I was taken off guard a bit today when I broke from the hectic stress of the day to notice something special on social media. Taken so off guard, in fact, I needed to close the door from the outside world so I could sit and embrace this wonderful trailer for an upcoming documentary about a person very dear to my heart. I don't know how or why it happens, but this man has the ability to make me well up almost instantly and I am not afraid to admit it. The purity, wisdom and love he taught generations is immeasurable and I am not sure we will see someone like that on TV again but one thing is for sure, we could use a Fred McFreely Rogers today.
The TV show, Mister Rogers Neighborhood, broke so many barriers and Fred was able to do it through gentle words, sweet songs and simple honest dialogue. No topic was too tough because he approached it in a way children could process because he was so trusted. Whether it was tragedy on the news, divorce or even death, you felt comforted in knowing that yes, there are bad things out there, but there is so much good as well and that is where we should look. No matter what we looked like, color of our skin, disability we have or where we came from, we were his neighbor and he liked us just the way we were.
I watched Mr. Rogers often in my early years when it aired on PBS. I still remember the puppets with the obvious silly voices he used and his field trips to see how trumpets are made but the episodes I remember the most were the ones about how we are all different. Back then I was the sickly kid in school who had an allergy to most everything and a mom who wanted everyone to know about it. In the milk line, I was the one who had to get apple juice and when it was some kid's birthday and they brought certain cupcakes that I could, I don't know, turn inside out and explode from, I just sat out. Things like that seem so small in comparison to what a lot of kids have to deal with but in my little world, it made me feel pretty blue.
Watching Mr. Roger's and sining along with the songs back then helped me realize that it's okay to have something different about you. In fact, thats's what makes you..you! Seems so sophomoric or even elementary to write that as a 40 year old but the simple lessons he shared made standing in line for that tin-capped cup of juice a whole lot easier.
The ending of his final episode says so much about Fred Rogers and his legacy especially the song "I'm Proud of You" which is such a wonderful gift to leave behind. It hurts my heart to think some kids watching back then may have been told this for the first time but it gives me hope as well because he truly meant it. It's so important kids feel good about themselves and no one helped bring that message to light more than he did.
I didn't mean for this to turn into a mini tribute but I think seeing the long awaited documentary trailer today brought me back to remember the lessons we learned from such a gentle soul. There is so much ugliness in the world today and how we treat one another. We see it on the news, TV, in our politicians, schools and even that quick ten second glance on our phones which can make a kind person say horrible things to someone they do not even know. We need a person like Fred Rogers in our lives because I believe his simple words and gestures like, "You've made this day a special day and I'm glad you're here" can change someone's day or perhaps life. Everyone has something special about them and it just takes moment to see that.
We can't have him back but we can carry on the message. I'll do so now by saying, I like you. I do! And I like you just the way you are.
Thanks for reading!