Our daughter Christina is many things: smart, talented, kind, pretty, witty, caring, determined...I could go on and on. One other thing she is today is a year older.
Did I say determined? For the first few years we called her "Christy." Then she went to school and told us in no uncertain terms that her name was "Christina" -- and so she has been ever since. Her fashion choices during elementary school were rigid: red socks and a printed top. I can't tell you how many years she wore that outfit but it sure made buying clothes for her easier. When she was three and her sister was five, Jessie (ever curious and sometimes non-thinking) pulled a pot of hot turkey grease on her, scalding her leg. We quickly hosed off Jessie's leg and bundled her and Christina into the car and headed to the emergency room. While the doctors praised us for such quick thinking, the nurses were praising Christina for being so calm and well-behaved while in the waiting room alone. Christina instinctively knew how to act during an emergency -- something she has kept with her for her entire life.
We never had much money but when she was young Christina would often feel guilty when she compared her life to those of her friends. Happiness in other homes was sometimes in short supply.
Very little phased her. As a child, the immensity of the universe truly scared her. I don't know if it still does but I do know that the universe should be very wary of Christina. As I said, Christina is determined, but she is also more than a little fierce.
When she was a freshman in college, one of her roommates wanted to check out the school's tae kwon do club but was afraid to go alone, so Christina went with her. While not the greatest at the sport, she worked hard and eventually won her Black Belt and eventually became President of the George Washington University Tae Kwon Do Club. (Her roommate dropped out after a week or so -- the sport required too much.)
As a paramedic, she and her ambulance partner were once greeted by an elderly man whose wife had collapsed. "I'm afraid she's dead," he told them. Either she or her partner (both were fierce in their job) replies, "Not on our watch," and managed to bring the woman back. As an emergency room technician, Christina would take it upon herself to sit with dying patients because she firmly believed that no one should die alone. Also it was no secret that, as an ER tech, the doctors were grateful whenever Christina was on duty because they knew that the ER would be running smoothly.
When Christina left that job to become a cardiac sonographer, she would pick up signs that the heart doctors would miss. She would also alert the doctors if they should see the patients sooner than later. Her experience at that job has come in handy recently as Kitty was going through her heart problems; Christina was able to explain a lot of the medical goobledegook to us so we had a better idea of what we were facing.
She currently works as a sign language interpreter for the school system, assigned to a single deaf student each year. After working with one girl through junior high and high school, she is now assigned to a special needs kindergarten. She Facebooked us this morning: "I am feeling the kindergarten love. They sang happy birthday to me." Then, "They made me a happy birthday Balloon bouquet." And then, "Chance [her student] made me a card." Working with these kids has brought a special joy to her, even though it can be cold during the daily outdoor PE sessions. Once a week the kids have a guided art lesson and Christina joins in, posting her work on Facebook. She may not be a great artist but her joy shines through.
Christina is a great and supportive partner for her husband and a proud and loving mother to her kids. All three of her children are amazing, although Jack at nine is a bit of a challenge. (His birth mother was a drug addict and, after going through drug rehab during his first six weeks at Washington Children's hospital, he was immediately fostered by Christina and Walt.) Slowly the challenges are being met and overcome and Jack is proving to be a warm, loving and funny kid; any future challeges will be met with the same love and determination.
If every one had a daughter, sister, mother, or friend like Christina the world would be a much better and much happier place.
We are so proud of her. And we love her. Beyond words.