I had a friend named Fred


When I was young, I didn’t like cartoons. I didn’t like all the fast moving, hard hitting, loud, often violent, and mostly poorly drawn animation that was children’s television (and frankly, I still don’t). When Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted in early 1968, I was right there in front of our black & white console TV. I was four years old. I watched every show, every morning. Fred Rogers taught me about my parents’ impending divorce. He comforted me and told me it was okay and just part of life when my childhood dog, a Golden Retriever mix named Sham, had to be put down. Mr. Rogers encouraged me to be brave and he reinforced in me the fact that I am unique and he liked me, just exactly the way I was.

I didn’t much care for the controversy and turmoil that was part of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, but I did like Daniel Striped Tiger (so full of emotion), Henrietta Pussycat (meow meow meow meow meow meow), and X the Owl (so smart and eager to learn). My favorite part of the show was when Mr. Rogers went around his “neighborhood” to the music shop, the toy shop, the bakery, etc… I remember later watching episodes of Mr. Rogers’ with my boys, specifically the episode where he visits the Little Tikes factory and they were able to see how their Cozy Coupe was made.

On a plane to New York a couple weeks ago, I watched the recent documentary movie titled ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ Gentle tears flowed down my cheeks pretty much from beginning to end. Not tears of sadness, but tears of gratefulness. Tears of love for a man I never met, but who impacted my life significantly. He was there to guide me through tough spots. He filled in the gaps when my parents couldn’t. It was like he was speaking directly to me. He knew me, and every other child, “longs to be loved and to know they’re lovable.” Watching Mr. Rogers was like sitting down with someone I trusted implicitly and who was there to teach me about love, and kindness, and trust, and self awareness, and he asked for nothing in return. Whether we were watching a turtle slowly moving across the floor, or learning how to breathe deeply, or learning how to peel an apple using an old metal peeler, I was mesmerized. He taught me I don’t have to do anything sensational for people to love me.

Today is Blue Eyes’ 55th birthday.

IMG_8915 (1)

Look at that innocent little boy, with the infectious smile.

Blue Eyes didn’t watch Mr. Rogers. Blue Eyes didn’t have anyone in his life who loved him unconditionally. Blue Eyes was one of the children Fred Rogers was trying to reach… but couldn’t. Fred states that, “the greatest evil is someone who would try to make you feel less than you are.” Every day Blue Eyes’ parents made him feel less than. He felt completely unlovable and would therefore spend 40+ years of his life trying to fill that hole inside. Blue Eyes’ feelings were pushed down and away and something horrible started to grow. It isn’t something he understood or that he wanted. It just was.

Mr. Rogers wrote a song about what to do with angry feelings.

What do you do with the mad that you feel
When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong…
And nothing you do seems very right?

It’s great to be able to stop
When you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:

I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.

Unfortunately good people can’t always reach the ones who need them most. Our world is filled with people who desperately needed to know unconditional love when they were young. In Mr. Roger’s words, “a healthy family is about trust.” In my words, healthy relationships are about trust, and honesty, and unconditional love. My birthday wish for Blue Eyes is that he knows that after all these years and everything that has happened, he has people in his corner who love him unconditionally. We love him not for the things he isn’t, but for all the things he is.

22 thoughts on “I had a friend named Fred

  1. Great post! I love Mr. Rogers❤️ Please take care of yourself. Pneumonia and a sinus infection? Did I read that right? 😮I had a sinus infection almost 20 yrs ago and I still remember how miserable I felt. Get lots of rest. 😴

