Mork and Mindy was regular Monday night viewing at our house, I took comfort from its innocent humour during my own age of innocence, going to sleep each night with the closing sentiment of ‘Nanu Nanu’ still making me smile.
When I was a little girl my parents divorced scattering familial fragments far and wide as my Dad moved across the world while my mother stayed in the UK with my brother and I. I prayed night after night for my Dad to return and while I knew how much he loved his children I also knew that a life divided was the future I must get used to. I remember watching Mrs Doubtfire through tears as I witnessed the lengths a father would go to in order to be with his children, wishing my own father would do something as drastic as assume a female guise just to be in our lives.
We would travel to Israel every summer, where my Dad’s family live to reunite for a fortnight in a sunlit paradise where we could forget about real life and just enjoy each other’s company. Aladdin was one of the few Disney videos my aunt and uncle had in their house and every afternoon without fail, after a morning spent in the swimming pool, Dad and me would hunker down in the relative cool of his sister’s living room and watch Robin Williams’ comic genius flow out of that magic lamp and capture our hearts and funny bones time and time again.
It might sound strange but I formed a connection with this great actor that had everything to do with trying to retain some semblance of a mutual bond with my Dad. When you don’t spend your life with someone but collect snippets and glimpses of who they are through phone calls and occasional visits and reflections of others who know them, you have no choice but to create an ideal of who you think they are and possibly who you’d like them to be. My Dad loves Robin Williams, his films are among my Dad’s favourites and though this encouraged my own admiration and affection for Williams’ canon of cinematic greatness, it was the devoted father in Mrs Doubtfire, the confidant in Good Will Hunting, the fairytale foe to Dustin Hoffman’s Hook, the unique voice in Good Morning Vietnam, the kind-hearted doctor in Patch Adams, the inspirational teacher in Dead Poets Society that made me fall in love with this amazing man.
Never have I been so affected by the passing of someone I never actually met, but I feel a sense of helplessness that I didn’t do something to help him. I, like many many others, enjoyed his talent, sitting down in front of the TV of an evening and switching him on to entertain me while I eat my dinner but what of the man behind the screen, the script, the character. What about Robin Williams? I feel for his family and friends and I pray he finds the peace he craves knowing all the while how painfully he will be missed, how much he gave to this world and how his iconic memory and legend will live on through the wonderful characters he portrayed that revealed but elements of the real Robin Williams.