Five Years Ago We Lost Robin Williams, Beloved Entertainer and Dad

(HBO/Sonya Sones;Sonya Sones;Instagram/Zelda Williams)

August 11, 2014 was a devastating day. In fact, many of us probably remember where we were when we found out Robin Williams had died. He was a comedy legend, a world-class actor, and a father and friend with an intense love for others. Of course, these famous characteristics were not enough to overcome the intense physical and emotional distress that plagued him later in life.

Now, five years after his passing, Robin’s kids are reflecting on precious interactions with their father and doing their best to honor his legacy while combating the stigma surrounding mental illness.

“Being Robin Williams’ son was wonderful in so many ways [but] having to share him with the world was hard at times,” Zachary Williams said in a recent interview with Good Morning Britain. “When he was having challenges and going through certain things it was heartbreaking because he still went out and wanted to share his feelings of laughter and humor with the world.”

Robin and Zachary Williams
(Getty/ Shawn Ehlers)

In 2013, Robin began experiencing a wide variety of serious physical ailments that were seemingly unconnected. He had trouble seeing and sleeping, constantly suffered indigestion and cramps, and had symptoms of cogwheel rigidity, where a limb would randomly stop itself at certain fixed points in its range of motion.

“It was like this endless parade of symptoms, and not all of them would raise their head at once,” Robin’s wife, Susan, said. “It was like playing whack-a-mole. Which symptom is it this month? I thought, is my husband a hypochondriac? We’re chasing it and there’s no answers, and by now we’d tried everything.”

For nearly a year, his health continued to deteriorate, worsening his already substantial levels of anxiety and depression. Finally, on May 28, 2014, Robin and Susan received an explanation for his strange combination of varying symptoms: Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder that attacks the central nervous system, impairing motor functions and cognition until it eventually takes the victim’s life.

Devastated and terrified, Robin shared the news with his children and others who were closest to him

“I never heard him afraid like that before,” recalled long-time friend and fellow comedian, Billy Crystal. “This was the boldest comedian I ever met—the boldest artist I ever met. But this was just a scared man.”

Robin Williams and Billy Crystal
(Getty/E. Charbonneau)

Robin’s kids began reaching out more often to provide all the love and support they could, in whichever ways possible. Zak still remembers his sense of helplessness trying to diminish his father’s suffering during this time.

“It was really difficult to see someone suffering so silently,” Zak said. “But I think that there were a series of things that stacked, that led to an environment that he felt was one of pain, internal anguish, and one that he couldn’t get out of. And the challenge in engaging with him when he was in that mindset was that he could be soothed, but it’s really hard when you then go back into an environment of isolation. Isolation is not good for Dad and people like him. It’s actually terrible.”

As the disease ran its course, Robin became more and more reclusive. The work and creative outlets that used to bring him so much joy—acting and stand-up comedy—seemed unattainable now. Robin simply didn’t think he was capable of being funny anymore.

On an evening in early August, when Susan was away, Robin visited Zak in San Francisco. He acted as a stranger in his son’s home, walking on eggshells the entire time as if he was somehow intruding. When he eventually got up to leave, Zak asked what it would take to make him stay overnight—would he have to tie him up and throw a bag over him?

“Well, that was a joke,” Zak said in an interview with Vanity Fair with a bittersweet laugh. “To be clear, that was a joke. But we didn’t want someone who seemed like he was in so much anguish to leave. We wanted him to stay with us. We wanted to take care of him.”

Mere days later after returning home, on July 11, 2014, Robin was found dead in his bedroom.

“Sharing the grieving process with the world was hard. At times it was hard to differentiate what involved private grieving, and experiencing that loss, versus public grieving and experiencing that type of community interaction and communicating. I wasn’t prepared,” Zak said. “It was challenging. But I’m very grateful for the outpouring of love and support that continued… Here we are almost five years later. I feel the massive impact and difference he made.”

Zak now serves as a board member for Bring Change To Mind, an organization with the goal of fighting the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness.

