There is the family that you were born with and the one that you acquire.
You have no control over the family that fate gives you. They might be selfish, dishonorable and otherwise loathsome. Or they might be awesome. One has no say.
One the other hand, the family that you acquire is all on you. It warms my heart to see the tribe that Harlen has assembled.
Harlen and I constantly do things together. As we travel I have watched a cadre of people that truly love him. They go out of their way to interact with him. They miss him when he isn't with me. Just the other day I was going to my buddy Brian's house. He was genuinely saddened that Harlen wasn’t with me and made sure that I knew that next time Harlen was expected. At Uncle Brian's house Harlen is just another kid in their gaggle thereof. He is part of their extended family.
There is a fellow at the grocery, a Bryan of a different spelling. He always stops what he is doing so as to talk to Harlen. Once he was talking to his supervisor when Harlen and I walked into his department. Bryan asked his boss to wait and left him standing while he and Harlen chatted, unrushed for several minutes. Eventually he asked Harlen, not me, if he could go back to talk to his supervisor. If I am alone Bryan never fails to ask about Harlen and tells me to tell him "hi."
There is a waitress at his favorite restaurant who adores him. No matter how busy she is, she comes by to talk to him...and secondarily, she talks to Sandra and me. Strangers love him too. This last Saturday, Haren and I went to a car show. Of course, we had a dog in tow. A lady approached Harlen and spent a long time talking to him about our pup, Domino. She was truly enjoying interacting with him. I was on the periphery of the conversation, enjoying watching them chat. It was warm, friendly and genuine.
It would stretch verbosity to the limit were I to recount all of the people that love him. The point is that Harlen has his people and they are plentiful, kind and loving.
Your Mom and I am proud of you, Harlen.
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