We at the Health in Aging Foundation are saddened by the loss of Maya Angelou today. In 2002, we presented Ms. Angelou with the Lifetime of Caring Award for her embodiment of graceful aging. It was a festive occasion that included Ms. Angelou charming the crowd with a few lines of “This Little Light of Mine” and leading a standing ovation for the Girls Choir of Harlem. In her remarks she reminded us to live a full, rich life and not take its everyday gifts for granted. She closed with a few lines from her poem, On Aging.
When you see me sitting quietly, like a sack upon a shelf,
Don’t think I need your chattering. I’m listening to myself.
Hold! Stop! Don’t pity me! Hold! Stop your sympathy!
Understanding if you got it, otherwise I’ll do without it!
When my bones are stiff and aching and my feet won’t climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor: Don’t bring me no rocking chair.
When you see me walking, stumbling, don’t study and get it wrong.
‘Cause tired don’t mean lazy and every goodbye ain’t gone.
I’m the same person I was back then, a little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind.
But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.