I’ve gotta give Tim Madigan props for admitting his book’s similarities to Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie. In I’m Proud of You, Madigan chronicles his own midlife awakening through friendship with an older (and enormously famous) mentor.
As a journalist with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Madigan was assigned to interview television legend and tireless child advocate Fred Rogers in 1995. What could have been a mere exchange of pleasantries became instead a sincere and profound friendship that would last until Rogers’ death in 2003.
Madigan’s book confirms what most visitors to Rogers’ “neighborhood” already believe – that he was a caring and compassionate man. The title of the book refers to the way in which Mr. Rogers often signed his emails and letters to Madigan – “I’m Proud of You,” a phrase Madigan had always wished to hear from his father when he was a boy. The book also shows Rogers’ sense of humor, deep faith (he was an ordained Presbyterian minister), and magnetic pull that affected all around him.
At times during my reading, I felt annoyed with the self-centeredness of Madigan’s memoir. I know, I get it, that’s what memoirs are about – *the author*. But I really just wanted to know more about Mr. Rogers, and felt like skipping through Madigan’s own struggle with depression and what he calls his “Furies” of midlife. One part I could not put down, though, had to do with the death of Madigan’s brother Steven. That entire section of the book made me cry openly and feel grateful for the peek inside the author’s experience.
Ultimately it is not Madigan’s personal story that captivated me most, but the looking-glass view of the goodness and humanity of Fred Rogers. I feel inspired by how he lived his life and how he valued relationships. As an interesting resource, Madigan includes an “informal bibliography” at the end of the book which lists those books that Rogers held dear.
*Disclosure: Amazon affiliate link included.