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Valerie Harper

Last January, when I heard that Valerie Harper was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis (try saying that), and was given only three months to live, I was shocked and saddened.

I love Valerie. We all love Valerie. We loved her as Mary Richard’s next door neighbor and best friend, Rhoda Morgenstern, on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” We loved her spin-off, “Rhoda,” and later, her show “Valerie.” She played a matter of fact, but kind and lovable (did I mention funny) neighbor and friend on all three shows.

After the diagnosis, Harper came out and spoke about her illness, her zest for life, and her “live life to the fullest” attitude. So when I read that she had signed to be a contestant on “Dancing With The Stars,” I shouldn’t have been surprised … but I was. Harper says her husband is the one who really wanted her to do “DWTS.” He didn’t want her to give up. He told her she had to do it.rhoda

Harper signed on, and at 74, is the oldest in the competition and is “pretty close to remission, it defies odds,” her doctors say.

On opening night, Harper said, “I was given a death sentence … and here it is, eight, nine months later. I’m way past my expiration date, and I’m dancing!” “It’s good to be alive, and even better to be dancing!

Her debut brought a standing ovation from the crowd, and tears to the eyes of judge Carrie Ann Inaba. It brought tears to my eyes too.

Valerie, you have a wonderful attitude, a kind heart, and you are a true inspiration to all of us. Keep fighting and stay true to yourself. We are rooting for you!

Who else thinks Valerie is an inspiration? I’m going to find some reruns of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and watch our old friend Rhoda. She brings a smile to my face.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks so much, Kimberly, for your touching tribute to Valerie Harper. She is indeed an inspiration – on so many levels. There may be an even greater teach-by-example lesson in this for all of us.

    In our age-centric culture, if you’ve blown out 50 candles and you’re not – in the world’s opinion – at the top of your game (some might argue that the zenith of Ms. Harper’s career happened in the 70s), conventional thinking would advise to sit it out and watch by the sidelines. But despite the severity of her health challenge, and with an oftentimes less-than-generous public eye upon her, Ms. Harper has shone as brightly as ever. And she’s done it not by embodying a character whose words came courtesy of a screenwriter or by following the suggestions of an acclaimed director. Rather, she did it simply by being herself and allowing her true essence to be seen.

    Notwithstanding that I’m optimistic by nature, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ms. Harper goes on to become a centenarian – in part because of her very evident zest for life, as you so aptly called it. But also in part because she has been so uniformly loved and embraced by the world. Imagine if we all lived from a place of respect, caring, and kindness toward self and others, celebrating each day in human form as a victory over the obvious alternative. What a world this would be.

    A link to my April 27, 2013 letter to Ms. Harper follows directly below:

    http://www.edwardfranco.com/Letter_to_Valerie_Harper.html

  2. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, Ed. Yes, love this:

    “Imagine if we all lived from a place of respect, caring, and kindness toward self and others, celebrating each day in human form as a victory over the obvious alternative. What a world this would be.”

    So very true.

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