“Frequently, I have been asked how I got to be this way. How did I, born black in a white country, poor in a society where wealth is adored and sought after at all costs, female in an environment where only large ships and some engines are described favourably by using the female pronoun – how did I get to be Maya Angelou? …I knew that I had become the woman I am because of the grandmother I loved and the mother I came to adore.”

Mom_&_Me_&_Mom_coverThis morning I reread Maya Angelou’s last book: Mom & Me & Mom. At crucial junctions in her life, her mother, Vivian Baxter, was there for her. When Maya got beaten up to almost an inch of her life, her mother rescued her! Although her mother abandoned her as a child she made up for it when Maya became a young woman by telling her the things she needed to hear, and being a woman of such strength and passion that Maya became the Icon she was. Maya stated that her mother’s protective love made people sense that she had value.

When she was twenty two her mother told her:

“Baby, I’ve been thinking and now I am sure. You are the greatest woman I’ve ever met… You are kind and very intelligent and those elements are not always found together. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, yes, you belong in that category”

That day, Maya thought, “Imagine I might really become somebody. Some day.”

And so she did!!!

Here are a few more excerpts from the book:

“Love heals. Heals and liberates. I use the word, love, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions and that which causes the blood to flow orderly in our veins.”

“She said, ‘Maya, you disapprove of me because I am not like your grandmother. That’s true. I am not… When you go to school, the teacher will smile at you and you will smile back. Students you don’t even know will smile and you will smile. I am your mother. If you can force one smile on your face for strangers, do it for me. I promise I will appreciate it.’ …That day, I learned that I could be a giver simply by bringing a smile to another person. The ensuing years have taught me that a kind word or a vote of support can be a charitable gift. I can move over and make another place for another to sit. I can turn my music up if it pleases, or down if it is annoying. I may never be known as a philanthropist, but I certainly want to be known as charitable.”

“The only way you can be taken advantage of is if you think you can get something for nothing.”

“Remember this: Your reputation is the most important thing you’ll ever have. Not clothes, nor money, not the big cars you may drive. If your reputation is good, you can achieve anything you want in the world.”

“She said, ‘So you got the job… What did you learn about yourself?’
I said, ‘I learned that I am not afraid to work, and that’s about all.’
She said, ‘No, you learned that you have power – power and determination… With those two things, you can go anywhere and everywhere.'” (Maya and her mother in conversation, after she became the first African American to work on the railway.)

“Do right. Don’t let anybody raise you from the way you have been raised. Know you will always have to make adaptations, in love relationships, in friends, in society, in work, but don’t let anybody change your mind.”

“Tired don’t mean lazy and every goodbye ain’t gone.”

“Don’t take tea for the fever. You are your own woman.”

“My mother’s gifts of courage to me were both large and small. The latter are woven so subtly into the fabric of my psyche that I can hardly distinguish where she stops and I begin… Now in my eighties, I plan to continue to be like her when I reach my nineties, and beyond, if I’m lucky.”

http://kentakepage.com/author/maya-angelou/

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