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Mr Rogers' Last Goodbye Before His Death Is As Heartbreaking As It Is Beautiful

It doesn't matter how old you are today, you have probably watched Mister Rogers' Neighborhood back in the day, and it taught you a lot of valuable lessons.

Even if you're among the few that did not tune into the show, you can't deny the influence the red sweater-wearing American icon had on children and adults alike.

While many children's shows from that era focused on simply entertaining, the ever so insightful Fred Rogers made sure his television program delivered important messages to his audience in a direct yet gentle approach.

The beloved show ran from 1966 to 2001, which made it the longest-running children's show on television until Sesame Street eventually broke the streak.

Mr. Fred Rogers
Russell Moore

Mr. Rogers sadly passed away in 2003, following stomach cancer complications, but his legacy continues to live on in many ways.

In addition to being a TV host, writer, musician, producer, and Presbyterian minister, Mr. Rogers was also a brilliant advocate for important causes and an expert in giving out timeless advice that people of all ages could benefit from.

Even in the months leading up to his death, an ill Mr. Rogers took the time to impart some of his wisdom onto us.

At the end of 2002, he shared a powerful video message for those who grew up watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and it's one of the last things he recorded before he passed away on February 27, 2003.

You can watch the video below:

He always knew exactly what to say to make us feel better. Let's take a look at some examples:

On love:

"Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like "struggle." To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now."

On change:

"Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else."

On civic duty:

"If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person."

You can watch the video below which I just love:

On caring for those around you:

"If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person."
Church Militant

On dealing with pain:

"There is no normal life that is free of pain. It's the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth."

On facing our feelings:

"Confronting our feelings and giving them appropriate expression always takes strength, not weakness. It takes strength to acknowledge our anger, and sometimes more strength yet to curb the aggressive urges anger may bring and to channel them into nonviolent outlets. It takes strength to face our sadness and to grieve and to let our grief and our anger flow in tears when they need to. It takes strength to talk about our feelings and to reach out for help and comfort when we need it."

On forgiveness:

"Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies than our friends. It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love. Like all of life's important coping skills, the ability to forgive and the capacity to let go of resentments most likely take root very early in our lives."

On peace:

"Peace means far more than the opposite of war!"

A farewell message

After decades of teaching us to love ourselves and our neighbors, Mr. Rogers still had one more message before the cameras turned off one last time.

His speech, which was filmed after the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, was aimed at both his young and old fans, and it's a reminder about the important things in life, the importance of expressing our feelings, and how proud he is of all of us.

Mr. Rogers started his heart-to-heart by explaining that every time he is walks down the street, an older fans, around "20,30 or 40 years old, will strike a conversation with him.

"And then they tell me about growing up with the neighborhood and how they're passing on to the children they know what they found to be important in our television work. Like expressing their feelings through music, and art, and dance, and sports, and drama, and computers and writing. "And invariably we end our little time together with a hug."
Mr. Rogers poses with a group of children
Snappy New Day

Seeing those who grew up watching his show turn into successful adults, who are now passing down the lessons to their own kids, was something that made Mr. Rogers extremely proud.

"I'm just so proud of all of you who have grown up with us," said Mr. Rogers. "I know how tough it is some days to look with hope and confidence on the months and years ahead."

This is the part where you'll need to grab tissues because there is no way you can get through the rest of this poignant message without getting teary eyed.

If there's anything Mr. Rogers wants his fans to remember it is that he likes them simply for who they are. He made sure to emphasize this in his parting message.

"I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger. I like you just the way you are. And what's more, I'm so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you'll do everything you can to keep them safe. And to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods. It's such a good feeling to know that we're lifelong friends."

It's been 15 years since the icon died, but his words are still just as poignant and reassuring as ever.

In addition to remembering the wonderful host by his wisdom, people are paying tribute to Mr. Rogers in other amazing ways.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville has been working a documentary that highlights Mr. Rogers' life and work.

The trailer for the documentary aptly titled Won't You Be My Neighbor, was recently released, and it is a tearjerker.

The documentary will feature footage of Mr. Rogers on the set of his show as well as off-screen, interviews with those who helped him create his children's show, including Elizabeth Seamans and Francois Clemmons, who played Mrs. McFeely and Officer Clemmons, respectively.

The new trailer also touches on Mr. Rogers' approach to covering tough topics like racism, divorce, and death. He made it easy for children to understand these issues.

In a voice over, Mr. Rogers can be heard saying, "The greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know that they're loved and capable of loving."

At the Sundace premiere of the film, Neville described his documentary as "therapy for adults."

Critics are already praising the film, which premieres on June 8. Variety critic Amy Nicholson wrote that the documentary is "not a complex portrait," it's like "comfort food in an uncertain era."

I can't wait to watch the entire thing! Mr. Rogers had a huge influence on my life growing up, and I still cherish every memory I have of watching his show.

To this day, whenever I feel down, I watch his videos or read his quotes to lift up my spirits.

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Awa has been writing for Shared for 3 years. She is a serial snacker who unapologetically loves celebrity gossip. Drop her a line at awa@shared.com.