On one overly warm Sunday afternoon, I phoned and invited two 18-year-old granddaughters––cousins to each other––to go "alley walking" with me. These girls are intense, good students, and keep to tight schedules even in the summer. Puzzled by my invitation, they agreed.
No cell phones allowed, except mine, which was off.
As we ambled along, talking and seeing all the interesting stuff one sees in back yards, Molly asked me to tell her "my plan for this walk."
"No plan,” I said. “We'll walk until we get tired, then we'll turn toward home." She scowled. “I mean, what’s our schedule?
“No schedule. No structure. No plan,” I said. “We’re just going to walk and talk and see stuff.”
Along the way, I pointed out the back of the large frame house where their great, great grandfather lived when he came to McAlester (Oklahoma) on horseback with one of his brothers.
“The house was called ‘The Batch,’” I said. “He was 21 years old, just a few years older than you are now. It was a rooming house for young, single men. He took his meals there. His brother rode on, but your great, great granddaddy liked McAlester and decided to stay. With money his dad had given him, he invested in a wholesale grocery venture. He worked hard and did well. He married and had three children, two boys and a girl who became your great grandmother. He and his wife were instrumental in starting the Episcopal church here. He was a charter member of the Elks club and the country club and several other civic and social organizations.”
The girls asked questions and drew mental pictures of their common ancestor and what his life was like, pictured him walking down this same alley behind this same house all those years ago.
An hour later, after we had marveled at swimming pools and bunny cages, even a bobcat in a coop, my son, Molly’s dad, stopped his car at an intersection. He had been looking for us.
“Anyone want a ride?” he asked, arching his eyebrows.
We were perspiring freely by then, yet none of the three of us responded. I was leaving it up to the girls.
"Actually, Dad,” Molly said finally, “I think I'll stay with Nana, if you don't mind."
“How about if we all go have ice cream?” A tempting offer, indeed.
"Maybe later, Dad."
Obviously taken aback, he looked at me. I shrugged.
“Dad, did you know about ‘The Batch’?” his daughter asked.
He nodded and grinned, enlightened, then regarded me again. “You told them about their great, great grandfather, did you?”
My turn to grin. “Yes.”
He laughed remembering alley walking with his brother and sisters years before, and his dad (my husband] telling stories about generations of his family involved in the development of our hometown.
“I could leave the car here and go with you,” he offered.
Molly said sweetly, “No, thanks, Dad. We’ll catch up with you later.”
The girls chatted freely with me and each other. We walked a while longer before we turned toward home, sweating, relaxed, and closer than before. That walk has become one of our favorite memories.
There were no electronics involved.
MEMORY, released on March 8 from The Wild Rose Press, is my twelfth published romantic suspense novel.
Ten years after their high school graduation, David "Mac" McCann is giving classmate Laurel Dubois a ride home from the country club on a chill, rainy night when they see a woman striding along the shoulder of the highway bypass. Unsure about the woman's identity, but willing to help to anyone out in that weather, Mac pulls over to offer her a ride. The walker, Memory Smith, another high school classmate, is drenched, and has neither wrap nor purse. On closer scrutiny, her bottom lip appears to be swollen and cut. She apologizes for her filthy, wet condition, as she accepts the ride. Two hours later, Mac hears that Memory Smith has been run over on the highway, her mangled body unrecognizable, except for her name on a tag in the sweater on the body. But at that moment, Mac knows exactly where Memory Smith is, and it's not lying dead beside a highway!
MEMORY is available in print or electronic form at http://amzn.to/2mr9fMc or http://tinyurl.com/jcupl9r-
Author Sharon Ervin is a former newspaper reporter who has a degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. She is married and the mother of four grown children, lives in McAlester, Oklahoma, and works half-days in her husband and older son's law office.