Most of us are familiar with the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child,” meaning a child has a good opportunity to become a healthy adult if the entire community takes an active role in contributing to his or her rearing. That rang true for me when my sons grew up in Gig Harbor. I knew they were getting a good education, both academically and socially. I credit the Peninsula School District and the community with helping them to become responsible, successful, caring adults.
I often think of the proverb in a different context: the Gig Harbor community is a “village” of caring and involved people who help each other. Doing so makes us healthier in our own way.
Let me explain: My husband of 32 years, Corbett Platt, was diagnosed with tongue cancer in October 2014. For the next 2 ½ years, he endured countless treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation and several clinical trials. Despite everything, the tumor grew and grew, and it took control of his body. He passed away on March 28. As hard as it was to lose him, I know he is in a better place and that he is no longer suffering.
Throughout his illness, our close friends spent countless hours helping in every way possible. They often took time out of their day to drive him to and from Seattle for radiation treatment at the University of Washington Medical Center. Despite weather and traffic, they never complained.
Friends picked our sons and their wives up at the airport at all times of day and night, and they even let them stay in their homes when things got crowded at our house. They fielded inquiries about his heath throughout the community so I did not have to, and I think they even let him cheat at silly games like Chicken Foot.
And it wasn’t just our close friends who helped. People who hardly knew him brought the most delicious homemade soups and meals. A friend invited him to Tuesday morning breakfast at the Hy-Iu-Hee-Hee. He quickly made a new group of friends, and I discovered he knew more people in my Rotary Club than I did.
When he expressed an interest in mentoring high school students, the phone rang immediately, and he became a mentor in the Peninsula High School AVID program. The students there taught him more than he taught them, and he was devastated when his health necessitated that he step away from the program.
Most of us know we are fortunate to live in such a beautiful place. Perhaps because Gig Harbor is so beautiful we sometimes lose sight of the fact that a large part of what makes this area so special is the people. If you were born here or just recently moved, it doesn’t matter. This community provides an opportunity to be involved, and to be the person you want to be. Unlike other small communities, it doesn’t matter who you know or how much money you have; what matters is what you do for this community.
I want to thank everyone in the Gig Harbor “village” for making the last few years of Corbett’s life so special. His relationships were stronger and more meaningful because of the caring and involved people here, and for that I am truly grateful.
At his request, there will not be a service. However, Corbett would be honored if you recognize the special things people here do for others in Gig Harbor.
Jill Guernsey is mayor of Gig Harbor.