Lauren’s Story – The Travels of Dr. Rebecca Harper

I used to spend the summer with my grandfather when I was about seven years old. He drove to Kentucky to pick me up. My mom, who had my younger brother and sister, was happy to shed one kid, even if it was only for a month or two.

Grandpa and I flew to Reno to borrow horses and ride all over the area where she was considered to be buried. My dad searched for several months after my mom went missing, but he had to return to school and work.

We were lucky because my aunt stayed with me while my dad studied and worked. My Dad married my aunt two years after my bio-mother went missing. I call her Mom. She’s my “bio-mom’s” older sister, yet I don’t ever remember her as anyone but my mom. I think about my biological mom occasionally.

To be honest, however, my interest in her has faded. I have a sister and a brother who are still in school. I believe my brother will also become a vet, but my little sister wants nothing to do with horses. She takes after my mom and isn’t into riding. My mom and dad love fishing and hiking …

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Elizabet Woolsey Author - The Travels of Dr. Rebecca Harper - Lauren's Story

The Travels of Dr. Rebecca Harper - Lauren's Story

Dr. Lauren Harper recently graduated from veterinary school—no surprises here. Her father is a vet, as was her long-deceased mother, Dr. Rebecca Harper. Lauren's mom was killed in a landslide when Lauren was only three years old.

On Lauren's first day home from college, she discovers a story written by her grandfather about his life, including his attempts to find Lauren's mother after the accident. Lauren learned to ride while accompanying her grandfather in his fruitless search for his daughter.

Lauren's on her way to join her fiancé in Texas, but all is not as it seems. Revelations cause her to reevaluate her plans—recalculating route! Lauren's life takes a turn that will find her in Nevada and close to the area where her mother disappeared over twenty years ago.

She hopes to practice equine veterinary medicine and do a bit of sleuthing about her mother's mysterious disappearance. What could go wrong?

Lauren's modern-day adventures rival her mother's. Will she stay in her current position, or will she seek a life that gives her security that any recent graduate would relish?

This is once again a mixture of veterinary stories, adventure, and love. But does it end Happily ever after? You be the judge.

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Lauren's Story - The Travels of Dr. Rebecca Harper

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I’m a vet. Graduation was last week, and I am outta here. I can hardly wait to join my fiancé in Texas. I haven’t seen Dwight for three months. Let me tell you, I am ready to get it on. We’re going to be married soon and buy the veterinary practice at which he’s currently working.

My mom and dad are so proud that I’m carrying on the family tradition. My dad’s a vet, and my real mom, or-as I like to say-my bio-mom, was a vet, as well. She died when I was a baby. She was killed in a rockslide in Nevada, but her body was never found. My Grandpa Jack searched for her for years, but no one ever located her.

I used to spend the summer with my grandfather when I was about seven years old. He drove to Kentucky to pick me up. My mom, who had my younger brother and sister, was happy to shed one kid, even if it was only for a month or two. Grandpa and I flew to Reno to borrow horses and ride all over the area where she was considered to be buried.

My dad searched for several months after my mom went missing, but he had to return to school and work. We were lucky because my aunt stayed with me while my dad studied and worked.

My Dad married my aunt two years after my bio-mother went missing. I call her Mom. She’s my “bio-mom’s” older sister, yet I don’t ever remember her as anyone but my mom. I think about my biological mom occasionally. To be honest, however, my interest in her has faded.

I have a sister and a brother who are still in school. I believe my brother will also become a vet, but my little sister wants nothing to do with horses. She takes after my mom and isn’t into riding. My mom and dad love fishing and hiking. That’s a family tradition, too.

My brother used to go out to see my grandpa occasionally. Because Andrew played Little League in the summer, he wasn’t around Grandpa Jack as much as I was. He’s still a good horseman, but baseball rules in the summer. We could play catch for hours. He’s hoping for a scholarship.

I met my betrothed in vet school at Auburn. Dwight, who was three years ahead of me in school, is hunk-a-licious. Dwight completed an internship and residency in food animal medicine. He then moved to Texas, where he started to buy an old vet with a mixed practice.

A nice Texas A&M woman worked for him and was doing the small animal work, and he did the large. I am heading out to join them. Dwight and I are getting married in a few months. Signed, sealed, delivered-I’m his.

I went home to Kentucky after graduation and packed all my belongings. I packed my essentials: vet books, photo albums, fishing gear, and clothes. Dad planned to haul my horse and saddle to Texas later. Since Dwight told me to take my time, I caught up with my high school friends and family for some last visits.

