Her outlook on self-love promotion is perhaps the best lesson anyone could learn from her.
Angelou’s funeral is May 7 at 10 a.m. at Wake Forest University. While seating is limited to family and friends, the university will stream the service for the public.