I don't have a lot of really good memories from my childhood. It was a difficult time, but I don't dwell on the painful times too much anymore, instead I think about the moments here and there that brought me the most comfort in those painful turbulent times. I did a lot of reading as a child, I almost always had a book either in my hand, or close by, and when there wasn't a book by my side, there was a newspaper. I loved reading, to make sense of the world around me. I also watched TV, especially after my brother left for Viet Nam. I wanted to know why he was gone, why he left me, and if he would be coming back.
As you might guess, I learned to grasp the world around me a little earlier than most kids, and when other kids didn't want to discuss Watergate... lol... I would feel a bit out of place. I always loved TV and I wasn't so single minded about the world that I only watched the news and 60 Minutes, I watched sitcoms, because I also learned at a young age that humor was another great escape from the sadness!
I watched the Monkees, and I had a mad crush on Micky Dolenz. I loved Star Trek, "Space, the final frontier" and who didn't want Rob and Laura Petrie (The Dick Van Dyke Show) for the their parents? I missed that show when it went off the air, but was thrilled to death when Mary Tyler Moore came back to TV in her own show, called, of course, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. From the first episode, I was hooked. Mary Richards was my big sister, and I loved watching along with my real sister, as we tuned in each week to see what was in Mary's closet. Mary had a classic style that could still be pulled off to this day!
I loved every season of the show's seven year run, but my favorite episode came right out the gate, in season one. It was season one, episode three... "Bess Is Your Daughter Now." It was all about Mary bonding with her friend Phyllis's daughter Bess, and the transformation of what had been a strained relationship into what would become a lifelong appreciation for each other. From that episode on, Bess referred to Mary as "Aunt Mary,"and it all came about because Mary took the time to get to know a 10 year old girl, Bess, and form that friendship.
I was about Bess's age, and I think I thought of Mary Richards as my TV aunt from then on as well. It impressed me that someone Mary's age would make the effort to not just spend time with Bess, but truly find out about who Bess was. Not everyone has the ability to bond when children, or the patience, at least that had been my experience, and I also had a mother who deeply resented any friendship I attempted to make, including with my peers. Forming healthy friendships was difficult, so it really impressed me and gave me hope that one day, I might meet someone from the adult world, willing to be my friend, just for the sake of being my friend.
I did. And we discussed politics and world events till we were both sick of it LOL. But we also discussed music and art, and she was a great teacher who was instrumental to bringing me out of my shell. She encouraged my creative side, and she helped me feel less alone. Sometimes I think about that time in my life, and I am glad I had learned the lesson that friendships are sometimes spontaneous things, and sometimes they need time to build, but if you are willing to put yourself out there... Love Is All Around No Need To Fake It. The friendship I made with that teacher continued for years, and I was grateful for it. Always.
Thank you, Aunt Mary!
The little drawing on my sidebar, is of the poster hanging in Mary's Richard's apartment in seasons 2 through 6.
( "Why" By Ben Shahn )