According to the Bring Change To Mind website, they “create multimedia campaigns, curate storytelling movements, and develop youth programs to encourage a diverse cultural conversation around mental health.”

 

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“There’s no education in place to tell you how to deal with this. To balance how to grieve privately with your family and then also to have to grieve publicly. While it was nice to be heard, I was spending time on the outer layer instead of on the inside. It wasn’t just the survivor network for me, it was the whole world.” Zak is the son of beloved comedian Robin Williams- a suicide loss survivor, entrepreneur, investor, and mental health advocate. He serves on the board for Bring Change To Mind, an org whose mission is to end the stigma and discrimination around mental illness by creating campaigns, storytelling movements, and youth programs to encourage diverse and cultural conversation around mental health. I prepared for days before, even venting to a dear friend moments before Zak arrived. Would I make a fool of myself? Would I accidentally say ‘Oh Captain, My Captain’ and burst into tears? I was overwhelmed.Then my friend said something important -they said, “Be yourself, share your pain. His pain is the same.Remember who you are and why you’re there.” So that’s what I did. In front of me sat a man who lost a loved one to suicide. A man who understood the same level of devastation as I did, as so many of us do. I shared my story, of attempt and loss. Then I was honored that he shared with me his feelings of loss, devastation and growth. THAT is what I strive for: To create a safe space for ANYONE who’s been touched by suicide so they feel able to share. For 90 min, we were just 2 people who had lost someone, and found a common ground in our pain. After he left, I packed up, got in my car and started to drive.Then immediately I realized, OH YEAH, I’m not ok. I pulled over to the nearest park and I sobbed for 30 minutes. The tears were a culmination of what I’d accomplished in 18 months, they were hearing this man tell me my project was “extraordinary” and that he was happy to be part of it. That somehow, through the death of my sweet brother, I’ve been able to provide a safe space for Zak Williams and so many other people. It was a defining moment for me and for my project. I’m so fortunate to share words and photos from Zak’s session with you all week.

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Robin’s daughter, Zelda, wrote an Instagram post in 2018 detailing the whirlwind of emotion and grief that surrounds the anniversary of her father’s death every year:

It’s that time of year again. Everyone who has dealt with loss knows the pain of certain anniversaries, moments full of memory that come round like clockwork and usurp all others, no matter how hard you may try to prepare for or avoid them. These weeks are the hardest for me, and thus, you’ll see me a lot less, if at all.

For all the internet’s good intentions in expressing to me their fondness for dad, it’s very overwhelming to have strangers need me to know how much they cared for him right now. It’s harder still to be expected to reach back.

So while I’ve got the strength, consider this my one open armed response, before I go take my yearly me time to celebrate his and my birthdays in peace. Thank you for loving him. Thank you for supporting him and his life’s work. Thank you for missing him. I do too.

She went on, encouraging fans to celebrate her father by giving back to their community in tangible ways, just as he preferred to do:

If you’d like to do something in his honor, volunteer at your local homeless shelter, or look up how to make homeless aid backpacks. Give one in his name. He’d have loved that. Otherwise some great orgs he loved include @cafoundation, @dswt, and @reevefoundation. Mostly, try to spread some laughter and kindness around.

And creatively swear a lot. Everytime you do, somewhere out there in our vast weird universe, he’s giggling with you… or giving a particularly fat bumblebee its wings. Happy early birthday, Poppo.
Miss you every day, but especially these ones.

 

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It’s that time of year again. Everyone who has dealt with loss knows the pain of certain anniversaries, moments full of memory that come round like clockwork and usurp all others, no matter how hard you may try to prepare for or avoid them. These weeks are the hardest for me, and thus, you’ll see me a lot less, if at all. For all the internet’s good intentions in expressing to me their fondness for dad, it’s very overwhelming to have strangers need me to know how much they cared for him right now. It’s harder still to be expected to reach back. So while I’ve got the strength, consider this my one open armed response, before I go take my yearly me time to celebrate his and my birthdays in peace. Thank you for loving him. Thank you for supporting him and his life’s work. Thank you for missing him. I do too. If you’d like to do something in his honor, volunteer at your local homeless shelter, or look up how to make homeless aid backpacks. Give one in his name. He’d have loved that. Otherwise some great orgs he loved include @cafoundation, @dswt and @reevefoundation. Mostly, try to spread some laughter and kindness around. And creatively swear a lot. Everytime you do, somewhere out there in our vast weird universe, he’s giggling with you… or giving a particularly fat bumblebee its wings. Happy early birthday, Poppo. Miss you every day, but especially these ones. ♥️

