I remember watching Mary Tyler Moore in my family room on Schubert Avenue cuddled up in my yellow bean bag with my chips and soda. I don’t remember any particular episode but I do remember loving the opening music and the scene where she tosses her beret into the sky. I don’t know why that scene stuck with me when I was ten but in looking back all those years ago, I have to guess it was the joy of becoming an adult. Being free of the chains of parents and school. Living in a big city, buying your own groceries, working, and walking through the park all by yourself. All of the promise and joy ahead for my ten-year old self.
I watched a clip of the beginning of the show and I get teary-eyed. Why? Numerous reasons, I guess. Thinking of my
heartache and confusion as a pre-teen. Thinking of the innocence and playfulness I possessed at that age. Thinking of Maria growing up with Barbie and Bratz and hoping that she sees enough strong women in her life to turn into one. Thinking of Mario and hoping he marries one. Thinking of how short this life is; disbelieving that MTM is 75 years old today (http://entertainment.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/28/9774970-happy-75th-birthday-mary-tyler-moore). Wasn’t it just yesterday I sat in that bean bag chair and watched her show? How has thirty years passed in a toss of a hat?
I attended an event probably five years ago on behalf of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio. Mary Tyler Moore was the keynote speaker. She amazed me without even saying a word; just seeing her in person awed me. She discussed her life with the audience of mostly women. We all listened intently. She described her battle with Type 1 diabetes, her role in Ordinary People, her times on the MTM show, and her revelation that life can be rough but you simply need to lift your chin and forge your own path.
She acted as a role model for me without me even noticing for years. It was not until I sat in that chair at the Ohio Theatre and listened to her speak that I realized what a profound effect she had on me starting at age ten. Here I was a professional, charismatic, independent, passionate woman just like Ms. Moore. I guess I made it after all….