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The Middle Place April 2, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Health & Wellness, People.

Kelly Corrigan’s bestselling memoir, The Middle Place, is as much a celebration of life as it is her chronicle of battling breast cancer.

Kelly tells her story in anecdotal fashion, pulling readers into the middle of her life as mother, daughter, wife, and cancer survivor.

The story weaves together her life in California, with husband and two young daughters, with flashbacks to her childhood in Philadelphia as George Corrigan’s daughter.

In the Prologue, Kelly introduces us to her father and he immediately comes to life for us.  We see him greeting each day with a shout out (“Hello, World!”) and picture him going to bed each night with a smile on his face, satisfied that he made the most of every precious moment.

My favorite section from the Prologue describes how George makes those around him feel about themselves:

I think people like him because his default setting is open delight.  He’s prepared to be wowed ~ by your humor, your smarts, your white smile, even your handshake ~ guaranteed, something you do is going to thrill him.  Something is going to make him shake his head afterward, in disbelief, and say to me, “Lovey, what a guy!” or “Lovey, isn’t she terrific?”  People walk away from him feeling like they’re on their game, even if they suspect that he put them there.

He does that for me too.  He makes me feel smart, funny, and beautiful, which has become the job of the few men who have loved me since.  He told me once that I was a great talker.  And so I was.  I was a conversationalist, along with creative, a notion he put in my head when I was in grade school and used to make huge, intricate collages from his old magazines.  He defined me first, as parents do.  Those early characterizations can become the shimmering self-image we embrace or the limited, stifling perception we rail against for a lifetime.  In my case, he sees me as I would like to be seen.  In fact, I’m not even sure what’s true about me, since I have always chosen to believe his version.

George Corrigan ~ What a guy!  Isn’t he terrific!  The world could certainly use a few more just like him.  Thanks, Kelly, for sharing him with us in The Middle Place.

One thing that Kelly learned from her dad is the power of forward thinking and optimism to get you through the rough patches in the road.

By way of example, when Kelly calls her dad to let him know about her diagnosis with breast cancer, he tells her that everything is going to be fine, that she is strong, that she will beat this:

His faith ~ in God, in the human spirit, in me ~ had long ago made him impervious to anxiety.  It seemed useless to disagree with him.  Why not believe in the enchanted place where he lives?

The next day . . . I send out this very brave-sounding, very George Corrigan-ish e-mail to about a hundred people:

Re:  Looking Ahead

Hi all,

Brace yourself.  Yesterday, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I’ll get you all the details later this week, as I get them, but for now, I wanted to invite you all to a party-to-end-all-parties, August 13, 2005. 

In just about a year, I will turn 38 with my girls at my side and my husband on my arm and we will toast to the end of a long year . . . and people will say stuff like, “Isn’t this what life is all about?” and “I knew she’d beat it!”

Kelly Corrigan ~ What a gal!  Isn’t she terrific!  The world could certainly use a few more just like her.  Thanks, Kelly, for sharing yourself with us in The Middle Place.

Congratulations to you (and your dad!) for kicking Cancer to the curb!!!!!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Quote:  People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.


1. Joanne - April 2, 2010

Quote: People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

I love this quote — except for one thing… I think people might often remember what it was that you said or did to make them feel the way they feel — usually, if its a short-term encounter… Long-term relationships offer a different set of dynamics…

When I think about all the people I’m drawn to — short- or long-term, I can count them as the George Corrigans of my life 🙂

2. nrhatch - April 2, 2010

My Great Aunt Edie immediately springs to mind . . .

She always had a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye when she visited with us.

I certainly remember some of the things she said, and some of the things she did, but what I’ll NEVER forget is how she made us feel ~ loved and cherished and accepted just for being exactly who we were.

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