It was truly a vil­lage that raised Jess

The Buffalo News - - OPINION - An­gela De­merle lives in South Buf­falo and is grate­ful for the un­sung he­roes who helped raise her daugh­ter.

Like most moth­ers, I some­times vi­su­al­ize my daugh­ter, Jess, walk­ing down the aisle to her beloved. But this dream world al­ways brings up a dilemma for me that most moth­ers do not share. Who, I won­der, will walk Jess down the aisle? You see, Jess’ father died when she was 3, but this tragedy cer­tainly did not limit her choices for an es­cort.

Rather, this great mis­for­tune ac­tu­ally re­sulted in a mul­ti­tude of peo­ple who had a sig­nif­i­cant role in her up­bring­ing and who could and should “give her away,” as the say­ing goes.

I as­sume, of course, that Jess would not choose to take that happy walk alone, but she cer­tainly could do that, as she is a beau­ti­ful, ac­com­plished young woman, per­fectly ca­pa­ble of mak­ing that trip down the aisle

The love of Jess’ “vil­lage” is the finest ex­am­ple of hu­man beings giv­ing of them­selves.

on her own.

But if she wants some com­pany, we would start with those who af­fected her very young years – the in­cred­i­ble friends her father and I shared in Texas, where we lived at the time of his death. These won­der­ful peo­ple took lov­ing care of us af­ter her father’s death and are still re­mem­bered most fondly al­most 30 years later. But we left for Buf­falo, my home­town, only six months af­ter, and this is where her walk up the aisle starts get­ting very crowded.

Her next steps would be with my en­tire fam­ily. They all, ev­ery last one of them, worked a mir­a­cle get­ting Jess, me, two huge dogs and our be­long­ings to Buf­falo without a hitch – but not without a lot of sac­ri­fice of time and ef­fort on their part.

Their sup­port didn’t stop there, how­ever. In­deed, Jess and I lived with my par­ents for five years un­til we moved just around the block when she reached age 9. Dur­ing that time, my par­ents cared for her as if she was their own. My broth­ers, sis­ter, their spouses and chil­dren have al­ways been there, too, of­fer­ing their love and com­pany, and sup­port­ing our way out of grief.

Next up the aisle with her would be the in-laws. Even though two states away, Jess’ dad’s fam­ily kept in close touch. We vis­ited them of­ten, with sum­mer weeks at the beach a very spe­cial treat. They all seemed to sense that they needed to keep Jess close. They suc­ceeded and are still a part of her life to­day.

But there still are so many more peo­ple who must join what is now quite a crowd tak­ing her down that aisle.

My cousin or­ches­trated a suc­cess­ful job search for me and in­volved me in her Buf­falo ac­tiv­i­ties, re­liev­ing my stress and grief. And then there are the mar­velous souls I worked with for so many, many years who al­lowed me to work part-time (some­what un­heard of in my pro­fes­sion), of­ten to their detri­ment, with nary a com­plaint, and al­ways noth­ing but com­plete sup­port. That is rare – very, very rare. And last in time frame, but never least, there is Jess’ step­fa­ther, who met her at age 11 and has be­come her su­per friend and con­fi­dant, and is as lov­ing a par­ent as one could de­sire.

What, you may ask, about her mother walk­ing her to her new life? That would be nice, I sup­pose, but ev­ery­thing I did for Jess could be ex­pected, as the love of a mother knows no bounds.

The love of Jess’ “vil­lage” is some­thing else en­tirely, the finest ex­am­ple of hu­man beings giv­ing of them­selves, some­times to their own detri­ment, just be­cause they chose that path rather than do noth­ing.

That, to me, is re­mark­able. Jess’ vil­lage is very spe­cial, and I hope all these won­der­ful peo­ple can all be present if that spe­cial day ar­rives so they can wit­ness the happy re­sults of all their love and sac­ri­fice.

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