Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Mr. Rogers!

Mar. 20, 2011
Dear Mr. Rogers,
I think everyone, no matter who you are--your age, your gender--could learn a lot from you. You were a teacher, a minister, a songwriter, a television host, a husband, a father.

You said that the reason you started a television show for children was because you didn’t like television. Instead of complaining, you did something about it.

From the time I was a year old, until I was 5, I lived in Pittsburgh, PA. You were on Public Television there. My sisters and I watched you on a show called “The Children’s Corner” where you were a puppeteer. Later, my family moved to New Mexico and then southern California. My brothers and sisters and I continued to watch you. We enjoyed watching you come home, take off your shoes and change into your sneakers and cardigan, while singing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.”

You were kind and caring and genuine. It was not an act. It was real.

According to a TV Guide story, you drove an old Impala for years. One day, however, the car was stolen from the street near your TV station. When you filed a police report, the story was picked up by every newspaper, radio and media outlet around town. Amazingly, within 48 hours the car was left in the exact spot where it was taken from, with an apology on the dashboard. It read, “If we’d known it was yours, we never would have taken it.”

Your daily routine for years was waking up at 5, praying, studying, writing, making calls and reaching out to every fan who took the time to write you. You’d also go for a morning swim. Each day you weighed yourself and each day you weighed exactly 143 pounds for the last 30 years of your life.  You didn’t smoke, didn’t drink. You were a vegetarian and extremely disciplined. Why did you weigh exactly 143? It was your favorite number. You said: “the number 143 means ‘I love you.’ It takes one letter to say ‘I’ and 4 letters to say ‘love’ and 3 letters to say ‘you.’ One hundred and forty-three.”

Many of the characters were named after family members. Queen Sara was named after your wife, (who you were married to for 51 years), the postman Mr. McFeely was named for your maternal grandfather. And every one of the cardigans you wore on your show, where hand-knit by your mother.

You said once: "Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me.”
And that’s what you were, Mr. Rogers. When you left us in 2003, we lost one of our heroes. Thank you for your life, example and legacy.
Today would have been your 83rd birthday.
Regards, Mrs Love

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