My dad took me to his work. He works at a private research facility, which tests products for a genetic engineering firm. I love my dad, and I love to see him at work. He’s been my rock all my life.

It was rough when my real mom died. Dad kind of went off the deep end, and if it had not been for my mom, I mean my aunt-oh heck, she is my mom-we would have been living in a mobile home, and Dad would have died from alcoholism. Anyway, all’s well that graduates well. Pfft. I know I made my dad proud.

As we entered Dad’s office, we passed his secretary. Mrs. Mason has been at this facility for as long as my dad has been there. She’s ancient but refuses to retire. Mrs. Mason watched me and my family grow up, and Masey was aware of all the skeletons in our closet.

She knew everything that happened in our family. If I broke curfew, Masey knew. When my brother, Andy, got a DUI, she took him to court. She had no family and lived her maternal needs through us kids. Dad was quiet about the early years. Mrs. Mason didn’t realize that Mom was not my real mother until someone called about the anniversary of her death when I started vet school.

Of course, she’s been sliding around that topic ever since. When I came into the office with Dad, her first words were, “Oh, Lauren, wouldn’t your real mother have been so proud?” She handed me a perfectly wrapped present, which was a diary.

“Thank you, ma’am.”

“Lauren, I read those books about the vet in England. You know, All Creatures. Honey, write a few sentences each night, and you can write your own book in a few years.”

“Oh, Mrs. Mason. What a great idea. Thank you again.” As if I were a writer.

“Did you ever read the article about your real mom in that newspaper? You know, that man who was asking about her several years ago?”

“No, ma’am. I never did. I sent him some pictures, and I forgot about them. I guess vet school, Dwight, and the engagement kind of took over.”

“Yes, that would, wouldn’t it? Jeff, some mail is in your box, and the boss wants to discuss the latest test results with you.”

“Masey, what would I do without you? Lauren leaves for Texas soon, and we’re having a celebration dinner tonight at home. Sherry wanted to know whether you would come.”

“What time, Jeff?”

“I don’t know. If you come after work, though, I’m certain it won’t be too early.”

Dad and I went into his office. He had pictures of us kids and one that I had not noticed previously. Two young girls were on horseback.

“Dad, who are these girls?”

“That’s your mom and your,” he hesitated, “Becky, your real mom when they were children.”

I didn’t remember any photographs of them when they were young. “When did you get that?”

“When your grandfather died. There are more at home. Your mom received them while you were at school. Ask her about them.”

Dad showed me around the facility, which had been recently upgraded. I saw some of the horse handlers who had worked for Dad since I was a baby. After I finished the graduation tour and got all the graduation kudos for my dad, I went home.

My old horse, Moosey, was still in the paddock. I headed straight out behind the house to brush and inspect her. She was still sound and rideable at twenty-two. Grandpa gave her to me when I was twelve when he and I rode all over Nevada. She would join us in Texas after the wedding.

Dwight and I plan on doing the deed in February of next year. That gives us eight months to prepare for the wedding. Most likely, we’ll hold the wedding up here near Mom and Dad. Dwight’s parents aren’t too fussed. He is one of seven kids, and three are already married.

My mom, on the other hand, wants the whole nine yards. She and my dad were married in a very low-key ceremony. I was up at my grandfather’s when they married. They conducted the civil service and went on a fishing honeymoon while I stayed with my grandfather and learned to ride.

I cleaned Moosey’s feet, checked for anything that my dad might have missed, and returned to the house. Mom was preparing lunch for my brother and sister, Jane, who were home. School vacation had started. Andrew was a freshman at the University of Kentucky, and Jane was still in high school.

“Hi, Mom. What’s for lunch?”

“Lauren, get what you want. I’m headed to the grocery store. We have a few people coming by tonight.”

“Before you go, Dad has a photo of you and Becky on horses in his office. According to him, you have a box of stuff from Grandpa. May I see it?”

“Of course. It’s in the guest room closet. There are a lot of pictures of us both growing up. Have a look.”

“Can you please buy some Oreos?”

“Anything else?”

“Corn chips?”

“Jane,” Mom yelled. “are you coming?”

“No, I am gonna pass, Mom.”

“Mrs. Mason’s coming, in case you didn’t know. I heard Dad ask her to come after work.”

