I've mentioned before about the love, admiration, and respect that I have for my daughters, both of whom have turned into remarkable adults despite having me as their father. Today, let me brag about my youngest daughter, Christina, as she celebrates her birthday.
Where to begin? With the smart and determined three-year-old who never of a game of Memory and who could easily zip through a Find the Word puzzle? The preschooler who was both so calm and concerned during a medical emergency? The girl who wouldn't speak to me for three days because I send her doll down an escalator unescorted? (You had to have been there.) The one who wanted to be a mailbox for Halloween? Or the thirteen-year-old who designed her own strikingly beautiful cat costume which left everyone flabbergasted? The girl who would regale us with stories about dissecting a cat for her biology class? The girl who, from the time she was ten, helped us at the local equity theater, earning the respect of the actors and our audiences alike? (While in high school, she would invariably get a crush on one actor in each play, and invariably that actor would turn out to be gay -- one of the perils of theater life.) The mischievous girl who could pull a trick on her high school dean with a straight face? The studious girl who struggled with high school German, and later, with college organic chemistry (and let us never forget the Summer of Physics)? That girl.
She went to George Washington University. As a freshman she tagged along with a roommate who was interested in the school's Tae Kwon Do club but did not want to go alone. The girl soon dropped out, but there was something about the sport that interested Christina. Christina stayed with it but it wasn't easy. She would hit a plateau but would stay working with determination until, suddenly, she would take a large step forward and eventually hit another plateau. This cycle continued, but she won the respect of everyone there. She eventually won her black belt and was elected president of the club.
One of her roommates, Heather, was a very light-skinned African-American. On day Heather was telling Christina about how her high school guidance counselor that is she marked "other" under race in her application, that would increase her chances of getting into college. Christina was puzzled, "Why would you do that?" "Christina, I'm Black!" "You are?" "Yes. You've met my mother. You've met my brothers. I'm Black." It wasn't that Christina was clueless, but that she did not see color. That was never anything important to her
In college, she worked part-time in a coffee and muffin shop in Pentagon City. At the end of each day, she would take a bag of Muffins that were to be thrown away and give them to the homeless on her way back to the dormitory. One man burst into tears. "My kids will appreciate this," he told her.
After college, he began working for an ambulance company, which is where she met her husband, Walt. From the ambulance company, she went to work for an OB-GYN, and then to the emergency room as an emergency tech as Fairfax Hospital. There, the doctors said that they always checked to see if Christina was working their shift. If she was, they knew that everything would run smoothly and they could concentrate on their patients. And it was there that Christina would sit with dying patients because nobody should die alone.
Christina was also volunteering for the local rescue squad, where she became an EMT and a paramedic. eventually serving as the squad's lieutenant. Once she and her partner responded to a call and met an elderly man whose wife had collapsed. He was in tears, 'I'm afraid she's dead." Christina's partner said, "dead we can handle" as they brought the heartbeat back.
Christina studied to be an echocardiologist and worked at a number of hospitals and medical offices in Virginia, Maryland, and Florida. Often she would catch something that others had missed, allowing some patients to get treatment they might otherwise have not given. For a time, she was also an adjunct teacher at George Washington University.
Constantly bending over, shifting patients, and lugging around a 500 pound sonograph machine can have a physical effect, so Christina began another career shift and studied to be a sign language interpreter. Currently she's working with a deaf girl in a local junior high school while taking other assignments as they come up.
As far as family life goes, she married Walt and they had two wonderful children, Mark and Erin. Christina has wonderful pregnancies and terrible births. With Mark we came dangerously close to losing both her and the baby. Erin's birth was also very difficult. Mark's facial muscles were damaged during his birth and it took years of therapy to overcome the results of that trauma. Despite her difficult birth, Erin turned out fine.
Both kids are now active, strong, intelligent, and good-looking. They are decent, well-liked, and kind-hearted. Christina and Walt have done a wonderful job as parents.
Christina really wanted another child. She and Walt began fostering. The Kangaroo came along. He had been born to an addicted mother and spent the first six weeks of his like at Children;s Hospital detoxing, then went immediately into Christina and Walt's care. The Kangaroo's birth mother had visitation rights and the State's plan was to eventually reunite the two, but she kept going in and out of jail until finally she gave up her rights to the child. Jack Harold Roof was officially adopted into our family. He has had a lot of medical problems that have been overcome and there will be more in the future. Jack will turn five in two months. He's bright, active, loving, and well-liked by everyone in his pre-school, Christina is an ace at parenting, just as she is with everything else. (Although she will be the first to tell you that that isn't true. But what the heck does she know, huh?)
They live in a house chock full with kids and animals (three dogs, three cats, a ball python, a tortoise, a bearded lizard, and a giant South American tegu -- the two hedgehogs sadly passed away) and noise. They make soap in their spare time (Cove Lake Soapworks. Fantastic stuff. Check it out on Etsy.) This past month, Christina was seriously considering buying a zoo, but the numbers didn't work out. What they did buy is a boat because the Gulf of Mexico beckons.
I can't help but admire all the things Christina has done and the things she will do. My family makes me proud and Christina is just one reason why.
Happy birthday, my darling. We love you and your family very much.