October 5, 2015

1109This blog is more of a reflection of me than I realized, or that you knew. Grab a Starbucks or a Big Gulp or whatever they serve wherever you’re reading this, and I’ll explain.

Let’s start with the easy visible part. The blog’s overall look is one of simplicity. Or at least as much simplicity as can be mustered when you’re sorting through all the sidebar options the good folks at WordPress make available. I chose that particular photo of myself because of the grey T-shirt, which lends to the grittiness of city life as seen through the—what are those, anyway? binoculars?—in the header’s image. And the image denotes taking a closer look at the human landscape, and it ties to my blog’s subtitle about observations.

Now for the invisible part.

On the “About Yours Truly” page I’ve listed random facts about myself. Absent from the list is that my 32-year-old daughter is disabled. She is unable to speak and has only gross motor movements as a result of an illness she suffered at age 14. Prior to that she was a straight-A high school freshman in perfect health.

That’s a really big deal, and a really big part of who I am, yet I intentionally omitted that fact. And here’s why:

Human beings are only, well, human, and when we’re at the movies or shopping at Anthropologie (did I mention she’s cognitively intact and has great taste?), I imagine people see The Girl in the Wheelchair and The Mom Pushing the Wheelchair. And therein lies the problem.

We are both, yet we are neither.

That seconds-long encounter fails to tell about us, about me training to qualify for the Boston Marathon or about Erin’s love of all things quirky and retro. That seconds-long encounter invites pity, not conversation.

A few years ago my husband urged me to write a memoir centered around Erin’s illness and the stone-in-a-pond ripples it has had on not just our family, but on people we’ve never met. Currently I’m writing—fingers crossed—the last draft and although in June my editor said he’d like this draft to be completed in three months, I’m about halfway done.

To chronicle something so personal yet so universally relevant is a huge task. And thus my absenteeism from this blog.

Recently, though, an essay of mine was published online at BioStories, so that was cool. It provides a glimpse into the memoir, if you’d like to read it.

This blog, like me—like all of us, probably—has a shiny side it shows the world and a personal side it grants entry to on a selective basis.

Welcome in, friend.


  1. Kate Crimmins

    The essay is wonderful. It gives us some insight and next time I see a mother pushing a child in a wheelchair, my thoughts will be different.

    • Linda Tharp

      Thank you, Kate. Life’s turns have certainly caused me to view people and situations differently, as well.

  2. Mir Fleur

    Thank you for the reminder to see the person inside. I have lost touch now, but a dear friend from my past was severely physically disabled – it didn’t bother the pair of us much, we still got up to all sorts of mischief – but the dismissive reactions of other people were really disheartening. I’m now going to read your essay :). Mir xx

    • Linda Tharp

      Thanks so much for your insights. Your phrase “dismissive reactions” was, unfortunately, spot on. This entire–what? situation? event?–that my daughter, and our entire family, has experienced has made me far more open to others as far as realizing that, as cliche as it sounds, there truly is more to a person than what we assume by appearances alone. Not that I would ever wish this upon anybody, but when I look for good that has come of all of this, it’s actually there, just waiting to be found.

      Thanks so much for your reply.

      • Mir Fleur

        Linda, having read your essay now, I just want to reach out to you. My family has been through some tough times, (my elder son has cancer, my other son is autistic and my daughter has serious mental illness) and I am guilty sometimes of feeling sorry for myself. I should remember that I am not unusual and that there are so many other people facing far harder challenges. Also, please say hello to Erin for me :). Mir xx

  3. Linda Tharp

    I so appreciate your sharing this with me, and I’m so sorry your family has gone through so much. And I’m also sorry I’ve taken a while for me to respond–I ran a marathon on Sunday in hopes of qualifying for Boston, which is a story in itself, but running is something I do just for me, and something I often feel guilty about, as you pointed out your own guilt. I guess as moms we feel responsible even for things that are totally out of our hands. It’s our nature to want to fix it, to make it right. To protect our kids.

    I’m a fine one to talk, but please don’t feel guilty about feeling sorry for yourself. I do the same thing. Maybe it’s our way of hitting the “reset button”: cleaning the slate and moving on.

    Take care, and give yourself a hug from me.



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