“Oh, good. We’ll have lemon meringue pie.”

Mom left. Jane and I stared at each other and ran to the stairs to reach the bathroom first. Since she won, I went to the closet in the guest room to locate the box of photographs. There were two cardboard boxes, but it was easy to tell which one she meant.

The battered box contained two shoeboxes. One was designated as photos, and one was marked “Becky.” I opened the photo box, where a hundred or more photographs of Mom’s family were piled. There were baby pictures, others up through high school, and some of Grandpa and Grandma.

My grandmother had died before I was born. Grandpa had a framed photo of her, which currently hung in the hallway with additional family pictures. I could recognize both my bio-mom and mom easily. My bio-mom had curly hair, while my aunt-mom had straight hair. I loved looking at these. I selected a few of them to take with me to Texas.

I opened the other box with news clippings about the rockslide and my real mom’s death. An envelope, labeled ‘2002,’ was filled with several articles concerning a possible sighting of my mother approximately twenty years after she had gone missing. I had not heard about this. I read a clipping about an inquiry into her death.

My mom had been killed in a rockslide, along with a woman vet from Lake Tahoe. They had ridden up to a place called Miner’s Meadow. Both had been presumed killed when a massive rockfall occurred along the ridge where they were riding. The remains of both horses and the older vet were found, but my mother never was located.

I was only three years old at the time. I don’t remember anything about it. My grandpa spent years trying to find her. When I was old enough to ride, I joined him. I didn’t really know why we searched, but I loved being with him in the summer.

Finally, when he was too old to make the trip from his home in Montana, I went up there to spend some time with him for a few weeks each summer. He taught me how to ride and took me up to his cabin in the mountains. Grandpa died a few years earlier while I was still in vet school.

The possible sighting of my real mother was news to me. I’d received a strange phone call from a reporter around that time. I sent him some pictures for an article he was writing about my mother for the local paper. I didn’t know how the reporter found me.

Since Mom and Dad were away at the time, I believe Dad’s office provided the reporter with my name. It was strange because someone from the FBI called me afterward to inquire about the conversation. I gave him the reporter’s email address, but I never heard any more regarding it.

This was all new to me. I never thought about the chances of my real mom surviving. Grandpa and I attempted to find her body to return her to Montana for burial with my grandmother.

Another envelope held a police report about Grandpa’s disappearance from the old-folks home. It was peculiar. I didn’t know anything about that at all. It happened at about the same time the reporter called me. Some lady took Grandpa out of the home for the day, and no one ever saw him again.

At the bottom of the box was an envelope with about fifty pages of a typed story. I started to read it. A locket fell out of the jacket that held Grandpa’s story. The pendant was a horse head.

“Hey, Jane,” I shouted. “Come in here.”

Jane came around the corner. “What?”

“Have you seen this?”

“Nope. You can have the bathroom now.”

“No, seriously, look at this. You haven’t seen this?”

“What is it?” Jane thumbed through the pages and looked at the locket. “Nice. Cheap, but nice.”

“It seems like a story about Grandpa’s life.” I read a part in the middle when he talked about moving to Mountain Laurel with Grandma and having Mom.”

“Let me see it.” Jane snatched the bundle. The pages fell and were mixed up in the process. I pushed Jane away as she grabbed more papers and let them fall. She picked one up, read it, and handed it to me. “This is about your mom.” She offered me a page. “It reads she was born in 1949.”

I gathered the pages and began to put them back in order. I read on the last page that grandpa was to be buried with our grandmother up on the mountain. I kind of remembered that Grandpa used to take me to a spot near the cabin, where he sat by some rocks to tell me stories about my real mom and my grandmother.

I didn’t recognize the locket. I took the papers to my room, where I sat on my bed to read about my grandfather and my real mother. They were a great find. I wondered why my mom hadn’t shown all this to me earlier. Where did the locket come from? I fell asleep and woke up only when I heard my dad yell at Jane to feed the horses.

“Dad, Lauren’s home. She can do it for once.”

I jumped up from the bed and went downstairs after putting on the locket. I didn’t say anything and wanted to see if anyone noticed. I fed both the horses and the dogs. Mrs. Mason was in the house when I returned.

“I need to shower. Who’s coming tonight?”

“The Childers, the Bakers, and the new minister from the church. You’ll like him. I hope he can perform your wedding.” Mom looked me over. “Run upstairs, and hurry back. This party is for you.”

