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Posted by on Feb 3, 2017 in News, Type 1 Diabetes | 8 comments

Remembering Mary Tyler Moore

Remembering Mary Tyler Moore

I took over a week to write this blog because of the passing of my friend, Rose Schonberger (Shosh).  I actually almost had it competed when I heard about Shosh and I had to put this down to focus on my many thoughts about Shoshana.  I realize this is old news, but for my blog I do more reflection than news, so I hope this reflection adds to the reader’s remembrance of Mary Tyler Moore.

For me, Mary Tyler Moore represented what it meant to be both successful and a person with Type 1 diabetes.   My parents and I watched her program each week and I can recall my mother saying she has type 1 diabetes like I do.  Meaning like my mom did.  Her apparent health gave me hope and by extension the belief that my mom might be OK.  I can recall when I was diagnosed with diabetes that my mom said, you can do anything and Mom used Mary Tyler Moore as an example of a successful person with diabetes.

American feminism defined

Mary Tyler Moore represented American feminism in the 1970’s as America’s most successful middle aged working woman on TV who was not married.  The Mary Tyler Moore Show was about adults facing adult issues, in an adult and humorous way.  We often forget that the Mary Tyler Moore Show was about women making it in the world without a man to guide them and doing so successfully.  It was as much a revelation in sitcoms as was All in the Family, That Girl or the Jefferson’s to name a few.

Mary Tyler Moore was diagnosed with diabetes at age 33 and she embraced being a person with type 1 diabetes during her career.  For me, when I was diagnosed in 1974 I learned something about how to say I have diabetes from Mary Tyler Moore.  I can say that when I saw such a successful person with type 1 diabetes I related to her career and causes.

In later years I followed Mary Tyler Moore’s struggle with retinopathy and I always marveled at what a remarkable figure she was both for the diabetes community and as a woman who never let diabetes get in her way as an actress or human being.

More than diabetes

But she was about more than just diabetes.  She embraced animal rights organizations and commented that she wished to be remembered as an animal rights activist.  Most of us are content to be remembered for one thing, let alone two major causes.

Most of my readers know that my mother was very ill with complications from type 1 diabetes beginning in the 1960’s until 1986 when she passed at age 46.  When I was 13 and heard Mary Tyler Moore had diabetes it gave me hope that my mother might be ok, hope for my mother’s health was in short supply then.  When I heard that Mary Tyler Moore had retinopathy and was using laser treatments like my mother she gave me a belief that my mother might one day see again.    When my mother died, Mary Tyler Moore’s advocacy for diabetes causes gave me an example of what I, as a person with type 1 diabetes, should do for my community.    When Mary Tyler Moore died last week I cried and said thank you for her 50+ years of service to my community.

I know we have lost a friend of our community, but like many of us who loved her advocacy I feel like I have lost a friend of the family.

t’s a long way to Tipperary,

It’s a long way to go.

It’s a long way to Tipperary

To the sweetest girl I know!




  1. Rick, this is beautiful. I actually didn’t know she was an animal activist. I too loved Mary. My own young adult children have watched her in both The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. One never grows tired of watching her. She was an amazing role model for so many.

    • Cathy, I have been looking back over my site and I found this long ago comment, I am so sorry I missed it when you submitted it. Yes Mary Tyler Moore was an outstanding example of a person with chronic issues overcoming obstacles. During the Katie Couric interview

      , she was actually mostly blind and as I watched her on the set, she reminded me so much of my mom at the end of her life. We have come a long way in diabetes management.

  2. “…and last night I thought ‘what is a family anyways?’ They’re just people that make you feel less alone and really loved…”

    That brought a tear to my eye when I think about the village of people I’ve found in the DOC. I’ve only ever met a small handful of them face to face but some days they have been a life boat for me. They understand parts of me more than my closest friends. I’d say that’s a family.

    That’s a lovely and beautiful tribute Rick. Thank you for helping me understand her contribution to our community by sharing her meaning in your life.

    You were my unicorn Rick. I thought I was the only one on the planet that was LUCKY enough to have T1 and RA. Then I found you and my life was instantaneously changed for the better because there was someone else out there just like me.

    Most days I don’t think about it, however, some of those days early on in my RA diagnosis that’s all that helped me get by was knowing Rick was out there. That’s the best tribute you could ever perform for Mary Tyler Moore. You showed me it could be done with grace and humor.

    Thank you my friend.

    • Thank you for the very kind words, Aaron. I believe that all of us who deal with RA and Diabetes do the best we can with this jounrey. I discovered a while ago that we get the privilege of being part of two great communities. I have received a great deal of help from both communities and they are terrific. I hope you will get the opportunity to check out some the Diabetes and RA sites. We have some wonderful resources available.

  3. I read this post with tears in my eyes. It’s just that beautiful. Your poor mother, trying to deal with diabetes back then must have been unbelievably difficult. I’m sorry you lost her so soon. I can see why Mary meant so much to you, she was your mother’s symbol of hope for you, hope that your life with t1d would be better than hers. Thank you for this beautiful glimpse into your life. Such a lovely tribute.

    • Thank you for the kind note Alana. Mom suffered a great deal but those were thankfully very different days.

    • It would be an honor if you reblog this item. Feel free to do so

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