Interview with Barbara Strickland from ‘An Axe to Grind’ by F.M. Meredith
F. M. Meredith: Barbara, I know that you are the mother of three sons. I also know that their father, your first husband, died in the line of duty. If it’s not too painful, would you tell me about that?
Barbara: Al Bertalone was a wonderful husband and father. He was also one of the most popular men in the Rocky Bluff Police Department. I was on a ride-along with Al when he was called to a scene. He was shot and killed right in front of my eyes. That was the worst moment of my life.
F. M. Meredith: That must have been horrible for you. I suspect your husband’s death affected many other lives as well.
Barbara: Oh yes. Doug Milligan was my husband’s best friend. His wife left him after Al was killed despite all my efforts to convince her to stay. She never did like the fact that Doug was a police officer. Al’s death convinced her she wanted nothing more to do with being the wife of a cop. Doug had a difficult time recovering from both things. Now that he’s engaged to Stacey Wilbur, things are looking up for him, though they seem to have a tough time actually pinning down a date for their wedding.
F. M. Meredith: When did you and Ryan Strickland become interested in one another?
Barbara: Ryan was a wonderful help to me after Al’s death. The department assigned him to help me with funeral arrangements and whatever else I needed. At first, he was an annoyance. My first husband and I used to call him a publicity hound because somehow no matter what was going on, Ryan always managed to get his picture in the paper and be the officer who was quoted. Later I learned that he kept a scrapbook for all his clippings. Now I’m the one who does that and he has the perfect job.
Though I was the widow, right after Al’s death, everyone seemed to lean on me and expect me to help them through their grieving process. Ryan was the only one who seemed to realize that I needed to grieve too. We spent a lot of time together. No one was more surprised than I was when he asked me out on a date. And I was even more surprised when he asked me to marry him.
F. M. Meredith: You two seem to be getting along just fine now.
Barbara: As it turned out, Ryan is a wonderful lover and he enjoys being around me and my family. He’s not tried to take Al’s place with the boys, but he likes them and they like him. I wish he liked to go to church more often. He always seems to find an excuse to get out of going. Except for that, we are quite compatible. At least we were until something happened to one of the boys.
F. M. Meredith: Something serious?
Barbara: It could have been far more serious than it was. My son turned to Ryan for help. I learned something about myself that I’m not proud of and I hope never happens again.
F. M. Meredith: It’s a bit surprising that you married another police officer after what happened to your first husband.
Barbara: Not really, being a cop’s wife is all I know. When you’re married to a cop you don’t have many friends who aren’t married to cops. For one thing, we wives always know things about cases that we can’t share with anyone. Al used to laugh and call it the wives’ grapevine. Sometimes I find out things from other wives before my husband even knows, especially what is happening in the police officers’ private lives. If I hadn’t married Ryan, I don’t think I would’ve married again.
F. M. Meredith: Tell me about Ryan.
Barbara: He is so handsome, I can’t believe he wanted me for a wife. I don’t think I’m homely, but I’m certainly nothing like the glamorous women he dated before me. Everyone always thought he was self-centered and shallow, but believe me, he’s a wonderful caring husband and he loves me. He demonstrates his love in so many ways.
F. M. Meredith: Thank you so much, Barbara for sharing so much about your life. For those of you readers who would like to find out what caused the problem with Barbara and her husband, you can learn about it in the latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel, An Axe to Grind.
An Axe to Grind is available in all the usual places and for an autographed copy, you can order one from my website: http://fictionforyou.com
If you’d like to see what goes on in this author life, you can check out my blog http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com