I am honored to call Maxine Hong Kingston my friend. Not because she has received awards from two presidents (National Humanities Medal in 1997 by President Clinton, and National Medal of Arts in 2013 by President Obama). Not because her memoir Woman Warrior is the most commonly taught text in modern university education. Not because she has been married to the same man for over fifty years, has a handsome son and a beautiful home in the Oakland hills. It’s because each time I spend time with her, I feel so much lighter and happier! We laugh, we tell stories and jokes, and truly connect.
I wish everyone could have a Maxine in their lives!
Of course, who could not resist laughing when with Earll. Although he has described Maxine as cute and feisty (when they first met), I think he may have also been describing himself. 🙂 I took these photos of them a few weeks ago. The California light was shining brightly in their home that day! The photo below includes Norm, her younger brother, and John, her biographer. They were all impressed with my selfie skills.
Another wise woman in my life is Mary-Ann Milford (above in white in front of her Mill Valley home, that has a garden resembling a small botanical garden, hence the plant clipping in my hand). Mary-Ann is a Professor of Asian Art History at Mills College, and was also the Provost and Dean of the Faculty for five years. A gifted teacher, she got me so excited about Asian Art History I took every class that was offered on the subject, while working as the Treasury Analyst at the college. She then suggested I join the docent training program at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, which I did. Luck had it that I would meet my future husband, Brian, who was the Director of Education at the museum, and oversaw the docent program. Three years of training, and seven years of giving tours, it was a big part of my life, and I have Mary-Ann to thank for the enriching experience, and for leading me to my life with Brian! 🙂
And finally, my Auntie Rosalyn is the third wise women I’d like to write about. She turned ninety this year, and is still an active fund raiser and community organizer. Her mission is to end poverty, and if she had ninety more years I bet she could. The day before we met at her home, she organized a sit-in of 100 senior citizens at the San Mateo City Hall, and succeeded in lowering the rent of a Senior Citizen’s Center to $1 (from $25,000, not bad!). She and Uncle Carlson (seen in the photo she is holding) were dear friends of my parents, and I have known her my entire life. I remember her as a big boss at her architecture firm, and she remembers me as a baby in the bathtub. 🙂
Are there wise and wonderful women in your life? If so, I’d love to hear your stories about them!