Unheralded

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 …


Unheralded

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 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 — 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 — 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 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 — 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 — ‘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 — 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 — 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 — 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 …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Another Mr. Rogers Moment

My first experience with Jennifer Roberts’ students was three years ago, a day I will never forget, and one that has become a big part of the talks I give about my friendship with Fred Rogers. (The young man I refer to as Mr. Attitude was in that class.) Those kids, part of a class for students who need an …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — From The Heart Of Suffering, A Grace Note From Fred Rogers

Fred Rogers and I had known each other for three years by that day in the fall of 1998 when I learned that my brother, Steve, had been diagnosed with lung cancer. My first call was to my wife, my second to the children’s television icon at his home in Pittsburgh. It was his wife, Joanne, who answered that day, and …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — My letter To Fred Rogers, And His Famous IPOY Reply

I met Fred Rogers, the children’s television icon, on a newspaper assignment in the fall of 1995. Several months later, I sent him this letter and received his famous reply. June 22, 1996 Dear Fred, … I have something to ask of you. The last several years have been a very profound time of intense personal pain and great healing, …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Anything

“Anything mentionable is manageable,” Fred Rogers famously said. Anything? What about this? You are a young mother, a government worker in Washington, D.C., and pretty much without warning comes a post-partum psychotic break. You end up running naked on a bridge over the Potomac and might not have survived if not for the courage and kindness of strangers. What about …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Fred Rogers, Three Other Dudes And Coming Out Of Hiding

One of Fred Rogers’ favorite things was to make connections between people. I often have imagined his delight at the connections I have made these last several years, traveling the country with the message of our unlikely bond. Many of them have been profound but fleeting. Others have developed into friendships that will endure as long as I do. Michael Gingerich and …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Bad Words And Evil Acts, But What Happens In The End?

I met Fred Rogers in the fall of 1995, when I profiled the host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. I quickly accepted his surprising invitation to friendship. It was three years later, on one of my trips to see Fred at his home in Pittsburgh, that I found a copy of Esquire magazine on a coffee table in his …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Fred Rogers And My Brother, Steve: 15 Treasured Moments From ‘I’m Proud Of You’

Since 2006, when “I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers” was first published, I’ve heard from hundreds of people, many of whom who tell me something to this effect. “I know those letters and emails from Fred were written to you, but if feels like they were written to me, too.” I met Fred through a newspaper assignment …