Unheralded

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Gratitude: From Aspens To Zen

The gratitude list is hardly a new concept, but several friends have taken it to another level, attempting to find reasons to be grateful for every letter of the alphabet. I decided to try it myself. It certainly wasn’t easy. I mean, am I really grateful for X-rays and xylophones? And I wouldn’t allow myself to use the names of …


Unheralded

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — From The Desert: Fred Rogers’ Remarkable Request Of My DyingBrother

Tim Wright and I were born a few days apart in December 1957. (He’s older and rather looks it, I think.) Which is to say that Tim and I are both on the far side of a generational divide in America. Either you were a Captain Kangaroo kid or a Mister Rogers kid, and we were both Captain Kangaroo guys …


TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — ‘Glad To be Sad.’ From The Desert: Memories Of Dad

The desert mountains and majestic saguaro cacti were still in full darkness when the men convened that recent Saturday morning. There was Tim Wright, pastor of Community of Grace Lutheran Church in the Phoenix suburb of Peoria, and 20 or so guys who for years had been coming together weekly to study the Bible and discuss important things, (though the …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — One Of Life’s Greatest Challenges: Befriending The One In The Mirror

Last year, grief therapist Patrick O’Malley and I published “Getting Grief Right: Finding Your Story of Love in the Sorrow of Loss.” We suggest in the book that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, that each person’s experience of mourning is as unique as a fingerprint and that, therefore, there are no reliable models, no steps and stages …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — A Memory Of Squirrel Hill: Mister Rogers And The Woman In Church

By now you’ve probably heard that Saturday’s synagogue slaughter took place in the same Pittsburgh neighborhood, Squirrel Hill, where Fred Rogers lived and worshipped himself. His spirit is now often invoked as the heartbroken city struggles to heal. The grim news for me brought back a much different memory of that place, from another autumn morning 23 years ago. I …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Roland Martin Remembers

Many years ago, Roland Martin and I were young reporters at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Roland quickly went on to become, well, Roland Martin, the ubiquitous personality on national television and radio, a longtime fixture of Sunday morning network talk shows. But Roland clearly remembers one part of our brief acquaintance. He and I had several important discussions about race …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — A Surprising Hunger …

It’s an experience most can relate to, especially if we are of a certain age. The call comes, or the text or the email, and we find ourselves on the way to the home of a friend or loved one who has just suffered a loss, or to a visitation or a funeral. Then comes an almost universal anxiety and …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — I”m A Mess, You’re A Mess … And Fred Rogers’ Most Important Teaching

A particularly memorable moment in my travels with the message of Fred Rogers came a few years ago in a junior high school gym in Tampa, Fla. That afternoon, I shared with 600 students how, after meeting Mister Rogers in the mid-1990s, the great man mentored and loved me through a very, very difficult time in my life. They were …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Simplicity

A few weeks ago, I came across a book from the 1990s called, “Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life.” The author, Jon Kabat-Zinn, has for decades been a leader of the mindfulness movement and has introduced mindfulness into the practice of medicine. I’ve found the book a treasure as I attempt to cultivate, in very …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Won’t You Be My Neighbor

On Sept. 21, 1996, a sunny Saturday morning, I had settled in with a cup of coffee and the sports page when the telephone rang in our suburban Texas home. When I answered, I was surprised to hear the voice of Fred Rogers at the other end of the line. Within a few seconds I could tell that my friend …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — The Spirit Of The Mountains

I spent the last week camping alone in the Rocky Mountains. My home was three miles into the wilderness on a jarring moonscape of a Forest Service road. I pitched my tent above a stream, beneath a canopy of spruce and aspen, just me and trees and  water and mountains folded into one another for as far as I could see. …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — My Journey With Central American Refugees

On a winter afternoon in 1989, I climbed into the cargo hold of a crowded Ryder rental truck, finding my place amid 49 Central American refugees. Over the next 11 hours, on a journey from the Texas border town of Harlingen to Houston, I listened to the stories of the men, women and children, people who in some cases had …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — The Dark Genius Of Humanity

How many really know you? How many know of your fear, your sadness, your shame, your anger, your depression? They are questions worth asking at any time, but particularly this week. I had no clue who Kate Spade was, so her suicide registered faintly, but the news of Anthony Bourdain’s death jolted me. I saw a lot of living, a …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — ‘Go Placidly Amid The Noise And Haste …’

Up early on Sunday morning, in time to hear a gentle rain begin to fall, a brief reprieve from the coming heat of a Texas summer. As I sat listening, this phrase popped into my head. “Go placidly amid the noise and haste …” I saw it years ago on a poster hanging on the wall of a friend’s kitchen. …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Psych 101: How To Be (Really) Happy

