I’m thrilled to share another completed illustration for my children’s book For I Am Yours.
Lorraine Watry is the amazing illustrator, and she’s been blogging about her process for her followers and students. She has never illustrated a book before, but her watercolor paintings have won numerous awards.
When my daughter Carol Linn was about four years old, she asked me to tell her a story instead of reading one to her. She loved story time and would beg me to read at least two books a night to her, so when she asked me to tell her a story, I was in a bit of a panic. I hemmed and hawed until my eyes fell on her baby blanket that she hugged to her body. She would often use the ruffles to stroke her cheek while listening to books or watching TV.
This was the same blanket that covered her the first time we put her in her crib, the same blanket she held onto at six months old and wouldn’t let go of, and the same blanket she carried with her everywhere she went by the time she was two and could adamantly refuse to leave it.
So I began, “A soft, light-green blankie lay in a white crib, waiting for the special day. Blankie thought about the important job it had to do. Keeping a baby warm and comfortable was not a job for an ordinary blanket.”
She wiggled with excitement as I told “stories” that were based on true events. Carol Linn loved the story so much, she asked me to tell it to her again. I had a hard time remembering it the next night, so she reminded me of all the parts I had forgotten. When she asked me the third night to tell it again, I thought I’d better write it down. The two of us worked together to make sure I didn’t forget anything. I printed it out and read it to her a dozen times after that, and then she asked me to tell her a story about her stuffed animals, with the same result. Shortly after writing these stories down, Carol Linn started reading, so our nightly books became easy readers that she read to me.
The abandoned stories I wrote for Carol Linn were put into a folder and basically forgotten with a pile of notebooks. However, they stayed with me, in that folder, through two moves: from Rochester, New York to Colorado Springs and from Colorado Springs to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It wasn’t until I moved out to New Hampshire that I opened the folder again and found the stories.
I read the blankie story and started to cry.
By this time, Carol Linn was 21, independent, with seemingly little need for me in her life. I realized then that the personified “blankie” was really the story of my love for her.
When I showed Carol Linn the story after all these years, she cried as well and whispered, “I loved my blankie so much.”
You need to know that Carol Linn had kept her blankie until she moved to New Hampshire at 18 years old. It mostly stayed at the end of her bed or in the closet, but when I went to her bedroom after that emotional goodbye, her blankie was on her bed, curled up by her pillow.
When I told her my “mother’s love” theory, we both cried even harder. Our tears revealed the bond that had never disappeared; it just took on a different form as we aged, and our needs changed. Even though Carol Linn doesn’t sit on my lap and cuddle with me anymore, she knows I am here for her with open arms if she ever needs me: “For I am yours, and you are mine, ‘til the end of time.”