A post shared by Zelda Williams (@zeldawilliams) on

Robin’s youngest son, Cody, even went as far as to schedule his own wedding in his father’s birthday this year as a way to honor his memory.

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The 21st of July has meant many things to me over the years. It’s the birthday of one of my favorite souls still on this earth, @junotemple. It’s the day Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon (as a space nerd, that’s pretty damn important). And it was the day my Dad was born, and the last day I got to see him. That last one had begun to usurp the joy of the first two in recent years… that is, until two days ago, when it became something new. On the 21st of July, 2019, it became the day I officially gained a new sister! To @mariaaafloresssswilliams and Cody, you are a light in all of our lives. I’m so grateful to have paid witness to your love over the years, to have watched you grow and care for each other in ways we should all be so lucky to experience. You were already part of the family in my eyes, but now there’s an official slip of paper somewhere that agrees! Zak, Mom and I love you both dearly, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say CONGRATULATIONS TO THE BRIDE AND GROOM!!! 🎊🥂🍾🍰💫🕊 ♥️ Photos by @cassievalentephoto

A post shared by Zelda Williams (@zeldawilliams) on

Robin Williams is the prime example of one’s external life not necessarily reflecting the internal. Despite being one of the most beloved actors, comedians, and fathers, he eventually succumbed to the pain and anguish he was suffering with privately.

However, Robin’s legacy lives on through his kids and even his grandchildren. On May 22, Zak and his fiancee, Olivia June, welcomed his first child into the world, paying tribute to Zak’s father by naming their son McLaurin Clement Williams—McLaurin being Robin’s middle name.

If you or someone you know has been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Kid Delivering Newspapers Must Be Time Traveler From 1980s

Time Traveling Paperboy
(Getty/Image Source)

SYRACUSE, NY – In what many neighborhood residents described as an utterly surreal sight, 9-year-old Mikey Davis was seen delivering newspapers door to door earlier this morning, suggesting he must be a time traveler from the 1980s since it’s not like anyone reads the paper anymore.

“I thought time traveling was just something you see in movies, but I saw that kid with my own two eyes,” claimed local dad Tyler Meadows, who noted that digital media has all but killed the print market, and that there’s no way a Gen Z child would consider newspaper delivery a financially viable summer job.

As residents of the cul-de-sac watched curiously from their windows, one man emerged from his home and asked the boy what year it was only to be met with a confused stare that offered no answers, which makes sense since a kid from any decade would have the same look on their face if asked such a dumb question.

“If he were delivering iPads or Kindles door to door then I would understand. But newspapers? This kid is either a time traveler or from another planet,” stated Tyler, who told his family to close the blinds and hide just in case this was the first sign of an alien invasion.

While many townsfolk were initially fascinated with Mikey’s presence, their attention quickly turned to a man who was seen delivering milk to a nearby house. Many residents became convinced that the man was a time traveler from the 1950s, though in reality he just worked for Amazon.

This Just In…is The Dad Faking News. Despite being completely plausible to parents, it’s satire and intended for entertainment purposes only. For more stories like this one click here.

Kind Restaurant Server Uses Lunch Break to Sit With 91-Yr-Old Man

Dylan at the Eat’n Park Restaurant
(Facebook/Lisa Meilander)

It only takes a minute to be kind.

It’s a simple enough idea, but all too often, kindness takes a back seat to our busy schedules and hectic lives. So when a Pennsylvania woman recently witnessed one such act, she knew she had to share it with others.

