When I was young, television was only on a few hours in the morning and a few in the evening. My grandmother used to be an avid tv watcher and I would sit at her feet, enthralled with this new addition to our household. One of the things we really enjoyed watching was The Mickey Mouse Club.
In those years, the Mousketeers would perform skits, Spin and Marty and The Hardy Boys would have a segment and usually a cartoon. It was a great thing for my generation and one we look back on fondly.
Annette Funicello was one of the first Mousketeers that I remember. All the little girls wanted to be like her and all the boys had a crush on her. As she grew older, this was reinforced on both sides because of her beauty and charm.
Those of us with MS began to think of her in a different light a few years ago when she was one of the first “stars” to make known that she had this disease and what it was doing to her mind and body. She filmed quite a few segments that showed her progression with this disease and filmed numerous spots trying to ask for money to aid in the quest for a cure. She became even more dear to those of us who were fighting the battle with her.
I have a cousin who lives in California. She worked in the Safeway HR office in Fremont. In 1989, Annette was there to talk to the company officials about some commercials she planned to do for Armandino frozen foods. She brought some photos with her and autographed them for everyone.
My cousin says that she was very friendly and chatted with all of them while she signed the photos. She recalls that Annette was very tiny and thin but had not told the public yet that she was battling MS.
She sent me a copy of the photo she received from Annette and the following comment:
“…….I cherish the photo of her and the memories. I would like to say that she is a hero of mine…..keep up the fight and I will pray for a cure, the sooner the better…..”
As one who grabs onto anything I can to find some good in, I find that there is nothing bad I can find about Annette. She was, indeed, an MS hero and fought the good fight as long as she could. Although her form of MS was aggressive and when her life ended her body had been ravaged by the disease, she never complained and always had a smile and kind word for anyone she saw. She was a wonderful example for those of us with MS (and anyone else) and I hope to grow more like her each day and not give in to the pain and suffering.
I pray that one day I will be in The Mickey Mouse Club in Heaven standing beside her. Until then, when I think of her it will always bring a smile to my face and a warm spot in my heart.