With a passing of Mary Tyler Moore there are a lot of tributes being written. I know...I know...I should probably forgo writing an article on the topic because by the time you read this it will be old news...but I’m going to do it anyways.
First, let me say there two TV icons I held dear; Mr. Rogers and Mary Tyler Moore.
When Mr. Rogers died back in 2003 I was truly heartbroken. He was my father figure growing up. I watched him far too long (into my teens.) When he passed away I was working as an accountant at a different paper on the west coast. His death affected me so much I wrote a letter to the editor.
The editor refused to publish is because I worked there and wasn’t considered a community member-at-large. The writing staff passed around my little essay of devotion and remembrance and asked him to make an except on behalf.
He refused. I didn’t have the right kind of degree to write in a paper….I wasn’t worthy to have my work published because I wasn’t a REAL writer.
In many ways...the fact that I get to write this article is my own personal Mary Tyler Moore Moment™ .
Mary Tyler Moore for many women (and probably some men) was one of the first images we ever saw in popular culture of a strong, talented, self-sufficient career-woman. She was living in a big city all on her own, with a sense of joy and optimism that was contagious.
That optimism kept me going many a times. The theme song to The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a mantra of sorts in my early years as an adult.
I’ve written before that I was a foster kid in my late teens. One of the fallbacks of being in the foster system is that when you turn 18...that’s it. No more help, no more guidance...no more financial support.
I was 18 living on my own, hundreds of miles from any family that could help. I was living with no safety net. I was working two part-time, minimum wage jobs, struggling to buy toilet paper.
One day as I was walking the 4 miles to work (I had no vehicle either) the weight of the world was on my shoulders. Suddenly, the lyrics of Love Is All Around (the theme song to the show) came to mind:
“How will you make it on your own?
This world is awfully big, girl this time you're all alone
But it's time you started living
It's time you let someone else do some giving
Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don't you take it
You're gonna make it after all
For that moment I channeled all of Mary’s tenacious optimism. If she could do it, so could I. I literally threw an imaginary hat in the air as I belted the ditty while walking down the main drag in Redding, California.
I was also, perhaps, a little bit crazy too.
To this day, it is a song I sing to myself, a song that gets me through new challenges. When I am overwhelmed, terrified, or doubting myself...I pray a lot and pretend I’m Mary Tyler Moore.
It is a good little prayer too.