Lisa Meilander was out to eat with her family at Eat’n Park restaurant in Belle Vernon, PA, when she noticed their server speaking to an elderly gentleman at a booth located nearby. Due to their proximity, Lisa and her family could hear the conversation taking place. The man told their server he was 91-years-old and had trouble hearing. Their server, Dylan, kneeled down to get closer, giving the solo diner his complete attention. After chatting for several minutes, the man apologized for talking so long. “I’m alone now,” he said, “and I don’t often have someone to talk to.” Dylan smiled and said he enjoyed listening.

After a few more minutes of conversation, Dylan helped the man decide what to order and returned to the kitchen. Inspired by the gesture, Lisa wanted to pay for the elderly man’s meal, however by the time Dylan returned l, he told Lisa that “Someone’s already taken care of it.” Lisa sharing in a Facebook post “I guess we weren’t the only ones eavesdropping on the conversation.”

Shortly after, Dylan returned with the food, telling the man he was now on break and asking if he could join him while he ate. The elderly diner happily accepted the company, and the two continued their conversation. Patrons around the restaurant had taken notice and were all smiles as they enjoyed their meals.

Lisa took a photo and shared her story, adding that even as they left the restaurant, the two were still seated and enjoying one another’s company.


“With all of the negative stories about our youth today this was a breath of fresh air.”

Dylan’s small gesture has now been shared over 67,000 times and Lisa’s post now has hundreds of thousands of positive reactions. While he likely made the elderly man’s evening, Dylan’s act has now touched so many more lives. It’s proof that kindness is contagious, and that sharing a few moments of your time is all it takes to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Dad Gets Stuck On Playground Slide

Dads Get Heated About an “Ideal Thermostat Temperature” Report

Dads React to Ideal Thermostat Report
(Getty/MachineHeadz)

Everyone knows the thermostat is a dad’s domain, however, a recent government report went ahead and trampled all over our authority and published the “ideal thermostat temperature” without even asking!

Energy Star, a program of the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, suggests that Americans set their thermostats no lower than 78 degrees during the summer. Additionally, folks should set the temperature to 85 degrees when they aren’t home, and 82 degrees when they’re sleeping.

Jennifer Titus, a reporter for 10 News WTSP in Florida, tweeted out the report, and as you might imagine, there were some hot takes.


Many had a hard time imagining living in the sweatbox this report suggests:


Others suggested dads themselves were somehow to blame for the scorching hot, yet highly economical findings:



Of course, plenty of dads chimed into the discourse as well, providing their objections along with plenty of thermostat suggestions of their own. #notalldads


So despite a few heated exchanges about the report, the overall consensus is that these temperatures are…


What’s your take on Energy Star’s thermostat findings? Are you willing to sweat it out for a few measly dollars?

If so, you might also be interested in similar accommodations, like sleeping on hot asphalt… or perhaps the sun.

Spider-Man Exits MCU, Fans and Stars Want Him Back

Spider-Man Exits MCU
(Getty/Chung Sung-Jun)

90s kids will remember a time when a Spider-man movie seemed impossible. Back in those days, there were so many rights issues and legal snafus and studio entanglements that when Tobey Maguire finally donned the suit in Sam Raimi’s movie, it felt like a miracle.

After Raimi’s trilogy – which peaked with Spider-man 2 and plummeted with Spider-man 3: Electic Boogaloo, Andrew Garfield suited up for a reboot and a sequel no one cared about. And then the MCU, already in full-swing, formed a deal with Sony to grant Peter Parker entrance into the Avengers. Unfortunately, that deal was short-lived.

As of yesterday, Spidey – and Tom Holland, pretty much everyone’s favorite version of the wall-crawler – are once again out of the MCU and in a world of uncertainty.

Tuesday, amid reports that Sony (who owns the character’s movie incarnation) and Disney (which owns Marvel Studios) couldn’t agree on a financial split, Spidey lost his footing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Wednesday, as the news reverberated across Hollywood, rumors swirled that Holland was out as well. And now Peter Parker lies in limbo.

