I wrote this the day she died in 2013…
I didn’t exist…not quite my era
when she smiled –
donning black felt mouse’s ears
black and white images, perfection
personified on Zenith television sets
around the world, as millions watched
dining on TV Dinners
adored in happy homes
this all American girl from
next door – a member of the kiddie club.
I didn’t exist…not quite yet
when she smiled at Frankie,
donning swimsuits on surfboards
colorful, sunny images where
dreamers & movie theaters
around the world & millions of
hopeful teens saw sweetness,
goodness admired, this girl next door
now a member of the boomer club.
I met her after school…and on Sunday evenings –
Together, smiling in the Magic Kingdom
as re-runs of black felt mouse’s ears
immortalized the epitome of
charming innocence, beach blanket fun, &
panorama-vision with colors which made my
Sony television set alive.
This was a moment of design –
To be healthy, hopeful, &
forever youthful, albeit a momentary
fantasy…covered in pixie dust –
Years passed before news, diagnostics, &
the realization of this disease debacle, then
I too had become a member
of a club like no other, a club whose
membership roster continues
to grow like wildfire.
I couldn’t yet comprehend the pain
which lurked behind her smile while
donning leg braces in chairs with wheels –
black and white or color filled
her life on television sets
viewed by millions
confused by the disease, distraught these
boomers & future generations;
mouseketeer wanna-be’s unable to
identify with or relate to
members of the disabled club.
I feel…I think…I know her well these days –
as sisters & strangers with multiple scars
our badge of honor or initiation into the MS Club.
My smile now hides the pain
others can’t comprehend, but with bittersweet resilience, this smile holds the beauty & the power instilled within that of a MSketeer.
by MPP 6/2013 ~ edited 4/2017
ABOUT MARY ~
Mary is a patient advocate for MS, chronic illness & disabilities. She is a freelance writer from Texas who enjoys exploring a variety of different styles & genres, however her deep passion for creative writing (poetry, essay, narrative interview & non-fiction) remains unwavering & purposeful. Mary's personal & professional background is an eclectic compilation consisting of the fine arts, civil rights advocacy, fundraising with 15 years in sales/marketing & event planning in the private club industry. Mary is a 1990 graduate from The University of North Texas with a B.S. in Hotel/Restaurant Management. In 2001, Mary was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Within a few years, health issues forced her to resign from the career she loved. As her marriage began to crumble, Mary was keenly aware of the emotional & mental crisis firmly taking hold. Eventually, she sought the help of a professional therapist which helped her learn the important coping skills needed to tame/calm mood disorders & to encourage healthy ways in which to purge the noisy chaos inside the brain. This loss of reality, normalcy, & PURPOSE needed to be reinvented, renewed & rewritten...NOW! The divorce & all related proceedings lasted an unfathomable six years, yet it was the therapy, communities & her writing which kept her most grounded. Each poem a cathartic purge, each word a therapeutic tool meant for healing & to inspire resilience. Blindsided by this newfound purpose & passion, Mary continues writing & exploring a plethora of multimedia outlets to this day. Her writing, networking & advocacy projects target the MS, chronic illness & disability communities. Her interactive presence can be seen throughout social media. Although MS is the primary community in which she advocates, Mary enjoys playing an active role in other patient communities (bloggers, writers, music, live chats, special events, & many more. One of the key messages Mary continues to emphasize is how chronic illness can affect everyone differently. MS is a prime example in that we are not a "one size fits all." This disease called MS is a conundrum in every which way. To this day, research continues, yet we still don't know the root cause for MS, yet current findings now show "risk factors" for the disease. MS can morph as it sees fit to do so. Unpredictably, silently, sometimes relentlessly this MS becomes an uninvited, unwanted "internal room-mate." Mary's overall background & her desire to discover herself & new creative outlets was a plus. A renewed student for life, Mary continues to explore the unknown - Once you switch off your "auto pilot" it's amazing what you can see & do. Place focus on learning, consume new information & participate in activities uncharted or foreign (The science of Neuroplasticity). All of this is most DEFINITELY a work in progress, but remember to focus most on the important things in life. Laugh out loud & live selflessly with compassion, purpose & unbridled passion.
Connect with Mary at:
🔸Twitter: @pettigrew66, @MSpals
Acknowledgments and Press ~ UPDATES TO COME
* Creator & Co-founder of MSpals: A Global Organization (2014 - present)
* Administrator & contributing author of content, posts, & interviews: MSpals blog:
~ The Summer of Sport: Forward Poetry 2012
~ Poetry Rivals Collection 2013
~ Something On Our Minds Vol.III
~ Something On Our Minds Vol IV.
Interviews: National Multiple Sclerosis Society's "Momentum Magazine"
~ 2013 = Art Therapy & MS
~ 2015 = Connecting Via Social Media
Other works also featured on a variety of blogs, websites, videos, as well as other multimedia platforms including:
iConquerMS/The Accelerated Cure Project
WEGO Health - Patient Leader
HealtheVoices - Patient Leader
MS Focus - Monthly contributor
View all posts by Mary
2 thoughts on “ELEGY FOR A MOUSEKETEER (tribute to Annette Funicello)”
How lovely. 🙂 I didn’t realize the mousketeers began in that era. Thanks for visiting my blog, Mary, and I look forward to your future posts!
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If my memory serves me, she pushed on for so many years. I also remember watching her on a Zenith television. To be honest, I had a big crush on Annette. She was my favorite. So many people, put on a Happy face for others. I admit I have done the same thing. I can only say it’s not fair to the ones who truly care. But its even more difficult, not to try and protect them.
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