In the autumn of 1995, on my first visit to the office of Fred Rogers in Pittsburgh, I noticed three Emmy Awards stacked in the clutter atop a filing cabinet, like neglected bookends. No trophy case for Fred. I asked him about the awards. “I don’t know how to talk of it,” the icon of children’s television said . “If …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Fred Rogers, Richard Rohr And The Truth About Anger

This passage from the great Catholic writer Richard Rohr really struck me when I read it a few days ago: “Anger is good and very necessary to protect the appropriate boundaries of self and others. I would much sooner live with a person who is free to get fully angry, and also free to move beyond that same anger, than …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — The Simple Secret To Supporting A Grieving Person: Human Presence

At a speaking engagement of mine a few months back, a woman in the audience said something that I will never forget. She had lost her spouse more than a year before and continued to grieve deeply. But something in her suffering had shifted, she said. “I used to see grief as an enemy,” she said. “After reading your book, …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Barbara Bush And The Aspiration To Goodness

My wife and I spent a healing hour watching the news Tuesday night. When was the last time anyone could say that? The topic, of course, was the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush at age 92. As the tributes poured in, how nice it was to be reminded that her human greatness did not derive from her role …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — When Are You Too Old To Rock ‘N’ Roll?

I turned 60 in December, a season in life when, for hobbies, a more sensible person might have turned to watercolors or growing orchids. I have turned to Aerosmith, the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Credence, Pink Floyd and REO Speedwagon. I’m not talking about the oldies station on the radio, or air guitar when no one is looking or belting …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Three Hours And Thirty-Two Minutes

I was the new kid in September 1970, attending public school for the first time after years of being taught by Catholic nuns. I walked toward the front door on that first day, passing clusters of unfamiliar junior high students gathered in the morning sun, waiting for the first bell. I imagined whispers about this scrawny, shy newcomer. Then one …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — The Right Time For Mister Rogers

Five years ago came the news that my memoir, “I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers,” was going to be a major motion picture. Two young screenwriters, Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue, had developed a beautiful script. The directors of the movie “Little Miss Sunshine” had signed on. There was significant buzz in Hollywood and in the Madigan household. …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — A Great Heart; A Great and Questioning Mind

One day recently, it occurred to me that I had not seen or spoken with my friend, Dick Lord, in more than a year. I found his number and planned to ring him up for a game of golf or another of our long breakfasts at Denny’s, but I heard the news before I could call. Dick had contracted the West …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — A Grieving Son Named Scott And An Unlikely Turning Point

By the mid-1980s, my friend and co-author, Patrick O’Malley, had started to suspect that the stages of grief were a harmful fallacy. But as a grieving father himself, and a therapist who worked with the bereaved, what would take their place? An excerpt from our new book, “Getting Grief Right: Finding Your Story of Love in the Sorrow of Loss.” The …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable —The Healing Power Of Music

Leonard Slatkin is one of the world’s most famous conductors, but for the last several weeks, he’s taken on a much different role in the music world, as jury chairman for the Cliburn International Piano Competition. Part of his duties have been to announce which of the 30 pianists would advance from each round and which young musicians would not. Late …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — The Therapist Grieves

As I’ve written here before, I think my collaboration with therapist Patrick O’Malley on his new book is as important as any work I’ve done in a 40-year career. It is our belief and fervent hope that the book, “Getting Grief Right: Finding Your Story of Love in the Sorrow of Loss,” will bring comfort to untold numbers of bereaved people, those whose pain …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — A Sacred Night In An Amazing Place

Few things gave Fred Rogers more pleasure than making connections between people. Somewhere on the other side of the thin veil that separates this life from what comes after it, (Fred’s words) he is very happy at the connections I have made at White’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Southlake, Texas. A few years ago, I heard that the memoir …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — A Coming Comfort To Those Who Grieve

Is there anyone out there who is grieving? Or maybe the better question is this: Is there anyone out there who is not — to some degree, about some loss? That’s why I believe my latest book might be the most impactful of my career. The title is “Getting Grief Right: Finding Your Story of Love in the Sorrow of Loss,” …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — The Purple Flower And The Laundromat

Last Saturday around noon, I turned onto a narrow street near my home in Fort Worth, Texas, but had to pull over almost immediately. I had happened onto the beginning of the March for Science that was headed down the same street in the other direction. But it was hardly an imposition because I had in fact been curious about …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — The Astringent Healing Power Of That Light

Thank you for the warm welcome in my return to the blogosphere a week or two ago. The first blog in more than a year was a bit difficult to put out there because it largely concerned my own dark side, and who wants to go around publicizing that. (Click here if you missed it.) But I think most of us …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — The Eyes of Fred Rogers

