I met Mary twice. Although one time was really more of a sighting. I was walking down the street in Manhattan when all of a sudden she appeared walking past me. I remember because, after all, it was Mary Tyler Moore.
The same Mary Tyler Moore I spent my high school and college years with along with Rhoda on the groundbreaking TV sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore show. TV Mary was loved for her come-back-up-from-being-knocked-down, can-do spirit. The real Mary showed much of the same spirit as an advocate for type 1 diabetes (T1D) for decades. At times people said, “Isn’t she too old?” But she widened the circle; she showed the world T1D wasn’t just a disease of children.
Moore got T1D in her thirties. She lived with it for almost 50 years, and had complications like vision loss. Yet, I never heard her grumble.
The first time I met Mary was at a book signing she was doing at Barnes & Noble. I went. When I reached her to sign her book, I was awful cheeky. I handed her my own book, The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes, “Please,” I said, “allow me to share a gift with you. I hope you like it.” She was gracious. It was a moment.
Life is moments. As you get older you realize how quickly they go. This week, after just returning from 18 days in Israel, I have a funeral to go to tomorrow after a friend just lost her mother. Last night the husband and I attended a memorial service for another friend’s mother who passed.
I heard a long time ago, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” Israelis know this. Maybe because of the precarious place they occupy in the world, both geographic and political. Things happen quickly there. You mention something and someone gets on their cell phone immediately, a meeting is called and it takes place within days. There’s something to be learned from that. Let’s not waste these moments.
Among the many articles I’ve been reading about Moore’s death, this was an interesting tidbit. The original theme song to the Mary Tyler Moore show (Love is all around) opened with these lyrics – “How will you make it on your own?/This world is awfully big, and girl, this time you’re all alone” They were changed to enhance Mary’s and the show’s optimism – “Who can turn the world on with her smile?/Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?”
Since I’m sharing ‘flourishing with diabetes’ it spoke to me. Part of what we create is based on how we see our circumstances. Mary had her demons – two alcoholic parents, alcohol abuse herself, a son die young due to either an accident or suicide when handling a gun, two failed marriages, and a series of failed TV programs after she, Rhoda, Phyllis, Lou, Ted, Murray, Georgette and Sue Ann huddled for their tearful goodbye as the lights went out at WJM Minneapolis. But she was resilient and a fighter.
With love, Mary. Thanks for making us laugh and thanks for fighting for us. You’ll be missed.