About Meli Tharpe

Born 1969 in Akron, Ohio, I was named after a character in the movie Gone With the Wind. Olivia De Havilland played Melanie Hamilton affectionately known as Mellie. Not caring for the name Melanie, but loving the nickname, my mother chose the name Melinda for me. Meli is who I am and preceded my legal name; Melinda being much too formal for my personality; and a few still reserve the privilege of calling me Mel.

Meli and Vanessa

Meli and Vanessa

I’m told that I was a pleasant child in my very early years. Sadly, I’ve lost most of those memories. I didn’t cry much, smiled a lot, and was content with what I had. My passion for critters, reaching as far back as I can remember, does well to help define me. I still have an insatiable urge to touch each and every creature I come across. I can’t help but gently stroke the fury vests worn by the bumble bees in Mom’s gardens. The bumbles don’t appreciate this act of adoration and kick at me with fear and maybe even anger, but I don’t mind or take it personally.

Ducks became the animal which permanently attached itself to my soul during my preteen years. The abuse had begun several years earlier and Downy, my first duck, was of immeasurable comfort in those times. He followed me everywhere, so I was never alone, and I could carry him over my shoulder as he lay there limp and trusting. He was overwhelmingly important to me. My favorite smell remains that of live duck feathers to this day due to the frequency of Downy nuzzled up against my face. I’m realizing now that his death may have been my very first sharp trauma. My sister’s dog ate Downy leaving bits and pieces of my beloved duck scattered throughout the basement. Seeing just his beak at the bottom of the stairs leveled my world with an explosion of emotion.

I use the term sharp trauma to differentiate the forms of trauma that I’ve suffered; the word sharp relating to the sudden unexpected fear and horror of events that are unmistakably traumatic. Soft trauma would refer to the often passive, yet progressively damaging, affect of mental and emotional abuse. This soft trauma is especially dangerous during a child’s development as I’ve come to realize regarding my own circumstances. My parents essentially gave me incorrect information concerning human relationships and how to build and maintain them. The seed to fear those around me was planted early in my childhood leading to my inability to truly trust in others. Furthermore, my own opinion of myself was molded into one of self loathing and inadequacy, which I still can’t shake in adulthood.

I talk to and about myself on a daily basis and if you listen closely you’ll often hear me mumble “I suck”.

Meli and her Baby Brother

Meli and her Baby Brother

I might have grown stronger in spite of the abuse, and let’s not forget to mention the emotional neglect, had it not been for my half sisters. I adore my baby brother who has always looked up to me and shown much love. But my two sisters were the epitome of jealousy and entitlement. We’ve never gotten along and I’ve never once felt love for either one of my sisters, only tolerance. But that’s a blog category in itself. The structure of our family was in two parts, Mom had her kids and Dad had his; although ironically, Dad fathered all four of us.

I was twenty-five when I asked my father why he had emotionally abandoned me as a child. He told me that my sisters had needed him more than I because their mother was gone from their lives. That was a real blow to my self-worth, but Dad didn’t notice. He nonchalantly explained away one of the biggest aspects of his abuse and showed no accountability for it.

I remember the day clearly, down to the sun beams pouring in through the Swiss lace curtains in my little farm house. The hope I’d maintained that someday I’d finally have a dad was shattered with a simple sentence. Twenty years later, we still don’t have a relationship. He barely knows me at all.

Meli and Chance

Meli and Chance

In the meantime, I went on to experience many successes and failures, as well as more traumas. I owned that little farm house and raised my son there; now a handsome young man with a beautiful mind and the kindest of hearts. I finished certification in CNC Machining top of my class, but failed at entering the industry. I rose up the ranks in factory work, finally settling into the position of machine operator and able to support both myself and my son very nicely. Until push came to shove in my career and I blew it. In one foul swoop, I lost my career and the home I loved so dearly.

Abuse came from so many angles that I don’t know how I ever decided which way to turn. A woman’s success in a man’s world comes with a price; but again, a blog category in itself. I worked hard all my life with both my mind and my hands. My skill set is as varied as it is intricate. What I lacked was the social skills to make it all work, which should make anyone refer back to the first few paragraphs of this biography. I had an abundance of natural potential that was stolen from me before I could do anything to stop it.

