I believe many of you know of the special children’s book garden we have in my area called Bookworm Gardens. It opened in October of 2010.
When I first heard about the planning of the gardens I had just come out with my first book about Frankie. I contacted the founder, Sandy, and asked if there was a possibility for Frankie’s story to be represented in the gardens. She said an enthusiastic, “Oh yes! Of course!”
With the help of my mom and the Richardson foundation they sponsored Frankie’s garden. My husband John lovingly built this dog house to represent Frankie’s story. Sandy had a stone likeness of Frankie shipped over on a boat from Italy. It still cracks me up to think about how a dog with a German heritage came over on a boat from Italy! John and I then purchased a used wheelchair from Eddie’s Wheels and John custom-fit the wheelchair to the Frankie statue.
I’ll never forget the day my husband and one of his construction crew guys, Joe, wheeled the doghouse down to it’s beautiful place in the garden. I was, and continue to be so honored to have Frankie represented there for children to enjoy for many years to come. I also knew in the back of mind that this place would someday provide me some peace and comfort when Frankie was no longer here.
Well I believe everything happens for a reason and it was no coincidence that a very special lady named Dawn, and her sister and Mom had planned a trip to Elkhart Lake June 24-27 and little did we know we’d be saying goodbye to Frankie days before that.
Dawn is Mom to a very special little boy named Jackson that I would have never met if not for Frankie. On a trip over three years ago to Elkhart Lake and a local resort, Dawn saw Frankie’s book in the gift shop and bought it for him. You see, Jackson has special needs also and needs to wear a brace on his leg. After returning to her state of Illinois and reading the book to Jackson, he was able to understand that like Frankie, he too, needed to wear his leg brace to help him be the best he can be. A few weeks later we met Jackson and his family. When Jackson turned five we drove to Illinois to surprise him for his birthday. Jackson and Frankie shared a very special connection– and as you can imagine, Jackson’s heart broke when Dawn shared with Jackson that Frankie had died.
Jackson with Frankie at this 5th birthday
Dawn, her sister and mom and this trip planned long before we knew Frankie would no longer be here. Dawn heard of Frankie’s passing and had emailed me, also sharing they were going to be here and were planning to visit Bookworm Gardens. I couldn’t say a definitive yes at first that I would want to visit the gardens to soon after Frankie was gone. But when I thought about all that I believe in, I knew this was a sign from Frankie that I needed to go and she sent Dawn to be the special person who would make this easier and so much more special.
So it was not a sad day visiting Frankie’s garden. The garden’s were full of happy, joyful children running about, as well as a special day camp of special activities in full swing with the Educational Director, Beth, which was happening right next to Frankie’s garden. As we watched the children line up getting ready to head on over to Charlotte’s Web barn my heart felt so happy to see the smiles on the children’s faces. Each child had a large white sticker on their chest with their name on it. As the children started to walk by one little boy with very blonde hair skipped by and… you’ll never believe it… yes, his name was Frankie.
So as I wrote yesterday on my post, the gifts continue to come from Frankie… I suspect they will for some time to come. I’m reminded how amazing this thing called life really is, even when the physical of someone you love is gone… they are truly still here if you look for the signs.
It was such a wonderful day with Dawn, her sister Lori, and her mom Dorothy and I know it was to be played out just as it did. And on a side note, stay tuned for a very special day that Bookworm Gardens is planning in honor of Frankie. I’ll be meeting with the Educational Director in the upcoming weeks to help plan the event. Though my heart still hurts… it also sings for all the good things that continue to unfold. I’m truly blessed.