This afternoon, NPR's Talk of the Nation had a story, Remembering Mister Rogers, that included a call-in segment. I wasn't able to get through, so here's what I wanted to say:
"I grew up on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. The first explanations about death (the older of my younger brothers died in 1982), getting along with others, and not going down the drain that I believed came from his show. My mother encouraged us to pay attention to him and I took up watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood again after I was grown and it was on before I left for work -- Mr. Rogers and the local weather forecast was my morning routine.
"I've watched it near-daily since my two-and-a-half year old daughter was born. We all have favorite episodes now: my husband's is when Mr. Rogers sees Lou Ferrigno go through the makeup process, mine is when Lady Elaine turns Granpere's tower upside down, and Laurel's is when Henrietta keeps ringing the new, louder bell for her tree. When I was her size I used to dream about seeing the Neighborhood of Make-Believe with my own eyes, and we very nearly saw some of it when the Mr. Rogers hands-on exhibit came to the Greensboro Children's Museum in 2001.
"I think the saddest day will be when PBS stops showing it -- it was sad when Bob Trow (Robert Troll/Bob Dog) and John Costa (the music director) passed on, and again when Mr. Rogers retired, but I was thrilled to see the show stay on in reruns. Like Sesame Street, it's one of the gems of PBS childrens' programming."
Going to my copy of his book You Are Special reminded me it's normal to mourn: "We need time to miss the people and the things we lose, no matter whether the loss is temporary or permanent" (100).
Fellow NPR listeners, a rebroadcast of two of his past interviews will be on Fresh Air tomorrow night.