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Maja Block – A Fond Farewell

March 10, 2015
by

With a sad heart, we must report the death of one of our earliest members, Maja Block.
The following is a letter from her son Kevin, to all of Maja’s friends and fellow birders.
She will be dearly missed.          [Lillian and Mary]
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March 1, 2015
Dear Friends, family and loved ones:

It is with great sadness that I am letting you know of the passing of our amazing mother.

Maya, Mark and Kevin

Maya, Mark and Kevin

My mother passed peacefully as the sun was just rising on the horizon on the morning of Wednesday, February 18. My sister and I were with her, throughout the night, holding her hands and she knew she was loved and not alone as she made her transition.

The last few years had been difficult for her as she could no longer do many of the things that she loved to do like hike, watch birds and visit with her many dear friends across the United States and the world. If you are receiving this letter, it is because you knew her and knew what an extraordinary woman she was. Political activist, survivor, naturalist, gardener and cook, singer and dancer, poet and artist, adventurer and intrepid explorer. She was independent, kind, warm and funny. To be her friend was to know that you were loved and cared for in the most thoughtful way. She loved to sing and cook and share her fruit from her garden with her friends. She loved a good laugh and was always up for an adventure. She taught me to have a deep and abiding reverence for this beautiful world.

To be her son was a gift and a privilege, as she was always, always there for me during the hard times and I was lucky enough to be able to return the favor with the help of my partner, Mark Gregg who took such good care of her and whom she considered to be her other son. In 2012 my sister and her husband joined us here on Maui, so my mother had her kids near her, which was a source of comfort to her.

My mother was practical about life and ultimately about death. She did not want to be fussed over so we ask that you remember her in your own special way, as you hike in the mountains, see a hawk spiraling lazily upward, see a particularly beautiful sunrise or have a bracing German beer with some weiswurst.

Memorial Gifts and Memorial:
Those who wish to memorialize her with a gift are asked to send a donation to the Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society in her name:

SMBAS
PO Box 35
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

My mother had a rich, complicated, deep and fascinating life and it would take volumes to just begin to scratch the surface of her story. The extraordinary journey of her life began in Southern Germany in the town of Heidelberg and then later, in her teenage years, in Munich. She survived the bombings of the war and the famine that followed and has many wonderful stories of hiking in the Alps, teaching kindergarten and the closeness that her sister and her parents shared as they helped each other to survive this difficult time.

Maya

Maya

My mother came to the U.S. in 1952 and went to Berkeley and became a nurse, which she always described as a “calling” rather than a profession. She was married to my dad for fifteen years and my sister and I came into the picture in 1964 and 1965. She was a tireless, supportive, caring, and ferociously committed mom. My sister and I are well aware of how lucky we are to have had her as a role model. My mother served honorably as a school nurse and was a dedicated, hard worker. Her work ethic was a source of awe for those of us who tried to keep up with her. Later in her life, her love of nature blossomed. She particularly loved birds and loved traveling the world in search of new species. She went to Africa, all over the United States and spent her 70th birthday in Antarctica where she had a spiritual experience, alone on the deck of the ship with a passing iceberg.

Even though she traveled the world, my mother felt most at home in her comfortable, small house in LA with its beautiful garden and shockingly prodigious persimmons tree. It was there that she was truly in her element, taking care of my dog Alex, working on her tomatoes and roses and baking for her friends. And singing. Always singing.

Maja & Kevin birding

Maja & Kevin birding

In 2009, my mother had aortic valve replacement surgery and suffered a stroke that paralyzed her on the left side. She never was able to walk again. My partner and my sister and I and our many friends here on Maui gave her a quiet and quality life and she enjoyed being with us and our animals. Despite her sadness about the failing of her body, my mother remained gentle and kind and sweet and gracious. She was also stubborn and opinionated and strong willed, but we loved that about her too. I can confidently say that all the best parts of me come from my mother.

We all have such wonderful memories of my mother and I urge you to reflect on her special way of living in the world. Her life was a hard one but you would never have known it from her graceful and gentle nature. Take a moment to think how you can incorporate her love of nature, her laughter and her joy into your day and know that each of you were special to her – her beloved friends and family.

I once asked my mom what she thought happens when you die and she told me that she imagined herself flying over the frozen mountains of some northern landscape, with icy fields and pine forests below, the snow glistening in the moonlight. She flies now effortlessly, no longer in pain and free at last.

Our famous leucistic Anna's Hummingbird (M.Block)

Maja’s famous photo of a leucistic Anna’s Hummingbird
(Kern County Park near Pine Mtn. Club)

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2 Comments
  1. ethanski permalink
    March 30, 2015 7:50 am

    Nice letter. Nice lady.

    Sent from my iPhone: No puppies or trees were harmed by sending this e-mail. Print only if necessary. ….and have a marvelous day!

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  2. Connie permalink
    March 10, 2015 5:00 pm

    Thank you so much for sending this. It’s comforting to know that she passed peacefully. I’m forwarding this to some of her UCLA friends.

    Connie

    Sent from my iPhone

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