It’s hard to believe that legendary actor and comedian Robin Williams has died, taking his own life after suffering from depression and addiction. It’s been clear since the news hit, that so many were impacted by his talent and kindheartedness, and loved him enough to pay tribute to him. That rings true as well for Lisa Jakub.
For those of you who may not remember, Lisa played the role of Lydia Hillard in the classic film, Mrs. Doubtfire, in which Robin starred as a man who, in the midst of a divorce, was so desperate to be around his children that he disguised himself as their nanny. Lydia, the oldest, shared a special bond with her dad, and, eventually, Mrs. Doubtfire herself.
Lisa has long since given up acting, instead focusing her interests on being a writer. In a tribute to Robin published to her personal blog, she spoke on how the actor changed her life. At the time of filming the movie, she was 14, and, one day, was expelled for missing five months of school for shooting. In the post, she calls the experience “devastating, feeling like “a freak and a reject.” Robin instantly felt for her and did an astonishing thing. Lisa wrote:
When I arrived at work the next day, Robin noticed that I was upset and asked me what was wrong. I explained what had happened, and the next day, he handed me a letter that he wrote to my school. He explained that I was just trying to continue my education while pursuing my career. He wrote embarrassingly kind things about my character and my work, and requested that they reconsider and allow me to return to my classes.
When I told him I still didn’t think they would take me back, he said, “It’s kinda like Amnesty International. That school just needs to know that people know the truth.”
Ultimately, the administrators did not take back their decision (although they kept and actually framed Robin’s letter, the jerks!). However, Lisa said that, in that moment, Robin changed her life by showing just that small nugget of kindness, and teaching her a very valuable lesson: “You stand up for the things that matter. And even if your attempts fail, you tried.”
Though she wrote him a thank you note then, she assumed, that “there would be some future opportunity to tell him that his letter changed my life.” After hearing of Robin’s passing, Lisa wrote of another clear lesson:
If you have someone in your life that you are grateful for — someone to whom you want to write another heartfelt, slanted, misspelled thank you note -– do it. Tell them they made you feel loved and supported. That they made you feel like you belonged somewhere and that you were not a freak. Tell them all of that.
It’s sad knowing that Robin is gone. Devastating really, for those of us who grew up on his films. However, little stories like this that are pouring in help in making me smile, knowing just how kind and awesome Robin Williams truly was.
Image via Lisa Jakub