Who loves you back?

‘Family isn’t whose blood you carry- it’s who you love and who loves you back.’

The picture in today’s graphic is one of my favorites. That beautiful face Ajay is looking into so adoringly belonged to his Nanny, Justine. She began watching him when he was just two years old, and she was a frequent figure in our home for many years.

Ajay was not the only one who adored her- we all did. As the years have passed we find time to be together less and less, but that has not changed the bond we have. She is getting married in June, and today I am co-hosting with her mother and her sister, a bridal shower in her honor. (Admittedly, they have done all the work- I have just opened our home up for the event.)

When I mentioned to Ajay that ‘Tine would be coming over today (his nickname for her because he could never pronounce Justine…) I was taken aback at the way he blushed red and turned away. In a moment of sweet realization it dawned on me that all of the ‘little boy’ love that he had for her when he was a young child, felt embarrassing to his nine-year old self… Such a reminder of how age encourages us to tuck our feelings away out of sight…

Her shower starts at 1:00, and Ajay has a soccer game at 1:30- so they will see each other in passing …. She the glowing bride to be, and he decked out in his competition uniform… looking every bit the athlete that he is….(Did I mention that ‘Tine was a collegiate athlete, and that 99.5% of her Nannying duties with Ajay involved a ball of some sort?)

I bet they will both feel a rush of heat come to their faces- he for reasons he will not be able to understand, and she from the emotion that will rise up when she sees the little man he has become- and remembers her place in helping him to become this.

We may not see her very often, but regardless of how much time passes ‘Tine will always be ‘family’ to us.

Because we love her… and she loves us back.