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My View: It was truly a village that raised Jess

By Angela Demerle

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 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.

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


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