It didn’t take long for Free-Jon to decide that it was ok to have a sister, after all.
Tani said the kids made friends while dancing.
“Just move like this,” Free said. “Let the music lift your arms up!”
“Like this?” said Emelia and Roxanna.
“Just like that,” said Free, feeling pretty happy to be able to teach somebody something.
“You’re the best big brother,” said Roxanna, and Free was all smiles. It’s hard to resist a little sister’s adulation.
We want Plum Day to be special for the kids, so Tani, Elder, and I got up early to decorate the house.
“So much has changed, Tani,” I said while we waited for the kids to get up. I was thinking how it was when we first moved into this big house, and about all who’ve left us since then: Alex’s dad, both of Tani’s parents, Dr. Jasmine. And all who’ve moved out of this house: Gray, Emma, Aya, Forrest, Alex. And all who’ve joined our big extended family: Elder, Free, Emelia, Roxanna, Liam, Desiree.
“It’s awesome,” Tani said. “It’s what life’s all about! And you know, what’s important never changes. Friendship and family!”
Roxanna was the first kid up.
“Mom!” she said, wrapping me in a huge hug.
Then she hugged Tani, then Elder, and as soon as Free was up she tackled him in a bear hug.
“Good morning, Freezer Bunny Wolff Tea!” she shouted.
I kept an eye on Emelia, wanting to make sure she wasn’t feeling left out. I mean, she just joined our family a short while ago, and since then, her favorite friend Aya moved out and Roxie has moved in.
But Emelia is doing great. She’s loving being a kid. And I feel I can trust her reslience: she’s seen more in all her travels through time and space than I can even imagine!
And she and Free will always have those adventures that they shared together, just the two of them.
On Sunday morning, we all headed over to Oakenstead so we could meet the other Gooding kids. Alex, Forrest, and Aya had found Dr. Jasmine’s old Plum Day decorations stored in the attic and really made the place look like festive.
“You must be Desiree!” I said to the cute girl in braids. She seemed like she’d stepped out of a fairy tale, with her sweet smile and a sparkle of magic in her eyes.
“I’m Liam” said the third Gooding kid.
And he started telling me, in a very precise manner, his strategy for earning high score every time at blic-block. Elder hung on his every word!
When Roxie ran in after playing on the monkey bars, she greeted Elder with a hug.
All these gifts that Dr. Jasmine left us! A big home and three kids!
I felt a rush of gratitude. So much has happened here in Oakenstead! This is where I first saw Elder, during our first Plum Day celebration. In this very room I first met Elder’s mom. Here’s where we had our wedding. Elder always said that he felt that Dr. Jasmine was like the guardian angel over our marriage–she’d been the one to encourage me not to give up on love. And now, her home had become an extension of our own, as our family of friends spread through town, always growing to include more people to hug.