’ death makes me think that maybe the rapture
has come. The one real person on earth who embodied Christian
values has been spirited away to safety, the rest of us left behind to face the apocalypse
. Of course, I’m an atheist - I don’t even believe in god, but I loved Fred Rogers. Not a kinder, gentler soul existed in the world -- his simple message, that all children need to feel loved and protected, was so comforting to me when I was a kid.
I’m startled by the tremendous grief I feel. It’s been so long since I’ve seen his show -- since a Children and Television class I took in college, where the professor, a Baltimore Sun media critic, made mild jokes about him being “square.” The names of some of Mr. Rogers’ alter egos have faded from my memory, but I remember King Friday XIII, Meow-Meow, Mr. McFeely, Lady Elaine. More prominent is the feeling of peace the show evoked in me as a kid, the calming effect he had.
This morning I came across a quote in The Washington Post that really moved me and I think summed up Fred Rogers’ impact on the world:
Perhaps no story speaks more about the depths of Mister Rogers' appeal, about his pervasive grace, than one he recounted in an Esquire magazine profile a few years ago. It seems that Fred Rogers wanted to meet Koko, the gorilla who was taught to communicate using American Sign Language. Koko had watched Mister Rogers on television. When they first encountered each other, the 280-pound gorilla instantly enfolded Fred Rogers, all 143 pounds of him, in a massive embrace.
And then? And then Koko took off Mister Rogers's shoes.
Does anything more need to be said?