Before Women Had Wings

Today I flipped on the TV and came across a movie on OWN called Before Women Had Wings. It was a movie about two women who had lost their husbands and what life was like for them in the 50’s (I think). Interestingly enough I’ve also started watching Madmen on Netflix. Madmen is about men working at an advertising agency in the 60’s (I think) and the women in their lives; wives, mistresses and secretaries…most definitely another time “before women had wings”.

I love the imagery that comes to my mind of women with wings. Wings are powerful. Wings are designed to fit each bird’s body. Wings enable the bird to do what a bird is to do, fly, hover, dive, and soar for long distances. It’s just glorious to think of  people with wings…women, with wings. Me…with wings.

Warren Buffet says, “The womb we come from largely determines our fate.” He was born in the 30’s and knew well that the women of his generation had next to no opportunity comparable to a man’s at that time. He was also white and found that a great advantage as well. I tend to agree with Mr. Buffet. I know that my life has been greatly affected by the womb from which I emerged. I’ve thought about this for a long time.

Today, after this movie was over, Oprah came on for her Master’s Class and shared her own story. Her mother brought her into the world in the very racist state of Mississippi. She didn’t want to have a baby and was completely unattached to her when Oprah was born. Raised by her grandmother for the first six years of her life, she was suddenly without warning or explanation, taken to her mother’s home which was by this time in Michigan. When she arrived the decision was made that Oprah couldn’t be in the house and would therefore have to sleep on the porch. She was terrified of what was out in the darkness and survived it by creating the image of an angel by her side sent by God to watch over her. Oprah’s prospects grew more dim as she was raped multiple times. At 14 she got pregnant and was sent to live with her father, a man she’d never met.  Her baby was born and died but she, like her mother had felt no attachment to it at all. After it’s death, Oprah’s father told her she’d been given another chance. We all know she found a way to use that chance. Clearly the womb Oprah came from did not determine her fate in the end. If it did, it is certainly not the fate that one would have expected it to be. She said it took her until she was in her 40’s to completely heal from her broken and dismal childhood.

One of the things that Oprah did as a young girl before she was taken away to live with her mother was to recite the poem Invictus by  William Ernest Henley  during a church service at her grandmother’s Baptist church. She read the poem with the text floating behind her as she told this story.  As I read it on the screen, I was so amazed. Oprah’s life is truly a life of resilience. Her journey of flight has empowered millions to find their  own wings. Even those who say they don’t like her, have been affected by her. She is truly a change agent in the world.


Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

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