When she was about to turn four, my father told her that would not let her turn four because she was so good as three. She pleaded that she would be just as good at four, perhaps even better. With this ;promise, my father decided that she could turn four. Strange thing was, it was true -- she was better at four, and she has grown better each of the forty-three following years.
My brother's girls dubbed her "Genius Cousin Christina," a name she has carried with her for quite some time now. And she is smart. And wise. And witty. And compassionate. And determined. (My father had also said (again, when she was three) that he would put money on her every time.) And she knows her own mind. She came home early in her school years and declared that her name was Christina and not Christy, which is what we had been calling her until then. Of course we had to obey.
Somewhere along the line she also got the nickname Bink. Kitty sometimes called her "Christy Crinkles," which became "Christy Crink-a-Link," which eventually turned into Bink. Now it's just family and close friends who call her that. Her middle name is Eileen, after Kitty's mother. I think I was hoping that the name would have an opposite effect, like calling a fat person Slim or a tall kid Shorty. Eileen could often be a difficult person, but at her core she was loving and compassionate. It was those qualities of Eileen that Christina inherited.
I mentioned that Christina was determined. In college, she belonged to the school's taekwondo club, eventually rising to her black belt and becoming president of the club. It wasn't easy. The older members of the club, most of who had graduated and were medical doctors, said that Christina would do well, then reach a plateau, and eventually go beyond that plateau through hard work and determination. She would not give up.
She worked a number of jobs through high school and college -- babysitting, scooping ice cream, being nanny, working at a muffin shop (where she would take the unsold muffins that were about to be trashed to give to the homeless on her way back to the dormitory), typing books and articles for blind students. He first real job (they were all real, but you know what I'm saying) was with an ambulance company, which was where she met Walt, her husband of many years. She then worked as a med tech in an OB's office. (The OB later deliveered Mark, her first-born. More on that later. She became an emergency room tech. The ER doctors were visibly happy whenever they worked her shift because they knew things would run smoothly. While at the ER, she would stay with dying patients because she felt that no one should die alone. She also joined the local rescue squad, becoming a paramedic and an EMT. Once, she and her partner answered a call about an elderly woman. The husband met them at the door and said, I'm afraid she's dead." They answered, "Not on our watch," and managed to revive her.
Feeling a need for a career change, she became licensed as a cardio-stenographer, wheeling a large 500-pound unit through the hospital. Although she was not allowed to read the results (that was the doctors' job), she was able to catch a number of problems the doctors did not and was able to tip them off. Eventually her back began to bother her and it was time for another career change. She decided to become a sign language interpreter, a grueling process with many ups and downs. Currently she is assigned as an interpreter to a student at a local high school. She has been working with this student since the 7th grade and the student is now a junior. Once the student graduates, Christina will decide if she wants to continue in this field, or try something new.
Chrisitna's greatest accomplishment is her family. The oldest two -- Mark and Erin -- had very difficult births and we were not sure if either would survive birth without significant damage. We came dangerlously close to losing both Christina and Mark when he was born. This did not deter Christina's mothering instincts, though. As the kids got a bit older, Christina and Walt began fostering children. One of those children was Jack (not his name then), who was born to a drug-addicted mother and had to spend the first six weeks of his life in rehab. Immediate after rehab, Jack was placed with Christina and Walt, and eventually they were able to adopt him.
All three of Christina's children are different. Mark is quiet and reserved, but able to gain friends at the drop of a hat. Mark is a man of passions especially for running and soccer, and is truly loyal to his friends. At present he is thinking about becoming a marine biologist and (just yesterday) got his scuba-diving credentials. Mark also happens to be drop-dead handsome.
Erin has inherited her mother's detemination. She, too, can be quiet, but not as quiet as her brother. She has a wicked sense of humor, is musically talented, and is smart as a whip. She finished her first year of college while still in high school. Because of the pandemic all her sophomore year classes were taught online, so she did not live on the Tallahassee USF campus. Hopefully this year she will be able to and get a complete college experience. She works part-time and has won schoalrships from her work. Erin is amazingly beautiful.
Both Erin and Mark had some medical problems when they were younger and Christina spent a lot of time fighting insurance companies over their treatments. Again, Christina's determination won out. Both kids are fantastically healthy and happy today due no small part to Christina's championing them.
And then there's Jack. Jack came with a lot of problems, not the least of which is an inability to eat. He has been on a feeding tube for most of his eight years and we may -- just may -- be turning a corner on this problem. Jack also has impulse problems that have improved greatly since he was a toddler. On the other hand, Jack is a very intelligent and creative kid. He loves soccer, basketball, swimming and animals. He has a kind heart and is very loving. Jack is a cool dude and dresses the part. He has a lot of friends and can be a leader as much as he is a follower. Jack is also very good-looking and has told us that he has a girlfriend (Olivia) and that he has asked her to marry him and she agreed. Jack's bete noire is math, not because he can't do the work but because he doesn't want to. Christina's patient and unvarying love has work miracles with the boy, although there is a lot of work ahead.
Christina's warmth, love and humanity shine through in her children.
I haven't mentioned how much she means to her sister and her nieces and to us. Suffice it to say we would all be much poorer without her in our lifes. She is and always has been beautiful, both inside and out.
Christina is not the world's most perfect person (that title belongs to my wife), but she comes darned close. We are so prud of her and love her more than words can tell.