Lives can be complicated. We find our paths in life out of quest or out of necessity and we pursue them with a mixture of some discipline and abandon. We typically become part of smaller and smaller groups as we take on identities in our jobs, or families, our communities. Inevitability, we lose some touch with others who have chosen different roads and are in different places. Sometimes we forget where we came from and who we once were. In that process that we call “growing up”, we lose the greatest shared experience we might ever have had, the simple sense of wonder and imagination that should be enjoyed by all of us as children.
The greatest man to ever come from our area was not a general, a captain of industry, a banking baron, an entertainer, musician, politician or sports hero – although we certainly have a share of all of those. He was man who by some cleverness chose to allow part of himself to keep that sense of wonder. He grew older but never lost his child like imagination. He had a special ability as a man to see the world through a child’s eyes. He also understood both the best and the hardest parts of growing up and helped put those into a perspective that a child could understand. He never abandoned his advocacy of the smallest, the most isolated, or the most afraid.
I remember meeting him while I was as a small child and visiting him in the television studio that was also the land of imagination from which he guided many of us who followed him locally. Eventually his unique, powerful, yet wonder-filled message could not be contained and he was everywhere. But unlike so many ruined by fame, he was a constant – he was there as much for my children as he was for me. Thank you, Fred Rogers, for inviting me to your neighborhood. Being part of the Tame Tiger Torganization was a gift for life.