A Great Soul

When Great Trees Fall
Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance, fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of
dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

My grandpapa, Aime, was the greatest soul there ever was. And his great soul left this earth, on May 14. He is once again with my grandmama Laureanne, who passed away in 2005.


Was there anyone in your life that you were convinced was going to live forever? To me, that was my grandpapa. He seemed larger than life, but at the same time had the kindest soul and the best sense of humor. He loved to tell jokes, and when he spoke to you, he’d wrap his hands around your cheeks and you could tell that he was so happy to just be in your presence. He appreciated life and the family that surrounded him.

He grew up in Maine and retired in Florida. He was 100% French Canadian and started learning English when he was in high school. He and my grandmama were high school sweethearts and raised their three children in Bangor. He loved classical music, playing the trumpet (he inspired and encouraged my playing the trumpet in high school) and piano, and even conducted multiple bands and orchestras throughout his career. He was a beloved music teacher in Bangor, and I truly believe that every person he interacted with was a better person for having known him. He adored his grandchildren and great-grandchildren; life was always something to be celebrated.

grandpapaFour Generations

Eleanor & GrandpapaFlorida 2015

As much as I will miss him and wish that we had more time together, I am so blessed to have so many memories that I can look back on. And once it is safe to do so, I look forward to getting together with my family to celebrate his life. I remember him saying (after grandmama passed away) that when it was his time to leave us, he wanted us to remember him with fondness and laughter. That we shouldn’t cry that he’s gone, but to laugh and smile that we were so fortunate to have him as a part of our lives. And I know that he will continue to be a part of our lives, as he will always live in our hearts. ❤


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