Long before Daniel Tiger was gracing our tellies and captivating our toddlers, a human face filled our living rooms and our hearts. He loved us as we were and encouraged the curiosity within. That face was that of Fred Rogers. For many of us 70’s and 80’s kids (that’s 1970’s and 80’s), Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was a piece of our day, a part of our lives. He was our neighbor and the embodiment of all that was good and wholesome in the world. As each episode began, out of the TV would protruded a spectacular bubble of safety and belonging that would envelope and catch me as it expanded out into my home. Yes, I agree…that sentence sounded exceptionally goopy; dripping with balmy and excessive adoration. But I can’t help but feel flooded with happiness when I think of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
My family recently discovered that our much loved show has suddenly become available on Netflix. My older two lovies haven’t seen the show in years and barely have any recollection of it. My younger two have only heard romanticized rumors of the man; the legend (Mr. Rogers), as though he were a noble mythological character. Public Broadcasting stopped airing Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood around the time my son was 2 years old. He used to love watching it and I still love reminding him of his favorite episode as a little guy. In this specific episode, Mr. Rogers takes a ride on a school bus. It left such an impression on Christian. He was so fascinated by the enormous yellow vehicle and captivated by Mr. Rogers that for a couple years he was convinced his future school experience would include a Mr. Rogers chaperoned bus adventure. If only life could be so perfect…
The other day, shortly after we’d made our little Netflix discovery, I fired up the classic series for nostalgia sake. All my kids were instantly smitten. Even my “cool kid”, Christian, who’s now 9, was engrossed. All this led him to ask, “Mom, do you still like Mr. Rogers?” I knew he was looking for permission to be a fan, even at his age.
Being reunited with our old friend brought me to discover that there is a website in honor of Fred Rogers which offers a quote of the week. It just so happens that this week’s quote from our very own Mr. Rogers is this: "Transitions are almost always signs of growth, but they can bring feelings of loss. To get somewhere new, we may have to leave somewhere else behind." I couldn’t help but think about how profound that statement truly is. It’s pretty basic, but for some reason the most simple concepts can end up being the most profound. These truths are usually so simple and basic that we give hardly any of our thoughts to them. Then someone utters them plainly, and suddenly they resonate deep within us with such purity and angelic enlightenment, as if heaven itself had opened up and started singing…with a beam of shimmering radiance illuminating the moment (of course).
My family has been going through a transition of sorts. Life has changed and we’ve felt a loss. We know that greater things are ahead, but leaving “somewhere else” behind has been painful. Finding this little quote actually felt timely. It comforted me much more than I imagined it would. It kind of puts into words the feeling of having a friend just sitting near, patting my leg lovingly and knowingly and saying, “it’s OK to feel sad”. These ordinary words strung together, awakened a hope within me and in the midst of my gloom, I could hear a gentle voice saying “you’re not alone”.
Writer and fellow traveler on the road of life.