This I Believe

Patrick - Salt Lake City, Utah
Entered on December 6, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family

I agree with Hillary Clinton that “It takes a village.” Hillary Rodham Clinton, the wife of former President Bill Clinton, is a state senator who made a recent run for the White House. About ten years ago, she also became an author when she wrote the book, “It Takes a Village”. This quote is based on an ancient proverb from Africa chosen by Clinton “because it offers a timeless reminder that children will thrive only if their families thrive and if the whole of society cares enough to provide for them.” I transformed this quote, which describes how I grew up into the quote, “It takes a village to keep a family whole.”

My village has at times been composed of my mom, dad, sister, both paternal and maternal grandparents, and a paternal set of great grandparents, numerous aunts and uncles, and close friends of my family. The village began to assemble before my birth and evolved as I grew up. My village participated in child care when my mom and dad were at work, and created an environment where I was encouraged to become me. The village varied with each caretaker and this gave me the wisdom to appreciate that different opinions were OK. The diversity in my village taught my sister and me that there was not one “right way” to live or think. As I grew up, the village supported my endeavors not as caretakers, but as cheering sections at my swim meets, music recitals, class plays and performances with the Opera and Symphony. The village always clapped and never booed, in spite of less than stellar performances. I always took comfort knowing that some part of that village would always be there if I needed it.

My grandmother was a role model and a care giver to everyone around her, and represents a huge part of my village. Last year, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and we weren’t sure how long she would live. My grandfather, her husband is demented and was unable to help her. That village that helped to raise me came together with a few new faces as a unit to keep our family together and whole. The village supported her through the long hours of chemotherapy and other arduous processes that drain the life out of people. Amazingly, I became part of that village as I took on new and different roles that once were in the domain of my mother and father, who now also had taken on new roles. Today, my grandma is healthy and her cancer is remission. Our village is once again whole and I believe we were a major part of her cure.

I believe that each family needs a village, not just to raise the kids, but to sustain the life within it. The village changes as life evolves, and it provides different support throughout the years. After this last year, I know that it is that village that maintains us.