I was surprised when I heard what people said about two men who died, ten years apart; one was almost 75 and the other had just turned 18. Both were well-loved, by those who knew them personally, and, also, by people around the world whose lives had been touched by them. The comment I heard about each man was: “When you were with him, he treated you, as if you were the most important person in the world.” When I heard the tribute for the second time, it struck my heart and touched me deeply, as something remarkable. I realized that both of these men had touched and changed my life, as well, even though I had never met either of them.
One man was Fred Rogers, best known as the television producer and host of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood which ran for many years and continues to be seen on Public Television. He was a caring, compassionate man who encouraged children (and their parents, too!) to accept their feelings and uniqueness and to know they are loved, just as they are. He was also an educator, minister, songwriter, and author. The other, Zach Sobiech, is a lesser known man who, at the age of fourteen, learned that he had osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that usually develops in teenagers, when they are growing rapidly. He continued to live his life as fully as possible for the next four years, while undergoing 10 surgeries and 20 rounds of chemotherapy. Toward the end of his life, his mom suggested that he might like to write letters to his family members to remember him, after he passed on. Instead, he chose to write and sing songs. One of his songs, Clouds, became a hit song that has touched the hearts of people around the world. Although Zach's life was short, as compared to most others, he, too, left an amazing legacy of showing compassion and care for others, treating each person and oneself with respect, and living life to the fullest. Through various celebrations of Zach’s life, money is raised to fund osteosarcoma research for children.
I am glad I was able to enjoy and appreciate Mr. Rogers’ kind and gentle ways of interacting with his TV audience, when my children were younger, and being encouraged to love myself and others, as unique and special human beings. It was also nice to know that Fred Rogers was the same off-screen as he was on-screen. Although I never met Zach Sobiech, I see his spirit, heart, and humble personality shine through, as I watch him on YouTube videos, singing his songs and interacting with his family and friends. I appreciate his compassion for others, his joy in living life to the fullest, and making every day count.
I am grateful for the ways in which Fred Rogers and Zach Sobiech each used their time on earth to show compassion for others, to be gentle, but strong leaders by example, and for encouraging each of us to live our lives fully, doing whatever we know how to do and sharing it, as a gift of love, hope, and respect for the people in the world around us... beginning with… one person at time!
My favorite links about Fred Rogers include:
15 Quotes that Show That Mr. Rogers was a Perfect Human Being - http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/quotes-that-show-that-mr-rogers-was-a-perfect-human-being
10 Mr. Rogers Quotes You Need to Read - http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/10-mr-rogers-quotes-you-need-read
A very fast & fun explanation of 35 fun facts about Mr. Rogers – “35 Facts About Mr. Rogers – mental floss (Ep. 2) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Xck2ByutMg
My favorite links about Zach Sobiech include:
The video, “My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech” especially from 1:04 – 1:19 minutes and 21:57 – 22:08 minutes on the link: Zach Sobiech, 18-Year-Old ‘Clouds’ Singer, Leaves The World An Incredible Legacy - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/21/zach-sobiech-18yearold-cl_n_3312838.html (There is other information and videos on this link, also.)
Zach’s family and friends lip-sync his song, Clouds, on a video collage, as a gift to him. See “My Last Days: Zach Sobiech ‘Clouds’ Celebrity Music Video” at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zxXAtmmLLc.
Thousands of Minnesotans Sing Zach Sobiech’s ‘Clouds’ at MOA - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2O1ZPeexcs (NOTE: MOA is the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN.)
POSTSCRIPT, WRITTEN ON MARCH 21, 2014:
I didn't realize why I sensed such a strong desire to write and post this on my blog yesterday about two, great men. I learned today that it was Fred Rogers' birthday yesterday (March 20th)! Isn't that rather uncanny? I also like what a friend posted today about Mr. Rogers. See: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152244333450256&set=a.204442570255.129097.55715345255&type=1&relevant_count=1