Sept. 24 was Jim Henson's birthday. Were he still alive, the puppeteer extraordinaire would have turned 77. Though the brilliant creator of The Muppets, "Sesame Street" and "Fraggle Rock" is no longer with us, his vibrant, creative spirit continues to live on through his art and the bevy of iconic characters he created, including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Big Bird. Henson also left behind words of comfort to those he loved best.
On Tuesday, in commemoration of Henson's birth, the website Letters of Note posted the text of two moving letters that the puppet master wrote before his death -- one addressed to his five children, the other to friends and family.
Opened after Henson's death, the letters are full of wisdom and humor and serve as a reminder to all of us to grab life by the horns and love the people who matter most in our lives.
To his children, he wrote:
First of all, don't feel bad that I'm gone. While I will miss spending time with each of you, I'm sure it will be an interesting time for me and I look forward to seeing all of you when you come over. To each of you I send my love. If on this side of life I'm able to watch over and help you out, know that I will. If I can't, I'm sure I can at least be waiting for you when you come over. This all may sound silly to you guys, but what the hell, I'm gone -- and who can argue with me?
Life is meant to be fun, and joyous, and fulfilling. May each of yours be that -- having each of you as a child of mine has certainly been one of the good things in my life. Know that I've always loved each of you with an eternal, bottomless love. A love that has nothing to do with each other, for I feel my love for each of you is total and all-encompassing. Please watch out for each other and love and forgive everybody. It's a good life, enjoy it.
Henson died on May 16, 1990, of organ failure caused by a streptococcal infection. He was 53.
"What was remarkable was that a man best known for his quiet gentleness left such a resounding echo in the world upon leaving it," wrote People magazine of the Muppets mastermind in 1990. "[Henson], along with his endearing menagerie of creatures, had undoubtedly secured a niche as one of the most universally beloved entertainers of his generation."