Tilting is a book that I will definitely be adding to my TBR the blurb sounds amazing, alas I knew I wouldn’t have time to read it for this blitz so instead I am bringing you a wonderful guest post about the author’s mother Linda. Before we get to that this is what the book is about.
We only learned about our father’s girlfriend after he became deathly ill and lay in a coma 120 miles from our home.
Overhearing the nurse tell Linda–since I was nine I had called my mom by her first name–about the girlfriend who came in almost every day to visit him when we weren’t there confirmed that the last moment of normal had passed us by without our realizing it. Up to then our family had unhappily coexisted with Dad flying jumbo jets to Asia while we lived in Montana. We finally came together to see Dad through his illness, but he was once again absent from a major family event–unable to join us from his comatose state. This is the moment when our normal existence tilted.
Dad recovered, but the marriage ailed, as did Linda, with cancer. Our family began to move down an entirely different path with silver linings we wouldn’t see for many years.
In this candid and compassionate memoir which recently won a Gold Award in The Wishing Shelf Book Award, Nicole Harkin describes with an Impressionist’s fine eye the evolution of a family that is quirky, independent, uniquely supportive, peculiarly loving and, most of all, marvelously human.
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Linda looked great all the time and even the time when she took my Girl Scout troop camping. She had never been camping but that didn’t stop her. Seven months pregnant with my younger sister, Erica, outside in the Georgia fall, in heels, hiking, there Linda was. She hiked my whole troop up and down and all the way around Stone Mountain, the large granite outcropping that measures five miles in circumference at its base. Ten little girls looking up to her as she pretended to know what she was doing. What a sight.
But now as a mom too, I can understand how and why she pushed herself to be more than she had been before. She wanted us to have as many experiences as possible. She wanted us know the world was wide and we could do anything we wanted, even if we had never done it before.
I recently found a note in a book from Linda that said, “To Nicole, who can do anything she tries to do.” I think of this note often as I raise my two little boys. Anytime I have self-doubt, I remember that Linda believed in me. I want the boys to feel the same way.
After Tilting was published I heard from an old friend of hers that my book saddened her. “Linda’s life didn’t turn out the way I expected. She seemed so unhappy.”
I’ve pondered this a lot. I don’t think Linda’s life ended up being unhappy. I think what Linda wanted to do changed. She wanted to parent me and my siblings. And this was different than the Linda who had been an international flight attendant. I also think she might have had an inkling that she wouldn’t live long. She always had our scrap books up to date. Who does that? I always think I can work on the scrapbooks later.
Every decision precludes other roads she might have taken. As I age, this is clearer to me. As I tell my boys, “You can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything.”
Nicole Harkin currently resides in Washington, DC with her husband and two small children. She works as a writer and family photographer. As a Fulbright Scholar during law school, Nicole lived in Berlin, Germany where she studied German environmentalism. Her work can be found in Thought Collection and you are here: The Journal of Creative Geography. She is currently working on a mystery set in Berlin. Her photography can be seen at www.nicoleharkin.com.