Sometimes the death of a famous person hits you with an unexpectedly large pang. That’s what happened to me at the end of last month when I heard of the passing of yet another icon of my youth – the wonderful Mary Tyler Moore.
Mary held a very special place in the very small world of 3-5 year old me. She told me to go to bed every night. You see, (and I acknowledge I was an exceptionally trusting gullible kid – I will never confess how many times I fell victim to a rousing game of 52-card-pick-up) my dad obviated our whole bedtime fight by convincing me that the cat that roared from atop the MTM at the end of every Mary episode was actually signalling parents far and wide that Bedtime had arrived (yes the same one for all kids). I was convinced that one day the cat wouldn’t be there and ‘the day kids stayed up until dawn’ would ensue – but he was there each and every night to roar that encoded ‘march your butt up to bed’. So I did.
Of course, little me thought the important part of each and every evening was the cat. Grown me knows it was the time before. Each and every night my family sat down together. Each and every night. Together. As a parent myself now, who’s swept up just like everyone else in a too hectic, too scheduled, too digital, too separated world I wish sometimes there weren’t Netflix and PVR that have obliterated ‘appointment-television’ (yes maybe I wish it had been something more wholesome than prime-time TV that pulled us together, but at least it did) for bringing us together to unwind. Mary did that for us growing up.
Waxing scientific for just a moment, I can say that Mary may well have been among my most influential teachers. We know that our Beliefs are set predominantly in early childhood – a time of rapid brain development when information is absorbed pretty much without filters. A child is learning, by observation as much as intended lessons, the ‘way of the world’. And what that child experiences becomes the ‘truth’ against which all future input is measured. Like I said above, Mary was a remembered part of my daily life from about age 3 on – prime learning about the world time. Each night I watched Mary throw her beret in the air and I absorbed how it looked like that felt – and subconsciously I went about looking for experiences to make myself feel like that! I learned from Mary about independence and about friendship, I learned that sometimes you make mistakes and that they’re forgivable, I learned that you don’t have to fit in anybody’s described box and that barriers (professional ones, interpersonal ones, and self-imposed ones) are breakable, and most of all I learned that laughter really is the best medicine.

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