Fix everything, even broken hearts.

It seems my life revolves neverendingly around children’s stories.  The one I was reminded of today was called either “Mr. Fix-it” or “Mr. Fix-it’s Shop”.  Sisters, I’m sure you can help me here.  Regardless, the story focuses on a nice old man who keeps a shop for mending things – radios, violins, bureaus, tennis rackets – even the kitchen sink.  His sign proclaims that he can fix everything except broken hearts.  There’s a little girl in the neighborhood who comes in after school and helps out a bit and watches him work.  One day her doll falls apart, and she’s heartbroken, and Mr. Fix-it goes to work – replacing an eye here, making a new wooden arm out of an old baseball bat there.  Eventually the doll is as good as new, or better.  The little girl demands that Mr. Fix-it changes his sign, because when he fixed her doll he fixed her heart too.  It’s a nice story.

What reminded me of it, however, is a little less poignant.  MIT has new research out about using a biodegradable ‘scaffold’ to hold heart tissue.  The tissue plus scaffold could be implanted to fix congenital defects or as replacement tissue after a heart attack.  Eventually the scaffolding would be absorbed by the body, hopefully leaving the heart ‘complete’. Of course, even this newer version of scaffolding can’t do everything we want it to – we’ve made progress, but they’re still working on it.

I’m all for improving the health of our hearts.  The idea that in the future this technology will firmly be in place to the benefit of those I love and myself is reassuring.  Still, the technology needs to be coupled with an ounce of prevention.  Shouldn’t we be protecting our hearts just a little better instead of fixing them after they’re broken?

Both the articles about the new, better, strong scaffolding and the story about Mr. Fix-it are delightful reads.  But both give us a message as well.  The latter tells us of the power to heal we each have in our kindnesses and in our actions for the sake of others.  The former tells us that though science is a powerful tool, it is only a tool.  It can adapt to future problems we may have, but will never be a complete solution.  Only rarely will it fix a broken heart.


  1. Carol said,

    June 23, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Mr. Bell’s Fixit Shop
    A Little Golden Book

  2. Ronne Randall said,

    December 18, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    I’m delighted to be able to tell you the name of the book you referred to in this post: Mr. Bell’s Fixit Shop. It was a Little Golden Book, published in 1981. I know this because I wrote it; it was my first published children’s book, and is still my favorite of the many I’ve written since then (under my maiden name, Ronne Peltzman, and my married name, Ronne Randall). I am so pleased that you remember this book well enough to cite it in this article; also amazed and pleased to know that we may one day be able to indeed fix hearts broken by forces other than sorrow. Thank you – and may your heart stay healthy and whole.

    • Paul said,

      February 16, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      My oldest son was born in 1981, followed by another in 1983 and a daughter in 1985. All three were read Mr Bell’s Fixit Shop by me (along with lots of other books) as a night time, before-bed ritual. I loved that book and so did they. Thank you Ronne.

      I only thought about it again today when an online friend of mine posted a picture of a broken heart because of a failed relationship. I thought – she needs to find Mr Bell. I Googled it and ended up here.
      Paul, Brisbane , Australia.

    • Mended Heart :) said,

      January 4, 2013 at 3:32 am

      Ms. Randall,
      It is my favorite children’s book as well. Recently, I met a man who has mended my broken heart, and I found this post while searching for the exact title so I could find the book and read it to him. Thank you for writing a story that communicates my feelings for him better than I ever could myself. Thank you so very much.

    • Sharon Taylor said,

      February 7, 2013 at 7:08 am

      Out of all the stories that I can hardly remember I have always remembered this one it was my favourite book when I was little. I hope that I can find one some day and share it with my little girl… in the hopes that it might become her favourite book too.

    • May 3, 2013 at 5:11 pm

      I just looked for this book online, Mr. Randall. I adored this book when I was a little girl. My grandmother had a copy of it at her house and I would read it over and over. I still think of this story, a 37 year old woman. Thank you, for “Mr. Bell’s Fix it Shop.”

    • Joben said,

      May 4, 2013 at 4:12 pm

      Whoa! This is crazy! That was the first book I read all the way through as a young child. More recently I have been looking for the book again when I stumbled upon this. Thanks Ronne!

  3. Beth said,

    August 2, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Thank you, Ms. Randall, for sharing the title. Hearing this book read aloud is one of my favorite childhood memories. I loved it so much, in fact, that I later married man who is very much like Mr. Bell…he can truly fix anything (yes, broken hearts, too).

  4. Roselee Wayman said,

    May 19, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    I was just searching for Mr. Bell’s Fix It shop book too. I am soon to be a grandmother and am buying a library of books for my soon to be born grandchild… of my duaghter’s favorites was Mr. Bell’s Fix it Shop…thank you for reminding me of the complete title.

  5. Ronne Randall said,

    December 12, 2017 at 8:08 am

    For some reason, it’s taken two years for these comments to reach me — I was only notified of them today, Dec 12, 2017. I can’t tell you how much it warms MY heart to read your comments, and to know that my book has had such a positive impact on your lives. I’m sending you all love and good wishes for a joyous Christmas season, and hope that there will always be a “Mr. Bell” in your lives.

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