Village

Elaine never married.
She has no close family.
Retired once, she now works
for a trucking company.
When she had a heart attack,
her neighbor was the one
who rushed her to the hospital.
Six months later Elaine had heart surgery.
Later still she fell and broke a kneecap.
Each time people came to the rescue:
four neighbors, a co-worker, and a good friend.
These people cared for Elaine’s pets
when she could not.
They prepared her meals,
cleaned her house,
set out her trash bins,
filled her prescriptions,
and tended her garden.
They brought in her mail,
brought over books for her to read,
and often brought her some cheer,
which otherwise would have been
in rather short supply.

The African proverb goes,
“It takes a village to raise a child.”
Something similar is true for us, here.
For essentially all cases of caregiving today,
it takes a village.
Elaine’s situation is a bit unusual,
with no family members to step in,
no ready-made support to quickly appear.
It was up to the village around her
to organize and deliver her care.
Yet even in situations where plenty of family
and friends automatically and regularly
provide loving care,
still it takes a village.
Physicians and nurses,
pharmacists and lab technicians,
home aides and therapists,
good neighbors and close friends.
Those people who want to do something
for the one who’s ill or incapacitated,
and those people who want to support
the ones who are so busy
with the essential day-to-day care.
People of all ages,
from all walks of life,
with divergent experiences to call upon.
As caregivers, we can be grateful
that we live in a village,
whether that village is a rural community,
a mid-sized town,
or a teeming metropolis.

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