And so do the Avengers, who have already lost Iron Man and Captain America and now have lost one of the heirs apparent as well.

Fans took to Twitter to express their disappointment the only way they know how: with savagery and jokes, especially concerning Sony’s tendency towards rebooting the character.

Some fans – and actor Ryan Reynolds – took a more hopeful tack in response to the news:


As for Tom Holland, he has yet to weigh in, but his contract is for three solo Spider-man films, of which two have already been made, while director Jon Watts (who helmed both Homecoming and Far From Home) was only signed for two. Where Sony takes the duo remains unclear.

While Spidey may be forced to leave the MCU, he’s not going out without a fight. At least not if some of the other Avengers have anything to say about it. Like Hawkeye.

The Matrix 4: Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss Will Reunite

The Matrix 4 Announced
(Warner Bros.)

Keanu Reeves is having a hell of a run. Thanks to the John Wick trilogy (and counting), the star is back at the top of Hollywood, again. He was in Toy Story 4, he’s working on Bill and Ted’s 3, and thanks to his Zen-like demeanor and countless tales of his low-key philanthropy/all-around good guy-ness, the dude is crushing 2019. And he hasn’t even joined the MCU or been named TIME’s person of the year, YET.

And it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down. Especially now that a fourth Matrix movie has been announced.

That’s right, we’re plugging back in, we’re taking the red pill, we’re hopefully pretending the third and maybe even the second Matrix movies never happened and we’re dodging bullets like it’s 1999! Trinity is even coming along for the ride.

Yesterday, Variety announced that Lana Wachowski, one of the two Wachowski siblings responsible for the original Matrix trilogy, had inked a deal to bring a fourth installment of the mind-bending, philosophy-spouting, highly-influential action-sci-fi series to the screen. Complete with original stars Keanu Reeves as Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity.

“We could not be more excited to be re-entering ‘The Matrix’ with Lana,” said Toby Emmerich from Warner Bros. “Lana is a true visionary — a singular and original creative filmmaker — and we are thrilled that she is writing, directing and producing this new chapter in ‘The Matrix’ universe.”

The movie begins production in 2020, so it will be a few years before we see it. No word yet on what the story will be and who else from the original cast might appear, if anyone. I honestly can’t remember what happened in The Matrix: Revolutions, I just remember thinking it was unbelievably stupid and had squandered the promise of the first movie, which is a stone-cold classic.

The director didn’t shed much light on the potential plot but did stake a claim to relevance twenty years later. “Many of the ideas Lilly and I explored 20 years ago about our reality are even more relevant now. I’m very happy to have these characters back in my life and grateful for another chance to work with my brilliant friends,” Wachowski said.

I have so many questions: Is Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) returning? Is the Architect still blathering on? Will the Oracle be played by yet another actress? Does Neo still know kung-fu? Is there a spoon?

Here’s hoping the new edition can answer those burning questions and recapture some of the magic the original flick provided, which was one of the last unspoiled, pre-internet sensations.

If Keanu’s recent run is any indication, we’re in for a treat.

Mortal Kombat Let a DJ Voice Sub-Zero and Got a Cold Response From Fans

Dimitri Vegas as Sub-Zero
(Twitter/SpinkyRB/dimitryvegas)

Years ago, around the time George Lucas re-released the original Star Wars trilogy with strange new flourishes – including a bizarre musical number on Jabba’s barge, and then followed those debacles up with the Star Wars prequels and a misbegotten sequel to Indiana Jones, fanboys online started using a phrase to describe what the director had done.

They claimed that Lucas had basically ruined their childhood by mangling the beloved movies and characters they’d grown up with and felt a strong connection to. Overdramatic, yes, but it’s a good indication of the ownership fans feel to their favorite properties, from movies and TV shows to books and even video games. Video games like Mortal Kombat, which is currently on the receiving end of a new round of pop culture criticism for a change to one of the character’s voices.

Mortal Kombat 11 comes out on August 22nd, and one of the latest version’s updates includes DJ Dmitri Vegas stepping in to voice Sub-Zero, one of the game’s iconic fighters.


