Saturday, June 7, 2014

Molly's Turn: Remembering Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Remembering Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is the one single person in my life who, with one conversation, has had the most significant and powerful effect on my life.

I was a child of about 12 when I met Maya Angelou.
She came to our home for dinner. My father and Maya were collaborating on a project for KQED, the San Francisco based PBS station for which my father, Robert Hagopian, worked for from the late 1950's until 1974.

I remember greeting this tall regal woman as she arrived at the top of our stairs, my mother introducing her to me. She looked down from her tall height and said to me in a deep voice – “You must call me Auntie Maya”.
I was very confused by this and followed my mother into her bedroom to ask why I had to call her Auntie Maya.  My mother explained that for some people this was a term of respect. 

I went into the living room and sat down on our couch to read. Being the only child of two artists I was used to being in a room where I was not seen. By this I mean I grew up around creative adults who were very expressive with their peers- but children didn’t really seem like people to them. At least this is the way it felt to me as a child. 

So you can imagine my surprise when “Auntie Maya” came over and sat down on the couch next to me.  She looked at me with her very penetrating gaze and asked what I was reading. I remember looking into her eyes as she asked me about myself, who I was, what I was interested in. I had never had an adult truly interested in me before. She listened with full attention as I answered her questions. She treated me with focused kindness and respect, something I became completely aware of as I talked with her. 

This conversation with Maya Angelou has made a life long impact on my life. I realized that I too wanted to treat everyone I met with respect, to listen to them and hear them, to treat every human being I meet with kindness.  I try to do this every day, I meet many wonderful people for whom I am grateful, and I also met many people whom I may not want to know, but I have learned from Maya Angelou to give them the kindness and respect that you give to any human being, and for the people you don’t want to know, just gracefully walk away.

Her impact on my life was very powerful.  As it seems it was on many, many, people. We were so very blessed to have had her in our lifetime.  

Quote by Maya Angelou

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