Nearly a decade ago, I dug my heels into genealogy with a hunger to find something positive in my heritage. I have to think that my subconscious intention was to connect with a family that couldn’t hurt me. Genealogy became the second passion that helps to define me. The joy that fills my heart as I shuffle through old documents and solve mysteries is unmatched, save for my passion for critters. The stories I unlock take my breath away on many occasion.

Meli's Son

Meli’s Son

My family is primarily Irish with a smattering of Welsh and German. The branches of my tree have been in America since before The Revolution. Many of my grandfathers and uncles served in the War of Independence. Thomas Paine wrote about the need for independence in a series of pamphlets called The Crisis in which he began with a famous quote; “These are the times that try men’s souls”.

“I feel ya, Tom. I think I need my own revolution”.

I have very strong opinions of right and wrong, good and bad, and the natural rights of every human. I’m brutally honest and exceptionally attentive. My special somebody lovingly calls me an empath.

Although I have great confidence in my morals and intelligence, I have very little in myself and my ability to succeed. It seems I’ve divided the two into separate entities.



The third major aspect of what is truly Meli is my passion for photography. My computer is clogged with tens of thousands of photographs, most of which do not contain human subjects. On a few occasions throughout my life, I thought I might aspire to winning the Nobel Prize for a stunning humanity shot, but my lens has always been pulled back to wildlife and macro photography. I suppose I’ll leave the prizes for those photographers whose passion is people; mine specifically excludes people in some form if you’ll notice. The only people I’m truly passionate about are those who love and respect me without fail and the dead ancestors I document so feverishly. I simply don’t trust anyone else.

My interests and passions are far too numbered to detail each one. I also dabble in poetry, needlework, and general art. Last year I taught myself to tat; an art that is not well known, but has quite the community to my surprise. I love children, but admittedly prefer boys. The squealing and emotional flux of little girls is hard for me to deal with. Little girls don’t bounce back like little boys do in the sense that they tend to hold grudges and withhold affection far more often. My parenting style is strict, loving, and based on morals and equality. I’m a lonely sort and very much enjoy my solitude, only realizing social joy with the few held dear to my heart. I fishing trip with my son is well worth dragging myself out of the house. And speaking of fishing, I love the sport and also target shooting. My baby brother and I have always been in competition with each other as to who’s the better shot. All I can say is that Annie Oakley can sit this one out.

Meli & her Grandpa

Meli and her Grandpa

My favorite memory, hands down, is that of my first shot with Grandpa. I was six and he handed me a twelve gauge shotgun, mumbled something drunken and instructive, and laughed heartily when the shot put me on my ass. To be loved like that again and my company so thoroughly enjoyed would be the pinnacle of my future life experiences. We lost Grandpa, Wild Bill, in 1995, but I gained a little strength in the old coot’s love for me and will carry it forever. I believe the pinnacle of his life experiences was the birth of my son, Grandpa’s first and only great grandchild. He loved him dearly and spoke of him all the time, asking for the boy on his death bed. Something I’m very proud of to have given him that joy.

Meli & Mercury

Meli and Mercury

In conclusion, I hope you’ll notice that I’ve not mentioned those four little letters so far (PTSD… shhhh). Although a huge factor in my daily life, I don’t wish to be labeled with it. It is necessary for everyone in my life to be aware of my circumstances, but those four letters do not define me. Sometimes I wonder if my talents and creativity were born from the disorder and then have to remind myself that the question is illogical. I’ve come to the conclusion that I would be the very same person without those four little letters, but that maybe I would have done things a little better or sooner or easier. I still have to believe that I did the best that I could and also that I’m not done yet. My personal greatness will be revealed at the end of my story with a roar. Just you wait and see!


Published on August 2, 2011 at 3:23 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Powerful, prolific, and uniquely you.


    • Thank you, Darling! Muah!


  2. RAWR ! Keep on roaring so a can hear. The ones that listen, love you…..


  3. So all can hear, rather. Hee hee!


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