It Takes a Village was the catchphrase in the late 1990’s. According to Wikipedia, it proclaimed a vision for the children of America mainly focused on education. The tenet was simple. For better or worse, individuals and groups outside the family impact a child’s well being and that society should meet children’s needs. The vision, an admirable goal, had and still has chinks IMHO, but that is not the issue.
The “Village” is theoretically comprised of not only children but of young adults, mature and elderly. The picture isn’t as pretty for those at the other end of the spectrum.
Recently, I had a distressing conversation with a physician’s wife. Her husband had scheduled major surgery for a patient who had been under his care for a number of years. This was no ordinary procedure but a life saving operation. The next day, he was stunned to learn this patient had contacted the office and cancelled. He, of course, returned the call as soon as possible and asked why? Why would she cancel when the procedure was crucial?
The answer literally broke his heart.
She had no way to return home afterward.
She explained that her husband had passed over a year ago. Her children lived out of state and couldn’t return at that time and her neighbor, the only one she could think of, was under the weather. There was no one to drive her home.
How sad that our lives seem to revolve around smartphones, ridiculous sitcoms and communication today consists of texting instead of face to face conversations. How utterly grim to learn that an elderly woman would call off a life altering procedure simply because she had no one to call.
My fervent hope is this is not the norm but a sad singular situation…that most respect those who have achieved those “golden years”. Stories such as these always remind me of a particular epigram.
“As you are…so was I. As I am….so shall you be.”
There is a wonderful conclusion to this story. Not only did the physician drive the patient home, his wife cooked several days of food for the patient. Now that’s the definition of a hopeful village.