What Would Fred Rogers Think?

I just got through watching A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which is a movie that isn’t so much about Fred Rogers as it is about how he gently and subtly influenced the life of someone else by example. I highly recommend this movie. Tom Hanks really channeled Mr. Rogers.

I have written before about how Fred Rogers was the closest thing I ever had to a father, and about how I watched Mr. Rogers Neighborhood to an embarrassingly old age. Heck, I still watch it once in a blue moon. It grounds me. It makes me feel better that somewhere, at some time, a place of such goodness existed, even if it was only on television. It reminds me that there are, in fact, reasonable, decent and kind people in the world. I’ve also written about a documentary that came out recently about him entitled, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

So I guess you might say that Fred Rogers is a recurring theme in my blog. That makes perfect sense, because he made a huge impact on my life. He’s probably the only reason I survived the insanity of my childhood.

When I’m feeling particularly vulnerable, I sometimes wonder what my mother would think of how my life turned out. Would she be proud of me? I desperately need to hear that, but of course I can’t, as she passed away 29 years ago. Are you proud of me, Ma? Are you there?

But suddenly I’m wondering what Mr. Rogers would think of me. Sometimes in this blog, and in life in general, I say things that aren’t very nice about people. Sometimes I am not as generous as I could be. Sometimes I use bad words or get impatient or have mean thoughts. I’m judgmental.

I didn’t learn any of this from him.

It wouldn’t be at all unfair if Mr. Rogers were disappointed in my behavior, but it wouldn’t really be like him. He was all about love and acceptance. He liked all of us just the way we are. So, yeah, Mr. Rogers would be proud of me, despite my many flaws, which he wouldn’t have focused on.

Out of curiosity, I just Googled “Mr. Rogers Pride” and came up with this video, where he sings, “I’m proud of you.” Ironically, it was at the very end of the very last episode of his show.

Mr. Rogers just told me he was proud of me, and I burst into tears. I had one of those ugly, chest-heaving cries that, once over, leaves you feeling cleansed. I needed that.

Thanks, Mr. Rogers. For everything. I sure wish you were here to comfort us during this pandemic.

Mr Rogers

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