One of Seventeen
21 Jan

I’m often asked why I wrote the fictitious story of One of Seventeen as an adopted blended family instead of the happy and secure family of seventeen children that I really grew up in the 1950s. I answered that I wanted to acknowledge the unfortunate tragedies that we as parents and children face alone because of the collapse of the family today. And the only way to do this was through blending today’s challenges and addictions around some hope and meaning for life that worked out alright for one couple to inspire others, especially middle school age.  This is not just an opinion, but true experiences of how my parents served and reached out to others that were inside and outside our family. Really. One of Seventeen is actually a valuable fairy tale for everyone.




The subject I write about is an unpopular one, but that hasn’t stopped me from writing about it. As a mother, coming from an unusually large family, I’m sorry to have lost too many young siblings and relatives to the tragedies and addictions that are plaguing so many families today. [And that’s a separate problem best left for our professionals.] But all these tragedies and collapse of the family happened in my family only ‘after’ both parents died that left me in astounding wonder, why, how, and what was their integrity that kept us together? One of Seventeen holds their gems of wisdom that carried me.



So, I prefer to spend my time examining the beautiful recollections of my parents’ endurance and ethical values, of seventeen children that lived happy healthy lives with a sense of meaning and accomplishment for more than fifty years of marriage. I know this to be true because my parents often reflected upon their blessings to us. I found their way of life to be so rare. The odds that were against them were tremendous! Just thinking about being one of their children still gives me the chills and greater passion to write that there might be something new learned for all of us here, including me.


Knowing they’ve reared seventeen children into mature adults without a major family crisis within their fifty years of marriage might sound unbelievable to most people, but it’s true. And for me to fill their shoes with a small family of my own isn’t easy and even harder today. But I’ve learned something else about them that was unusual; besides their good values and golden rule of keeping family together, there was something different in the way they had warned us about drinking alcohol: One glass was more than enough, and there would be something terribly wrong for any of us to numb ourselves further and cloud our better judgment for making serious life decisions. Neither of them drank alcohol or depended on mood-enhancing medication. So I spent my life without these things for fear of losing my way in the hope that one day I will reflect upon my own accomplishments with meaning as the wealthiest of blessings as they’ve had.

About the Author

Written by Catherine Nagle

Catherine grew up in Philadelphia with 16 brothers and sisters, reared by loving, old-school Italian parents. Catherine's artist father's works graced churches and public buildings; her mother was a full-time homemaker. A professional hairdresser, Catherine worked in various salons while studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual growth through courses, seminars, lectures, works of Marianne Williamson, and conferences, including the National Theology of the Body Congress. She is also an Ambassador of the Society of Emotional Intelligence. The mother of two children and now a grandmother, Catherine lives in Pennsylvania with her husband. She is the Author of Imprinted Wisdom, Absence and Presence, Amelia, and a contributor to Anne Born’s These Winter Months: The Late Orphan Project Anthology.

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