Vegas is clearly excited about his inclusion in the game, and the music he helped create for the property.

Unfortunately for the DJ, a few clips featuring his voice-work have been released, and fans are less than pleased with his tone and delivery. Some are trying to be diplomatic, but their feelings are clear…

Others aren’t holding back.


He’s being compared to a puppet:

One person explained why it hurts so bad:

At least some are looking at the bright side:

Thankfully, no one has called for the game’s makers to FINISH HIM! But there’s still time…

Dad Rents Billboard Outside Children’s Hospital to Thank Staff

Dan Driscoll's Thank You Billboard
(Facebook/Brenner Children's Hospital)

3-year-old Daniel Driscoll was recently admitted to Brenner Children’s Hospital with a bone infection. After spending a full seven days undergoing treatment, Daniel and his family were grateful to be heading home, but even more thankful to the staff of doctors and nurses who cared for Daniel during his stay.

Initially unsure of how to fully express their gratitude, Daniel’s dad eventually saw a sign… literally.

While reflecting on their time spent in the hospital room, he remembered a large billboard that sat adjacent to where he and his son spent much of their stay. “Daniel and I would tell time sitting in the window, especially when a helicopter would land and one of the things we could see was that billboard,” recalled Dan Driscoll, Daniel’s father. He wanted a way to thank everyone involved in his son’s care, saying they “had been absolutely amazing and incredible in every single way.”

Once back home, Daniel placed a call to the company who leases space on the rotating digital billboard and booked the biggest thank you card the staff at Brenner’s has ever received. The sign, which is visible from many wings of the hospital, may be large in scale, but still pales in comparison to the amount of gratitude felt by the Driscoll’s for the care and attention they received over their weeklong occupancy.

Wendy Brown, one of the nurses charged with Daniel’s care, told local affiliate FOX8 that everyone at Brenner appreciated the massive gesture. “It’s just spectacular, I mean it’s just so unique. It’s just a cool way to say thank you and all of us really appreciated it. Sometimes this can be a thankless job and that was one heck of a way to say thank you.”

Now, just over a month after being released, the thankful dad says Daniel is recovering and “doing great.” It’s yet another testament to the quality of care he received and to the power of people coming together to care for our most precious little patients.

And that’s why a pair of brothers recently raised over $11k for a children’s hospital in Ohio by selling a 230 Lb hog.

Mario Kart Virtual Reality Is Bananas

Mario Kart VR
(YouTube/4GamerMovie)

Every gamer worth his salt has daydreamed about what it would be like to cruise around Rainbow Road and fling turtle shells in first-person, and now it’s finally a (virtual) reality.

Mario Kart VR has already been making waves in Japan and London, but it’s finally made its way to the States and people are losing their damn minds over it. The immersive driving sim finally throws drivers into a physical vehicle complete with pedals and a steering wheel and lets them duke it out for ultimate bragging rights.

Featured in Bandai Namco’s “VR Zone Portal,” this traveling attraction isn’t quite as large as the VR Zone in Tokyo or Osaka, but it’s still enough to get our engines revving.

Drivers don HTC Vive headsets and play an entire race in first-person as either Mario, Luigi, Peach, or Toad, physically snatching items out of the sky battling it out for first place.

Plus, if you want even more immersive VR experiences when you’re done, the VR Portal also features Argyle Shift and Ski Rodeo—a first-person mech game and skiing simulator respectively. All three games are available to play on a first-come-first-served basis but expect longer lines for Nintendo’s flagship racer.

The game center was initially offered in Washington DC’s Union Station but has since made its way to Orange County, Southern California at the “VR Zone Portal” Irvine, located at the K1 Speed entertainment center.

No word yet regarding where the VR Tour is headed next, but we’d recommend putting in some practice laps at home just in case it’s within driving distance. Just make sure you abide by traffic laws until you get there.

I wonder if Mario Kart VR will have the same positive effects on a marriage that the other Mario titles do?