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree. Honesty is critical, especially now. Hard for someone who grew up that way to trust and learn new tools I’m sure. My husband’s demons from his family of origin aren’t as bad but certainly affected him. He has a codependent relationship with his parents and siblings. And for a long time, with me and just about everyone. Thankfully therapy has helped him set better boundaries. He remembers around the age of 8 parenting his parents. He was paying their mortgage in high school so they wouldn’t lose the house. List goes on and on. He now manages their money because he bailed them out again a few years ago and its the only way he will get his money back. His dad taught him secrets aren’t bad. Lies aren’t bad. That your wife is going to be pissed at you no matter what you do, so tell her what she wants to hear and do what you want anyway. I’ve distanced myself from his family (used to be pretty close with them) since his affair. I realized they are toxic for me to be around alot. I became a negative, unhappy person when being around them too much. So I pulled away. They reacted by telling my husband that I said things about him that I didn’t say and tried to create drama. It was quite comical. So now I say very little. I can’t be misquoted if I don’t talk to them 🙂
    That’s alot of travel! Hope you get well and can enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My family is far from perfect, but this whole turning people against each other and lying is just so foreign to how I grew up. I was the scapegoat for my husband’s family for 30 years. He never understood that his removing himself from the situation and not being an active partner to me when it came to his family was, frankly, very hurtful to me. He never believed any of their BS, but he never stood by me or defended me either and they took that to mean he agreed with them. They vacillated between abusing him, and abusing me. When they started in on my kids, I shut the whole thing down. It was over a year later that my husband’s secret life was revealed. I realized that he wasn’t purposely abandoning me in regards to his family. He literally had no tools for dealing with them. We’ve been no contact for nearly five years now, and that’s just the way it’s going to be. One less stressor in our lives. I’m looking forward to actually getting to Tokyo and crashing at the hotel! 😴


  3. Hearing of his childhood breaks my heart for him. I get sick thinking about child abuse. I have an 8 yr old and a 3yr old. I just look at them and wonder how someone could hurt such precious, young and innocent children. UGH. I seriously can’t think about it or I’ll be up all night.

    He is the truest definition of “hurt people hurt people”. He is lucky to have you in his corner. The fact that you love him unconditionally despite the betrayal and pain he thrust upon you says ALOT about you.

    Get better soon and safe travels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, child abuse is heartbreaking. I don’t understand how people can be so cruel. That beautiful and innocent little boy deserved so much more. As it turns out, the abuse was mental, physical, and sexual and it left lasting wounds. Sometimes this world we live in is so overwhelming emotionally. And it’s why it is so important for us as adults to understand the vulnerability of our children, and other people’s children, all children, and do everything we can to give them safety and security and unconditional love. It’s important that children understand that they are precious just the way they are. I know it sounds childish and idealistic, but I learned a lot from Fred Rogers, and from my Mother. I’m one of the lucky ones. I know sexual acting out, affairs, whatever, is so hurtful, but what I really seek from my husband is honesty. I want my him to know I am a safe place. It must be so sad to grow up thinking there is no safe place. Thanks for the well wishes. Just having a diagnosis and meds (after 17 days of this) helps me have the strength to get on yet another plane (the 8th this month) in less than 48 hours. Even typing that it sounds crazy. ❤️


  4. You are such a gift to many. BE is very lucky to have you as his personal cheerleader and friend. I also felt the same way as you regarding Mr. R. When my kids were young I would put on Mr. R and the boys would ask to watch something different. I always declined and told them they could go read a book if they didn’t want to watch with me. Hope you start feeling the effects of your meds soon. Being that ill and traveling is awful. Thank you for your beautiful post. You are a treasure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Marie for your very sweet comments. I want to live in a world full of Fred Rogers’ type people. I try my best to always be kind and understanding and compassionate. Sometimes I don’t succeed, but I try! xo


  5. Mr Rogers was an American hero in the truest sense of the word. It was a beautiful documentary. So inspiring and it filled me with so much love that people like him exist.
    Happy birthday to BE. Sending him lots of love and good wishes. I’m sure you guys did something special.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh wow, Where are you off to next? I can’t keep track?
        Have u decided on birthday plans?
        P.s. fantasizing about Pok Pok wings today. Some women think about men, I think of food 🤷🏻‍♀️

        Liked by 2 people

        • Ha. I have a man and I still fantasize about food… it’s kind of my thing. I’ve been dreaming about that Bollywood Theater Indian Street Food.

          Sam’s 25th Birthday is tomorrow, so we’ll go out to dinner for a combined celebration then on to Japan Friday morning. Hopefully by the time we get there the antibiotics will have kicked in.

          We celebrate my Mom’s 75th and Princess Leila’s 4th Birthday next week, so I have to get better. BE has lots of business meetings, but I can relax other than family obligations.

          Also, they are putting in a Pok Pok about a mile from our house! 😮😁😘

          Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.