“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.” Maya Angelou.
For months I have been unable to reach my god-mother Blossie and grew worried that something awful had happened. At 95 years old, I noticed that over the course of the last year or so it began to take her longer than normal to answer her telephone. The once chipper voice that would shout my childhood nickname after I said hello into the receiver, became a chipper whisper. The warm laugh that would greet me after only 3 rings, began to take almost 15 rings. But, while I noticed the change, I understood it…she’s 95 for Pete’s sake!
But, 2 months or so ago, I stopped being able to reach my god-mother by phone completely. I would call in the early hours of the morning, and late in the evening, with no success. I would randomly drive by her apartment and find the lights off with no one home. Extremely concerned, I began working all my contacts to find her.
A few weeks ago, thankfully, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with my god-mother. After months of searching for her, a childhood friend told me that she was moved into a nursing home. Before the friend could get the full name of the nursing home out of her mouth, I hung up the phone and made plans for a visit the next day.
With my sister, childhood choir director, and grandmother in tow, we headed to my god-mother’s nursing home. As we entered the facility, my heart began to race as I wondered what condition we would find her in. In retrospect I realize that I probably should not have hung up the phone so quickly…but we have already covered my impatience. I digress. I had no idea why my god-mother was moved to a nursing home, or if she could recognize her friends and family. As childhood memories of her flashed through my mind, I wondered “what if she doesn’t remember me?” The very thought of that made me teary eyed. I don’t know what is going on with me lately, but I am crying about everything…but I digress.
Before I could go into a complete water show and breakdown, a voice behind the counter softly gave me my god-mother’s room number. She had seen me write my god-mother’s name on the sign-in sheet, and gave me the room before I could collect myself and ask. Arm and arm with my sister, we walked towards my god-mother’s room. As we rounded the corner with my grannie and our childhood choir director, my childhood choir director’s booming voice yelled, “MOTHER. I AM SO HAPPY WE FOUND YOU.” Confused, I abruptly turned around and glared at the woman she hugged. This woman, while very pretty, looked unfamiliar to me. I then turned to my sister and said “I thought her mother was long dead. Didn’t she go back with Moses and them?” Now, now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably thinking “good one! That was hilarious!!!” Well, thank you…I digress. As soon as the woman replied to my childhood choir director’s words, my heart melted and I was 7 years old.
My god-mother’s voice is soft and smooth like butter. Each word smoothly glides out of her mouth, and warms your heart in the process. The deep warmth and passion in her words immediately command your undivided attention. Imagine the depth of Della Reese’s voice marrying the pitch of Phylicia Rashad’s voice, and then being placed in a single person…PERFECTION. The voicebox carrying such a voice is SURELY the sweet little manger that rocked precious baby Jesus…GOLDEN!
The hairs on my arms stood up as my god-mother replied to my childhood choir director with a simple, “hi there.” On sheer instinct, I sprinted toward my god-mother and grabbed her. As I threw my arms around her, I cried and whispered “I’ve been trying to find you.” Immediately, she pulled back from my tight embraced and yelled my childhood nickname with a high pitch squeal. She also gave me her signature shimmy dance and said “you know I just celebrated my birthday and can still cut a rug at 95.”
Not wanting to disturb the other guests with our reunion, we headed to my god-mother’s room. Once there, she sat in her favorite chair that had been brought from her house for comfort. As she sat in her chair, my sister and I sat at her feet like we did as kids. On instinct, we began to sing a song we sang as children. See, as kids my sisters and I were apart of a music group that used to travel all around our city performing at churches. My god-mother was one of the first people to hear us sing…and realize we could. So, at that moment, as I sat on the cold linoleum floor at my god-mother’s feet, I was 7 years old singing to her.
“As I journey through the land, singing as I go. Pointing souls to Calvary through the crimson flow. Many arrows pierce my soul, from without within. But my Lord, he leads me on, through him I must win. Oh I want to see him, that look upon his face. There to sing forever, of his saving grace. On the streets of glory, let me lift my voice. Cares will pass, I’ll be home at last, ever to rejoice.”
As we sang, my god-mother rocked and tears rolled down her cheeks. She softly wiped them, continued to rock, and began to sing. After singing 3-4 rounds of the song, my god-mother said “it is so good to be remembered. To think that you would take time out of your busy life to find me means so much. You do good things in this world, not to be recognized, but to put more good people in it. You kids have always been good, and to know you looked for me I can’t explain how I feel.” I jumped up, wrapped my arms around her, and softly whispered in her ear “I love you so much. There is no corner of this world I won’t search to find you. I will ALWAYS come for you! ALWAYS.”
Peeps, I gotta say, Maya Angelou was a wise woman. As long as I live, I will never forget how my god-mother has made me feel. When I have found myself afraid, she has made me feel safe. When I’ve felt ignored, she has made me feel appreciated, respected, and important. When I’ve felt unsure, her warm hand on my back and soft calm tone has provided reassurance. Because of that, remembering her is the LEAST I can do.
One of the greatest things we can do for this world, especially at a time like this, is to put more great people in it. A second thing we can do is to remind the great people currently here of their generous contribution to this world. Often times we spend our lives working to accumulate things or wealth, but forget about what we will leave behind once gone. See, the things you accumulate once you leave this world, will not come with you. But, the contributions you make to the world will remain, once you are dead and gone. Live a life so people fondly remember you.