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Robin Williams

Josh told me about Robin Williams while I was in the middle of cooking dinner.

I spent most of the time that I was stirring the sauce thinking about his children.

Then I thought about the Mork suspenders I wore in elementary school, and how I got bullied for wearing them, not least of which because Mork was a boy and I was a girl.  I remember letting them dangle off my shoulders, like Marty McFly, and wondering if that made it any better.  (Side note: it didn’t.)

And then I thought about the summer I saw Dead Poets Society six times in the theater.  Back then, a movie came out and you watched it more than once if you really liked it because (1) it would be more than a year before it was released on tape, and (2) the chances of your parents buying you the tape to own was slim-to-none.

I was a volunteer at a hospital that summer, changing linens and making beds, and when I had free time, I would go and sit in people’s rooms and play cards with them.  I mostly picked elderly women, but there was one guy whose room I went to often who was 26, so we had conversations beyond, “do you have a beau?”  He had been in the hospital for weeks, so he hadn’t seen Dead Poets Society, and I got to tell him the whole plotline since he would miss the theatrical run and have to wait a year to see the movie.

He thought it was ridiculous that I kept going back to see the same film instead of seeing a new film, but I argued that I was seeing it with different people and therefore it felt like a different film each time.

And finally I just told him the truth: the movie made me feel good.  For two hours, despite the sad ending, I felt really happy visiting those characters.  They made me so happy that I bought the novelization of the movie from B. Dalton’s in the mall, even though novelizations of movies were always crap.

There are so many times in life when you feel awful; if you can grab two hours and feel really happy, shouldn’t you grab it as many times as you can?


1 Tara K { 08.11.14 at 8:48 pm }

I saw DPS in the theater, too…and we all wore the suspenders in my elementary school days – boy or girl – and said shazbat a lot!

I thought of his children immediately as well when I heard the news, and then, as with Philip Seymour Hoffman, thought, “what a waste.”


2 loribeth { 08.11.14 at 9:03 pm }

@Tara: My thoughts as well. What a waste, and how horribly, horribly sad. 🙁 Damn depression. 🙁

Seems he has been part of my life for so long, starting with Mork & Mindy when I was a teenager. And while he was certainly hilariously, exhaustingly funny, he was also an incredibly powerful dramatic actor.

3 a { 08.11.14 at 9:23 pm }

My husband met him in Uzbekistan. Such a sad thing for his whole family (and the rest of us).

I love Dead Poets’ Society.

4 Ashlee { 08.11.14 at 9:56 pm }

My heart has been heavy ever since I heard the news… I’ve had trouble holding back my tears. I think it says so much about this wonderful, talented man that so many of us are so impacted by his death. Depression is not something to take lightly, and no one is immune. I love the way you ended your post, and I wholeheartedly agree.

5 Alexicographer { 08.11.14 at 10:49 pm }

Oh my. I just heard about Robin Williams from — you. How terribly sad.

6 Kathy { 08.12.14 at 12:46 am }

Most of the movies I saw/the hours I have spent watching Robin Williams have made me so very happy, they’ve made me think and cry too. I am better for his sharing his gifts with so many through his craft and I am sad we won’t get to see anything new from him. I do believe he is at peace and will find comfort in watching my fav of his movies over and over again (especially DPS and GWH). Thank you for writing about this, I came here hoping you had. xoxo

7 Mali { 08.12.14 at 1:23 am }

I’m so glad you have happy memories of Robin Williams’ talent. He was so brilliant. It’s a good reminder for us all to remember to love who and what we have, and to appreciate those things that make us happy. Right. Now.

8 SuzannaCatherine { 08.12.14 at 3:56 am }

Such a sad day. The whole world will miss Robin Williams’ great talent. My heart goes out to his family and his many friends. When I thought of Robin Williams today on learning of his death, I remembered an article I read shortly before Schindler’s List was released. In the article, published by The New Yorker I believe, Steven Spielberg told of his melancholy while he was filming in Poland. He gave Robin Williams the credit for keeping him going during the weeks of emotionally and physically draining location work. Spielberg said when the story became too much to bear he would call his friend Robin who would know just what to say to lift his dark mood.
RIP, Robin Williams. You made Steven Spielberg laugh and you made millions of anonymous fans laugh, too. RIP.

9 Tiara { 08.12.14 at 5:21 am }

I like how Kathy put it. I, too have had many happy times enjoying Robin Williams performances, & am grateful he shared his gift. My heart is with his family

10 andy { 08.12.14 at 7:21 am }

It is a sad day when such a light is extinguished.

11 Katie { 08.12.14 at 10:06 am }

I read your post last night, and again this morning. Dead Poets Society was my favorite Robin Williams movie, with Good Will Hunting running a close second. He inspired so many with his spirit, and I am grateful we had him to do so — if only for a little while.

12 Pepper { 08.12.14 at 4:46 pm }

I still have my Mork suspenders. I will be sharing them with my daughters one day because they are quirky girls, too.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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