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Life's Journeys According to Mister Rogers
Things to Remember Along the Way
By Fred Rogers
Formats and Prices
- Hardcover (Revised) $18.00 $23.00 CAD
- ebook $11.99 $15.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 3, 2019. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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For all the roads we choose to travel, and even those we don’t, Fred Rogers has an observation, a story, some insights to share. Whether you’re facing graduation, a new job, a new baby, marriage, any change in your life–expected or not–the wisdom that Mister Rogers offers can contribute mightily to the grace with which you handle the change.
With sections titled Who You Are Right Now, Loving and Being Loved, and Guided Drift, Fred addresses the scope of human transitions. It all comes down to knowing we’re valuable, and that we’re worthy of that value. As Fred would say, “You don’t have to be anything more than who you are right now.”
In her foreword, Joanne Rogers shares the Fred she knew. With stories from their life together, the joys as well as the struggles, Joanne shows how Fred looked at life as a journey–with the ups and downs and in-betweens.
by Joanne Rogers
When the day turns into night,
And you're way beyond my sight,
I think of you.
One of my treasures is a photo of a sunset that Fred sent to me, with those words from one of his songs on a little note that he put on the back. Fred had taken that photo when he was in Nantucket without me for a bit. He loved being on the other side of the camera—taking pictures! That photo and those few words have carried me through a lot these days. In fact, I've put the photo in a frame, and I set that note in a corner, right in front. Even though he's "way beyond my sight," I'm still being nourished by his words. It's such a comfort to know that others are, too.
Life is a curious journey. Certainly when Fred and I married, neither he nor I expected to find ourselves on the road that was ahead of us. I'd have to say, though, that from his senior year of college on, Fred knew what kind of journey he wanted. Early on, he was convinced that television could be an inspiring and positive force, especially for children, and he felt a calling to be a part of that mission.
It still took him a long time to get where he wanted to be. Along the way, he used his time and his energies to gather what he felt might strengthen him for that calling. Somehow, from what he saw on television in the early 1950s, he knew in his heart that there could be a connection between television, the real needs of human beings (particularly children), and spirituality. All through his life, he focused on learning all he could about each of those three elements—and that's why he was able to weave them so skillfully together in the magnificent tapestry of his lifework.
Even when the world around him was changing, becoming fast-paced and materialistic, even hectic and violent at times, even when he seemed to be going against the current and some were urging him to pick up the pace of his program, Fred was determined to stay the course. Anyone who was close to him knew about his "steel backbone." A lot of people might be surprised to think of him that way, but he was strong-willed and determined. The mentors he trusted most supported his decision to continue on what he knew was the right path—to be himself!
My involvement in Fred's work was primarily as a fan and as background support. I did lots of cheering—from the sidelines! I came into our marriage with a master's degree in piano performance. So it was natural for me as a young wife to become busy in the music community of Pittsburgh, teaching piano and playing concerts.
After our first child was born, I put the piano on the back burner for a few years. But as the boys grew older, I went back to it and got together again with my college friend and duo-piano partner, Jeannine Morrison, for concerts. I thought it was important to continue using what talent I have. To be perfectly honest, I started playing again because it was fun and because I knew it was good for me. Just as exercise keeps our bodies fit (if we do it! hmmmm), so I truly believe the piano work keeps my brain agile.
I also had an ulterior motive: the hope that my sons would eventually feel freer, knowing that I wasn't solely invested in them and their lives. As an only child, I knew the ambivalence of being the subject of my parents' near-adoration. Part of me thoroughly enjoyed their attention, and at the same time I felt a definite burden of trying to please both of them—a difficult journey at times, to be sure.
Fred and I always allowed each other our own space. Fred's sister wasn't adopted into the family until he was eleven. So essentially, we were both only children, and it was obvious to both of us that we each needed our own space. But even when we were apart, we were connected.
I couldn't help getting caught up in Fred's world. For the last twenty-five years of his life, everywhere we went, people would come up to him to say hello. He loved hearing their stories. One of the worst jobs was moving him along in a crowd! Everyone wanted to talk with him. And he loved their stories. He would just keep on asking questions so he could get to know more about them. He had a heart that had room for everyone, and he was fascinated by other people's journeys.
That's probably why he loved the fan mail so much. He always brought home copies of letters to share with me. In his answers, he wanted to give the same attention and respect that he felt the writers had put into their letters. There was even a time in the mid-1960s when he'd bring the mail home and after the boys were in bed, we would sit at the dining room table while he'd write out the answers. It's a good thing we weren't paid by the hour because it was mighty slow work. We'd have to stop and read almost every one out loud to each other!
Fred is still with me most of the time. There is hardly a minute that I don't think about him. A lot of my language contains "we" and "our"—he's so much a part of my ongoing journey. I am still getting letters from people who continue to care about his work. Their stories are real treasures and warm my heart. I have the boxes of mail in the corner of my dining room—most of them answered and some yet to do. You know, he wasn't a "TV star" to them. They tell me that they thought of him as a personal friend and that he meant so much to their children. That would've pleased him so much! Almost all of them added something like "and we watch, too." It touches me deeply that these loving "neighbors" want to share their sense of Fred with me.
After Fred died, I was asked to take his place at a number of events where he'd been scheduled to give a speech. Fred had always spoken so beautifully, and I really wasn't comfortable taking his place. But when I realized that these audiences were Fred's loving friends and that they didn't expect me to be Fred, I actually started to enjoy it! Now I speak occasionally, and I just try to be myself.
Another big part of my life now is my involvement with those who are committed to carrying on Fred's legacy, especially the amazingly gifted staff members at Family Communications, Inc., who have become my extended family. (FCI is the nonprofit company that Fred founded in 1971.) Much of Fred's spirit is still there at FCI, where so many hours of his life were spent. Some of my favorite times are my visits there at their offices. It's a great comfort to know that this FCI family, who is so knowledgeable about Fred's philosophy in working with children and families, is as invested in his legacy as I am.
On the horizon is The Fred M. Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media. It's still in the planning stages at St. Vincent College in Fred's hometown of Latrobe, PA. Fred had been in on the early discussions for it, and I've been fascinated to be involved with so many of his friends and colleagues in forging a path for it.
Probably the best part of my work now is that I've met some wonderful people. And I've gotten to know them. We've kept in touch, calling now and then, exchanging e-mails, visiting when they're in town, sharing memories, jokes, and funny stories (I do love to laugh!).
- On Sale
- Sep 3, 2019
- Page Count
- 176 pages
- Hachette Books