Cora with dog blog post

I Believe in Mister Rogers

by Cora 21

As a young child, I remem­ber watch­ing Mister Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hood with my sister Willa in our sunny living room. Willa could never quite remem­ber the name of the show, and lovingly referred to it as the old man with the houses” and occa­sion­ally the old man who made me not scared of being sucked down the drain anymore.” I didn’t watch the show as frequently as I would have liked to, as PBS didn’t show reruns very often. But when episodes did come on, my sister and I would settle down, bubbling with excite­ment, while a wash of calm and comfort surrounded the room. We would become instantly capti­vated, and even my parents would find them­selves stand­ing idly by, watch­ing along, also mesmer­ized by the gentle voice of Fred Rogers and the warm glow that magi­cally radi­ated from inside the TV and out into our home. 

Mister Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hood was differ­ent than most children’s shows, in that it had a deep history in our family. My mom grew up watch­ing the show as well. Fred Rogers became some­thing akin to a father figure to her when she needed one as a child. My mother’s father left her family when she was three, and because of this, she and her little sister spent a lot of time home alone after school while her mom – my grandma – was working hard to support their family. When Willa and I watched Mister Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hood, my mom would often remi­nisce about how it was Mister Rogers’ week long special on divorce that brought her solace and clarity in her child­hood years when she tried to make sense of the loss she had expe­ri­enced as a child. At a young age, it was clear to me that this Mister Rogers man had the power to take a very serious and sad situ­a­tion and give someone great comfort and hope. The fact that my mom had remem­bered such a small detail from so long ago meant that it was a big deal, and so I held Mister Rogers with the utmost respect and admi­ra­tion from the beginning. 

While Mister Rogers was a favorite show in my house­hold, it was really later in life that I began to appre­ci­ate it. During what I can say in hind­sight was without a doubt the hardest period of my life, Mister Rogers had somehow found his way back to me once again. A family friend told me that when she was feeling over­whelmed while writing her thesis paper, she would play Mister Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hood in the back­ground, and that his gentle voice and reas­sur­ing words would give her the strength to power through. I hadn’t watched Mister Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hood in years, and had prac­ti­cally forgot­ten about it alto­gether, but was excited to see the show with new eyes. But even though I was excited, I never expected a tearful reac­tion like the one I expe­ri­enced the second the gentle theme song began to play. Like reunit­ing with an old friend, I was welcomed back into a world of wonder, magic, and hope. It was a world that I had desper­ately missed, and while watch­ing Mister Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hood on that awful summer evening, I saw a tiny flicker of light at the end of the tunnel. Watch­ing Mister Rogers again made me see the message I had taken for granted as a child. Somehow, Fred Rogers has an almost spir­i­tual way of telling you through the TV exactly what you need to hear when you’ve hit rock bottom. And for me, it was the simple message of the way you feel won’t last forever.”