It’s funny how you “think” you know someone, and really don’t. I had that brought home to me several weeks ago. My wife, Pam, and I got to visit someone we’ve worked with for a couple of years―Sharon Ahern.
After Jerry passed, Sharon graced me with the opportunity to join her in bringing “The Survivalist series” back to life. Jerry and I had talked about it for several months before his death. It has truly been one of the most rewarding and challenging projects I’ve tackled.
Most of the time, at least before Jerry got sick, my conversations with Sharon were a quick hello when she answered the phone, found Jerry and passed the call to him. The only time I actually met her was at an NRA function in Houston, Texas, many years ago. Then all of a sudden, we were working on books, starting a new business venture (LANCER), and my world was swirling around someone that I knew as a voice on the phone rather than a flesh and blood person.
Over the years I have learned more about Jerry than he ever shared with me. I learned it from the woman that shared his life and their adventure. Sharon was thirteen when she met Jerry and she never let him get away—even now.
I don’t know what I expected before the trip to Georgia but it and Sharon exceeded my expectations. She is a most unusual woman, and I mean that as a complement. I haven’t been able to catalog her and I doubt I ever will. Here is what I can tell you about her:
I lost count of the book cases in her home. Every one of them was full; packed with the most varied, eclectic stacks of books I have ever seen. It became a mantra while Pam and I were there, “This collection has absolutely no rhyme or reason.” Yet I did not find a single topic she could not discuss with accuracy and an incredible depth of knowledge.
She is erudite, with knowledge that comes not just from study, but intense study and often living the subject matter. Intensely loyal to old friends, she is equally engaged with new ones. Often her humor is dry… bone dry. She is not someone to take for granted or under estimate, after all she grew up in Chicago and that’s a tough town.
It is said you can learn a lot about a parent by watching the children, and we had the honor of meeting Jason and Samantha. It was strange for me because I had been reading about Michael and Annie, John Rourke’s children in the Survivalist since 1982. They are NOT Michael and Annie, they are unequivocally Jason and Samantha, but every now and then Michael and Annie peek around the corners of Jason and Samantha. Like most brothers and sisters they are as different as night and day, but they in some ways are reflections of each other.
It is also said you can tell a lot about a person by their pets. Shelby is as protective over Sharon as Sharon always was over Jerry. It took me a lot longer than normal to win Shelby over. She like Sharon is a watcher… She like Sharon is more impressed by actions than by words.
Sharon is an accomplished cook, her kitchen is well laid out and completely functional, yet warm and welcoming. My favorite part of her kitchen is the top of her refrigerator where a Long Ranger and Silver cookie jar sits. It reminded me of a story Jerry told me once about when he interviewed Clayton Moore. Moore had played the Long Ranger longer than anyone else. He asked Jerry to call him Clayton instead of Mr. Moore. Jerry told him, “Look, I’m having enough problem not calling you ‘Kemosabe.'”
Sharon is the Guardian of the universe she and Jerry created. She is the Gatekeeper. She will allow you to visit that universe, to walk among mysteries, monsters and myths. Her mind functions like a fine timepiece — but she is able to focus on several different and complex premises simultaneously.
I can honestly say I have never met anyone like Sharon Ahern and I doubt I will again. The timeline she has lived, the universe she and Jerry created, all of the bumps and blessings they shared along the way, created someone unique. Fascinated with antiques and dragons, mystery and myth, fact and fiction (although she prefers facts), predictability and adventure all combine into this person I am proud to call my friend.
I have learned a lot from this woman, one thing I have learned is she is persistent.
“Bob, you have to get on Facebook.”
“I don’t want to get on Facebook.”
“Bob, you have to get on Facebook.”
“I don’t have time for Facebook.”
“Bob… GET ON FACEBOOK.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” I am now on Facebook, hahahaha.
Happy Birthday Sharon (tomorrow) and I wish you many more. Thanks for letting Pam and I into your world. Thanks for being my mentor but mostly, thanks for being my friend. Oh and by the way, I’m on Facebook!