“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.”
So very fitting that she spoke those words – so many people could say they will never forget Maya Angelou because of how she made them feel.
The first time I saw her speak was with DJ. We braved the rainy weather and drove through rush hour traffic to Salem – ending up not having time for dinner beforehand due to the craziness of the drive – and sat in an auditorium unsure what to expect. “An Evening with Maya Angelou” – what did that mean?
She came out singing, and her energy, her peace, her emotions filled that place. This elderly woman who was a wisp of a woman she was when I got to know her – was holding court – telling us stories, singing songs, and truly making us feel like her children – at grandmother’s feet. And we all felt loved and appreciated in a way that was surprising.
Leaving that event, DJ looked at me with big eyes and a huge smile – and was like “wow – she is an amazing women.” Later, when it turned out a classmate when there, she told me how the classmate found her boring and the event meaningless. DJ was like “are you kidding me? she was incredible – you didn’t listen to one of the most important women – African American women – of our time?” Yeah, DJ got it.
The second time, G and I went to see her speak a the local concert hall that seats 2700+ people when sold out. It was sold out. I wondered in such a huge venue – could she weave that same magic?
She spoke, she sang, she told stories. She filled that huge venue with her energy in a way you could feel it.
And you found yourself feeling like you were sitting at the feet of your grandmother – she was looking down at you with love and affection and true appreciation. She would call us her children. Everyone was “her children” regardless of blood. When she said “we are all brothers and sisters”, you felt those words in your bones as truth – not simply words being spoken during an oration.
You left feeling like her child – feeling wiser for her words – having laughed with her and cried – you felt better having been in her presence.
The world lost an amazing woman. I guess we can only all hope to take a bit of her lessons with us forward – and be rainbows in someone else’s clouds as she was to so many.
Rest in peace.