Robin Williams (1951-2014)

As a few days have been put behind us, I read over news articles, blog posts, Facebook status updates, Twitter tweets … and all I can see through all the sadness, drama and occasional negativity is that the world lost a great man. A man who was giving, who loved to make people laugh, who make mistakes and owned up to them. A loving and admired father, husband (to several wives, yes, but still,) and friend. Robin Williams was an original one of a kind, and he will be missed as we move on and the world takes us toward another day.

My first experience with Robin Williams was Mork & Mindy. I absolutely loved that show and watched it religiously. Of course, I caught the reruns, being just a wee lad when they originally aired. It was, come to think of it, probably my first exposure to the sci-fi genre of movies and television. That is pretty impressionable, considering how big of a sci-fi nerd I became over the years. But of course, discovering Robin Williams on television as the lovable Mork didn’t prepare me for the true comedy stylings of Mr. Williams. That came later on in my life, and while I’ve never been a huge fan of vulgarity in comedy, I admit to Mr. Williams having a way with his antics. 

His movies, from Popeye to Old Dogs, back to his return to television with The Crazy Ones, I always made sure to check in on Robin Williams and see what crazy hijinks he was up to. He was a master at improvisation, and someone at work made the comment about the questionable scripts on some of his later movies. I pointed out that with a man like Robin, you can’t write a script and make him read it. His talent came from improvisation. You give him a scene and let the man work, let him own it and play off the talent around him. He could only be as good as those surrounding him, and would always potentially overshadow them when he got into his groove.

I will miss Robin Williams as much as the next fan. I respect him for the battle he fought with his depression and I can say I do understand some of what he possibly went through. It’s a dark and lonely place to venture to, and often against your will. And while we manage our own emotions at losing such a passionate human being, we should also realize that our grief is nothing compared to what his family must be dealing with. His children have released statements of their own, each touching and emotional. The one that put a lump in my throat, and at the same time brought a smile to my face, was given by his daughter, Zelda. 

She wrote:

“My family has always been private about our time spent together. It was our way of keeping one thing that was ours, with a man we shared with an entire world. But now that’s gone, and I feel stripped bare. My last day with him was his birthday, and I will be forever grateful that my brothers and I got to spend that time alone with him, sharing gifts and laughter. He was always warm, even in his darkest moments. While I’ll never, ever understand how he could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay, there’s minor comfort in knowing our grief and loss, in some small way, is shared with millions. It doesn’t help the pain, but at least it’s a burden countless others now know we carry, and so many have offered to help lighten the load. Thank you for that.

“To those he touched who are sending kind words, know that one of his favorite things in the world was to make you all laugh. As for those who are sending negativity, know that some small, giggling part of him is sending a flock of pigeons to your house to poop on your car. Right after you’ve had it washed. After all, he loved to laugh too… Dad was, is and always will be one of the kindest, most generous, gentlest souls I’ve ever known, and while there are few things I know for certain right now, one of them is that not just my world, but the entire world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence. We’ll just have to work twice as hard to fill it back up again.”

There are never appropriate words for when a loved one pass. Someone that has been in our lives for as long as we can remember. But when the same can be said of someone we know through television such as Robin Williams, that’s a statement to the kind of man he was. Never mind the demons he fought with in his younger days or the darkness that hung over him that only he could see, Robin Williams will forever be an icon to many of us, a man loved for the joy he brought to so many millions of people all over the world. 

And finally, in closing, a few words from my old friend, Mork from Ork. I think he puts it nicely …

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