This portrait of Fred Rogers hangs at the top of the stairs entering our living room, which means I see it, and make eye contact with Fred, many times each day. Having Fred hanging there changes the molecules in the air of the place where we live. The artist who created it is another reason why that picture is one …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Composted By Life

My friend, Leslye Rood, was kind enough to pass along a recent essay by Parker J. Palmer, who many know from his seminal book of several years ago, “Courage to Teach.” The essay was written on the eve of Palmer’s 78th birthday, and though I’m quite a few years younger myself, much of what I read really hit home — were things …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — A Gentleman In Moscow

I think “A Gentleman in Moscow” has a place among my top 10 novels. Fred Rogers said something to the effect that one of life’s great challenges is to make goodness attractive. The author pulled this off in spades with his protagonist, and every sentence is perfect. Amazing. Did I say I hate Amor Towles. Thanks Cathy Frisinger for sending this our way. …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — ‘I’m Proud Of You,’ Chapter Two Memory

I came across these photos thanks to my friends at the “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” Archive. They are from Fred’s senior yearbook, 1945-46, Latrobe (Pa.) High School. Fred was the yearbook editor. Even then you could see the light in him. One of the photograph is of Jim Stumbaugh. Those who have read the book might remember Jim’s significance to Fred’s story. Fred …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — ‘I’m Proud Of You,’ Chapter One Favorites

Rereading I’m Proud of You: My Friendship With Fred Rogers, on the 10th anniversary of its publication. Favorites from Chapter One “Your wounded heart is a very beautiful heart,” Fred wrote to me during a time of great struggle. “In fact, it has probably allowed you to understand the hearts of all others who are wounded. And whose isn’t in …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Ten Years of ‘I’m Proud Of You’

“I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers,” was first published 10 years ago this August. These seem like good days to reread it — for the first time. Also, there have been some significant challenges this year for the people I love, and for me, and, frankly, I just want to see him again and hear his voice. …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Another Turning Point

Memories after what I hope will be a turning point week for our country. The first from 1996, when I moved into a Fort Worth, Texas, nursing home to write about the lives of the people there. As part of my daily ritual, I went from room to room, saying good morning to my new neighbors. With two exceptions. It …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — My Dad, My Hero

Many years ago, my dad and I were driving through the little town in North Dakota where he grew up. I asked him how many times his parents had come to watch him play sports. Dad had been a star football and basketball player in that place. “Twice,” he answered without hesitation. “My mom came and watched me play basketball …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Making A Difference

A few weeks ago, I opened a drawer at home and there it was, my 40th birthday present from Fred Rogers. We had moved a couple of times, so it had been tucked away and I had not seen or thought of it for at least a couple of years. (My 40th was eighteen years ago.) It brought back the …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Grace Notes

A few weeks ago, early in my first conversation with a remarkable person, we somehow came across the topic of grief. “I guess you’ve heard what happened to me,” he said. I hadn’t. He told me about the death of one of his children, only a few weeks earlier. How do you respond to such devastating news? I was dumbfounded …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Death, Taxes … And Suffering

To death and taxes, suffering should be added to the great inevitabilities — and not just the suffering born of tragedy and injustice. It’s a rare human who does not believe, at least at some deep level and at least some of the time, that he or she is fundamentally defective. It is what we have most in common. Yet …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Take Off Your Mask

This jumped out at me from an article in the Atlantic: “As brainy social animals, human beings evolved to be consummate actors whose survival and ability to reproduce depend on the quality of our performances. We enter the world prepared to perform roles and manage the impressions of others, with the ultimate evolutionary aim of getting along and getting ahead …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Texans Spar Over Transgender Bathrooms

FORT WORTH, Texas — On Tuesday, the first scorching day of a Texas spring, hundreds stood in line in the late afternoon sun, waiting to enter the meeting hall of the Fort Worth School Board. The impassioned throng was the largest in more than three decades of school board meetings here, officials said. The issue: school district guidelines intended to …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — To Ban Or Not To Ban

FORT WORTH, Texas — In the decade since he opened a Fort Worth- area coffeehouse, David Clarke never really cared whether a customer packed a pistol beneath his jacket. Carrying a concealed weapon has been legal in this state since 1996, but Clarke’s shop and thousands of other restaurants, grocery stores, churches and movie theaters were free to engage in a …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — A Few Kind Words, Long Forgotten?

Rod Johnson was another hockey player, but a couple of years behind me in school and not a guy I ever knew well. That’s why I was kind of dumbstruck by his recent message on Facebook, sent from China, where he now works. He said it concerned something I said to him after a hockey game when he was sixth grade …