This morning, I came across a Vanity Fair article about a Valentine’s Day video Mr. Van Dyke recently did with his wife, Arlene Silver. In it, they sing “Everybody Loves a Lover” by Robert Allen and Richard Adler, dance and laugh, backed by The Vantastix and Tony Guerrero on trumpet — and he even has a memorable move at the end for anyone who watched “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”
In comments about the video, I saw over and over again just how much people love Mr. Van Dyke (and I just can’t stop myself from calling him “Mr.” — it’s because I’ve loved him since I was a child, watching him in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Mary Poppins,” and, of course, “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and more recently “Night at the Museum“).
But the love I feel and the love I was reading about from others goes beyond his power to entertain. I believe it’s because we sense in him a kind soul. And, as children, I believe we sense that even sooner — and truer. Like we did with Mr. Rogers.
I saw this same kind of outpouring for Robin Williams.
And, of course, for all of the women and men throughout time who we felt at their core were kind, and often, just a little bit odd. Like we often felt.
I know that, on the day Mr. Van Dyke is no longer with us, I’ll grieve. Is that crazy since I obviously don’t know him? No, I don’t believe so. And I don’t believe you believe so either.
Of course, I won’t only be grieving as the adult me, but as the child me who didn’t feel quite so alone when he was there — even if it was on a TV screen.
I’ll also be grieving for another reason.
Because, in addition to being kind, even at 96, he’s still child-like.
Like Robin was. Like Mr. Rogers was.
And we can never have too many people in this world who are both.
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