As we learn over the years, all good things must come to an end. Friday, August 31, 2001 marks the end of one of the greatest runs in modern history. Fred Rogers is hanging up his sweater for the final time.
I don’t know why this bothers me so much. I haven’t seen Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood since the mid 1980s. Maybe that’s one of the reasons. My brother David is 11 years younger than me, and one of the very few things we ever bonded over was over Mister Rogers and Mr. Speedy Delivery Man and King Friday and the rest of the neighborhood. Our paths never crossed much in his youth, as he lived with Mom and I lived with Dad after our parents divorced. My first (and as it turned out only) year of college was the first year we lived under the same roof for any extended period of time since he was a baby. He didn’t care much about movies and I wasn’t too fond of whatever six years olds do. But every morning, before I would drive him to school on the way to college, we’d plop down on the couch with our bowls of cereal and spend a half hour with Fred.
David’s now 22 and in his fifth year of studies at UC Santa Barbara. At least I think he is. Last time I talked to him was in October, when I called him on his birthday. Like I said, we’ve never been close. We spent ten minutes talking, and I was made to feel I was pulling him away from something more important, like a friend standing nearby with a beer bong ready and waiting for consumption.
Dave and I have always been a matter of contrast. He enjoys surfing and water polo. I prefer baseball and hockey. He listens to Sublime and The Offspring. I go for John Lee Hooker and Miles Davis. He brews his own beer. I buy my tequila by the gallon.
So I miss the kid. Hopefully, when we’re both a bit more mature, we’ll rediscover each other. Maybe some morning, when he’s hung over from the latest frat party, he’ll be sitting in front of the TV flipping through the channels and come across one of the Neighborhood reruns on the local PBS station and think of his bro.
Fred, best of luck in whatever you choose to do. You made the world a little better place to live.