“How about Sara and Jodie?” I asked.

“Nope. Not back from California yet.” They were my best friends from high school. They both attended colleges in California and started grad school a couple of years previously.

“You need to pack tonight. We’re leaving for the Smokies tomorrow.” Our entire family was going camping in North Carolina before I headed out to Texas. We’d all been hiking the Appalachian Trail for years. Mom and Dad said we should hike one more part before the family broke up for good.

“I’m packed,” I yelled.

“Sherry, I’ve got some bad news.” I could hear Dad talking to Mom in their bedroom.

“Jeff, if you are going to tell me we can’t go now.” I heard the bedroom door slam. I could hear loud voices but didn’t catch the rest of the threat.

When I was clean and came downstairs, Mrs. Mason was finishing the meringue. Andrew pointed upstairs and announced, “World war three.”

“Dad can’t go?”

Mrs. Mason looked up and rolled her eyes. “The big boss has grounded us all. I think we will be bought out, and anyone wanting a job needs to be here all next week.”

“Oh, wow. That sounds serious.”

“Well, maybe it’s time I retired.”

“Oh, no. What will our dad do without you?” Andrew licked the extra meringue.

“Andrew, get out of that.” Mrs. Mason swatted him.

Dad came down first. At least he wasn’t bleeding, but it appeared he had taken a beating. “Bad news, guys. I won’t be able to go tomorrow. We have to postpone it for a week until I sort out what’s happening with the company.”

“How’s Mom accepting it?”

“Lauren, she’s fine. We’re going to postpone it for a week.”

“Oh, no. I can’t go. My new job starts next week. Dwight will be apoplectic if I don’t get down there.”

Dad looked at me and cocked his head. “I can’t risk not being here. It seems a much larger company is taking us over, which may eliminate several positions, including mine.” Dad pulled a beer from the fridge.

The doorbell rang, signaling the arrival of our guests. Mom, who was not a happy camper, joined us, but she was ready for the evening after a gin and tonic. Both families brought me small graduation gifts.

The barbecue was delicious. The minister, with wavy light-brown hair and dimples that you could bury the constitution in, was young and eager. Thankfully, I was engaged. He agreed to officiate at the wedding—another box ticked in the plans.

“I swear your accent is very different since y’all have been in Alabama for the last few years. I know we all have accents, but you practically have added another vowel onto your words, Lauren.”

“‘War Eagle,’ Mrs. Baker, and proud of it.” I laughed as I added more twang to my voice. Dad observed me all evening. It was only when we were eating our dessert that I remembered the locket.

“What?” I looked at Dad when he was helping clean the dishes. Mom had gone to bed early. She was prone to migraines.

“Where did you get that necklace?”

“I found it with some papers Mom had in a box. It was in Grandpa’s stuff. I thought it might be Grandma’s. Do you remember it?”

“It looks like your mother’s, I mean your real mother’s. We looked for it when she went missing. I can’t believe he had it.”

“Gee, Dad. Do you mind if I keep it?”

“I can’t believe your grandfather had it all this time. Let me look at it.” I took it off and handed it to him.

He held it and turned it over. “It’s definitely hers. Becky was wearing it when she got on the plane for Nevada.”

“It was with his papers. I think he had someone write up his story. Have you seen the papers?”

“No, what papers?”

“They were in an envelope mailed to Mom.”

“I don’t know anything about them.”

“Mom told me they were in the guest bedroom, you know, with the pictures, like the one in your office.”

Dad glanced away. He handed me the locket. “Well, I’m glad it’s yours. I know she’d want you to have it. Maybe save it until you leave for Texas. Your mom is a wee bit upset about our trip now. No need to rattle the cage any further.”

“Yep, got it.” I thought for a minute. “Dad, I believe I’ll take off for Texas tomorrow. I’d like to surprise Dwight.”

“What do you need?” Dad gazed at me, and I could tell he was hurt. “I’m really sorry, sweetie.” He had aged a great deal since I had left for vet school. His hair had gone white, and he had a bald spot now.

His arms were thinner, with the age spots characteristic of older men. My real mom’s death had taken its toll. He was much older than Mom was, anyway. He always acted young, but he was aging. If he didn’t have us kids, I’ll bet he would have loved to retire.

“Dad, I’ll be fine.” I hugged him and went back upstairs to read more of Grandpa’s story.

We said, “Sweet dreams,” simultaneously. Dad added he would see me in the morning before I left.

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