When I heard that John Mahoney died in February, I was completely heartbroken. It felt like I’d just lost someone close to me. In a way, I did “know” Mahoney — or, at least, the beloved dad he played on Frasier for 11 years. Because in some very-important ways, Mahoney’s Martin Crane reminded me of my own father and helped me through my own grief journey.
Frasier quite possibly saved my family’s life. My mom and I watched it obsessively following my father’s death, and it got us through some of our darkest days. Martin Crane brought us so much laughter, joy and life lessons. He always seemed to know exactly what to say when Frasier and Niles would get themselves worked up into tizzies (usually over nothing important, as I’m prone to do too!), and Martin would also set them straight when they’d say the wrong thing or put their foot in their mouth — for what seemed like the billionth time.
But what I really and truly loved about Martin? The fact that he knew what was important in life. He knew how to have fun and not take everything so seriously, you know? It’s almost like he was keenly aware that life was incredibly finite and he wasn’t going to waste any second of it. That’s sort of how my dad was. Maybe he knew our life together would be short, so he was all about family in everything he did. He loved spending time with us, even if we were just hanging out at home on a random Tuesday night trying to figure out my chemistry homework.
Then last week, we found ourselves watching episodes of Frasier once again. We were grieving our beloved Harry and needed lots of comfort. Like so many years ago, we found it in Martin and his sons. True, we could recite practically every line from memory, but in a way, that only added to our comfort level.
Yes, I know John Mahoney isn’t really Martin Crane, but during the time I needed him most, he was. He embodied the character so fully and completely, and I’m forever grateful for that.
How is it that we become so attached to TV characters? How is it that they become part of our lives, that their story becomes our story? And their story, ultimately, helps us heal. It’s such a powerful thing, isn’t it, friends? Thank you, Martin Crane. For everything… xoxo