April 7 was my birthday.
It was the first birthday without Bill in 20 years and I wasn't looking forward to it. Then several weeks prior my stepdaughter Erica called. "We're sending you plane tickets. The bluebonnets will be blooming here in Austin and we want you to be with us." So I went to Austin to see Erica and the grandchildren.
It was one of the best birthdays I ever had.
The Bluebonnets are indeed blooming and Mr. Fancy Pants the peacock is prancing around when I arrived at Happy Forest Farm in Manor, Texas.
There are many new things on the farm. The latest addition is Flower, the baby goat, born just a week prior. Erica feeds her three times a day. She has begun to nibble at grain and greens now.
The Children are growing up fast! Elsa, who is now 18 months, is walking and getting into everything.
She can't open doors yet, but it won't be long before she can join her siblings and the creatures on their 15-acre farm.
Ingrid, at four,is my shadow.
Our birthdays also fall on the same week, even though she didn't care much about the dress I knitted for her and took it off almost immediately, complaining that it was itchy against her skin.
Faith is six. A middle child who is at time serious and hard to figure out, but can also be boisterous and mischevious at other times as well. Here she is with a ball against one cheek and a rattle from a freshly killed rattlesnake against the other!Grace found the snake when she flipped over a board. She promptly got her father who shot the snake dead.
Grace, at eight, is already Erica's big help. She can milk the goat, muck the goat pen, feed the chicken and gather the eggs and well as do other chores around the house. Still she has time to be a kid.
Nate is ten. He is the "man of the house" while Dad is at work. Nate reminds me a lot of Bill, especially with his calm countenance and his matter-of-factness when talking. And that hair! That is definitely Bill's hair.
The children are so much fun. They are so alive. They give me love. They give me joy. They ask for nothing in return. They are such a pleasure. They are such gifts. They are a part of my life now and I am grateful for that.
They love me.
I left Happy Forest Farm knowing it is the place I can go back and will always be welcomed.
I stopped in at the Yarn Barn to check out the Prism trunk show and to show off the kids' pictures. I was in for a big surprise when I was given this.
My very own comfort blanket. Each friend knitted a square or two or three and Lee Ann put the squares together and crocheted the borders. Ellie said they started after Bill's death. In red, white, and blue. There are hearts and angels and butterflies and flowers. There are multi-diretionals and yarn-overs (my mortal enemy!) They were knitted with love and care and compassion. They tell me I have friends who care, who love me, who want to comfort me. The blanket represents all that. And more. My very own security blanket.
I have the love, security, comfort of family and friends. They are within reach. I can reach out and they are there for me.
I am not so lost after all.
Bill would approve.