Sunday, July 24, 2011

16359--"Maya" Means "Illusion"

She was born during WWII and quickly grew into a beautiful and intelligent young woman.  In the sixties, she made her mark in the American Civil Rights Movement and became the first person in her family to graduate from college.

She entered the business world, married and began a family of her own, raising it with loving care.  She continued to make time for her human rights work, helping those who needed assistance in bettering their situations in Life.

As she successfully handled her professional and personal activities, her altruistic pursuits also flourished.  A woman of effectiveness, she became sought after by those who needed her and gave of her time generously.  She has served her family, friends, church, community and her state tirelessly for decades. 

Following the death of her husband, hundreds of people flocked to her side in an outpouring of emotional support.  In the years following his death and her retirement from the business world, she has weathered her own health crises and continued to give of herself as a leader in multiple charitable organizations, civil rights organizations and in her personal relationships.

That's a thumbnail sketch of my mother.

Like her, there are a few things I'm passionate about in Life.  Otherwise, I'm usually pretty easy going and handle things with minimal stress.  One thing that'll raise my ire is people treating my family badly.  I'd like to think that's not too uncommonly held a position.  Thus, like a few neighbors with whom I no longer speak, I hold onto a grudge toward Maya Angelou.

Yes, that Maya Angelou.  "What?  But Phoenix, don't you know she's a beloved public figure and poet and blah blah blah?"  Save it.  I know who she's supposed to be.

I also know that this other civil rights activist, icon of women and minorities, etc. was invited to Indiana several years ago to be honored and awarded in a big public event organized by...RIGHT, my mother.  Fifteen years her junior and eager to host the poetry-spewing, honorary degree claiming, former prostitute, mom welcomed Angelou to join her onstage and speak before an applauding crowd.

Mom was sneered at.  That's right, I said sneered at.  Angelou treated her snobbishly, looked down her nose at her, refusing to speak until mom stepped off the stage.  Ms. "I listen to my people" thought she was too good to share the stage with my mother?  She dissed my mom?  Oh, Hell no!

Mom handled it gracefully, as is one of her great skills.  She's a practiced stateswoman.  Her loved ones present followed her lead.  I've kept silent on the matter for almost ten years now, but today Maya Angelou can suck it!

Happy Birthday, Mom.

Anyone else inclined to drop mom a happy birthday wish, leave a comment and I'll be happy to forward it along.  Thanks for stopping by.


  1. I'm proud of you Ben for standing up for your mom. She sounds amazing. You're right to be proud. Happy Birthday Mama!

  2. This one was sent in by T. Roberts:

    Phoenix, I was there, too, and I'm so proud that you remember this. I, too, have fought the fight and continue to tell the story of how my "Maya's Illusion" was shattered forever.

    I've never bought another book of hers since nor will I again.

  3. Thanks to T. and RachelintheOC for taking the time to comment. It's always appreciated.

  4. Yeah, to this day I still remember that evening. Whether she realized it or not, Maya was unquestionably rude to our mom. I don't hold a grudge. She's just dead to me.

  5. Worse than being treated that way is the disillusion of a celebrity held in high esteem.

    This isn't the first time I've heard of Miss Maya's snobbish ways.

    During school, I worked at The Broadmoor Hotel, a five-star, hoity-toity resort here in Colorado Springs. Met a lot of celebrities and stars there, and got a great education on how not to act when I'm rich and famous ;)

  6. Well, then it sounds like a good education. I have fond memories of Colorado Springs myself. Of course, most of mine involve the Hungry Bear restaurant up the mountain, but I make no apologies for my fondness for omelettes and pancakes.

    Of course, I don't run over anyone to get to my happy place.

    Unlike some people.