Sunday, November 15, 2009


I just started reading (and by "just" I mean just, in the last hour) The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. I picked it up from the library in my mad escape from boredom at home yesterday, in my favorite section: Biography. Mmm, biographies. My mom and I went to the (main, central, big branch) library over the summer together and we were like two kids in a candy store. Mom: "I'm gonna check out the new books." Me: "I'll be in biographies." Together: "See ya." And we were off.

The Middle Place, according to the forty pages I've read and the back cover, is about Miss Corrigan's struggle with breast cancer alongside her father's fight against devastating illness, all the while trying to be a faithful wife and mother to her two daughters, Georgia and Claire.

Kelly's writing is delicious. I recently finished Don Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and drooled all over it, and now the dribble has trailed across the carpet from the bookshelf to my new find from the literary treasure chest.

So far, Kelly is writing about discovering her diagnosis of breast cancer, and juxtaposing it with chapters of childhood memories, centered mainly around her father George, whom she loved dearly and vice versa. Yesterday my friend Caleb asked me if my dad will perform my wedding ceremony, a question I have been asked before and never know the answer to. My friend Amanda, whose dad attended seminary with mine, didn't have her dad perform her ceremony because "he needed to be a dad that day," according to her. Dad did my brother Patrick's vows and gave the sermon at his wedding. Ultimately to me I feel he could do both, walk me down the aisle and officiate, but usually I don't worry about it and instead find myself wondering who will be the bigger mess on that day, me or him. I'm pretty sure we'll both be bawling, so just make sure y'all bring a crossword puzzle with you to work on while we collect ourselves.

Point being from all this rambling is that The Middle Place and Caleb's comment have gotten me thinking about my own dear daddy, and have me misting at various points on Kelly's pages. I think I could and maybe should write a book about my dad, but maybe just a blog post for now.

One of the chapters I just read was about how Kelly's dad used to wake her and her brothers up in the mornings for school. He was their AM cheerleader, energetically telling them that they were going to ace their test that day or win their hockey game. Expectedly, Kelly and her brothers would hide under the covers, and it was at this point that her dad would open a window and yell outside, "Hello, World!" and then answer back, "Hi, George! I'm waitin' for ya!" All this reminded me of how my dad used to wake me and my brothers up.

"Reading and writing and 'RITHmetic!...[something about a] HICKory stick!" he would sing. Or "sing," I suppose I should clarify. Basically he was just extra noisy in the mornings. He still tends to be extra noisy all the time, which is where I get it from. Raise your hand if you were the girl always getting in trouble for being too loud in the dorms...

The bedtime rituals at our home were equally noisy to the morning version, but involved tickling. Lots of tickling. My dad is an expert tickler. There was an entire vocab centered around tickling in our household. There is an entire vocab that belongs to my dad alone, including words like "jovis," "strawbanerry," and "PSD" (I'll let you guess what that stands for), but that is a whole other story. "Get got go" would be trigger for the merciless tickling to begin, and as we were far too unique a family to say "uncle" when we wanted the tickling the stop, the only way (and this rule stands to this day) to get tickling to stop was to spell that we wanted it to "S-T-O-P STOP!" Afterall, Dad always promoted learning; he also taught me to spell SEARS as we passed it each day on our way to daycare.

It was so fun to be tickled, and to be under the attention of Dad, that if you heard Dad tickling someone else down the hall, you would more than likely meander to that bedroom, upon which Dad would pick you up and throw you into the tickling heap, taking turns making each blonde head squeal. Many a time I remember Mom coming in as the squealing rose to higher pitches, "Tom! The neighbors will think you're hurting them!"

Some of my favorite memories, actually, are the moments when Mom would scold, "Tom!" These were often the moments that Dad was being the most funny. Another time she called him by his real name and not his "Dad" name was when he was trying to prove to her, yet again, that my white tights were too big for me. He'd be helping me get dressed for church, pulling up the extra nylon from the crotch of the tights all the way up around my torso, pinning my arms to my sides underneath the now-captive netting. "Donna, I'm telling you, these are way too big," he'd reason democratically, stuffing a squirmy arm into place to prove his point. Me, laughing hysterically. Mom would come out of the bathroom to check on the fuss. "Tom!," quickly giggling herself.

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