It kinda took me by surprise. When I started crying, I mean.
Okay, here I am, a (nearly) 60 year-old guy with a great wife and a good job and a budding career as an author. I’ve got friends, I’ve got things that need doing. I’m busy living. I don’t pay attention to celebrities. The Kardashians leave me cold. I couldn’t care less about this rocker or that rapper. I never turn on the TV these days, unless it’s to check the weather.
And I’m bawling because a celebrity died.
Yeah, I’m talking about Mary. Mary Tyler Moore. America’s sweetheart. The woman who showed women all around the world that they, too, might one day “make it after all”. Who brought class and grace and beauty and joy to our world. She died today, at the age of 80. And my world, surprisingly, is diminished.
I grew up with Mary. Not literally, of course, but televisically. Okay, that’s not a word, but it should be. I’m coining it, here and now. From The Dick Van Dyke Show in the 60’s, to The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 70’s, Mary was…astonishing. She had presence like few before her on the small screen. And she did indeed turn the world on with her smile. It lit up living rooms and hearts all over America, and likely the world. She was smart and charming and cute and spunky. She had foibles and problems. She had dreams. And she showed us things that were possible, things that we secretly dreamed of but often didn’t dare to express.
And of course, there’s that amazing hat-toss. Iconic? Yeah. It was named the second most important moment in television in the 70's. But to me, the sheer joy in that single moment showed us the joy of just living. Of being in the moment. Of daring those dreams. Of being… human.
She paved the way for so many who came after her. And was rarely, if ever, equaled.
And so I sit here and let the tears flow. And it’s okay. I’m not a stoic kind of guy who never shows his feelings. I cry at sad-and-heartwarming movies. But I don’t cry for the passing of celebrities. We lost a lot of great musical talent in the past years. And yeah, I was a bit sad for those whose music I appreciated. But it didn’t *really* affect me. Not in the way that this did. Because while a musician plays or sings and brings us a moment of pleasure, it’s just that. Momentary.
Mary, though… Mary stood for something. All along her journey, we rooted for her. Cared for her. Wished her success and happiness and fulfillment. Because of who she was, and who she showed us we could be.
Okay, it was a persona. Mary Tyler Moore was an actress, and a darned fine one. So what she showed us was what she wanted us to see. But when you think about it, what she wanted us to see was our own possibilities. The ups and downs, the dreams dashed and the ones realized. Taking it back to the hat-toss—she wanted us to see the joy of life.
So I cry because a little piece of my heart, one I didn’t even realize I had, has been suddenly ripped out. But I cry not so much in sadness as in gratefulness for the memories Mary Tyler Moore left me with. And the hope that “we’re gonna make it after all.”
Thank you, Mary. We’ll miss you. But your legacy, for women especially, but for us guys too, will live on. I just hope we can live up to what you call us towards.