“They don’t make them like they use to.” That expression not only applies to cars and homes of superior quality, but to people as well. Christine has the two C’s that make her a classic: Character and Charm. But she also has a third C that I have truly appreciated: Courage. Her life began over eighty-one years ago, just as the world was entering the Great Depression. She was born in Miami, Florida, and is the second of four children. Christine’s parents divorced when she was young and her mother found herself single and struggling to provide for her family at a time when that seemed impossible.
Christine’s mom felt fortunate to have a job, even though she had to pay for it – literally. Times were so bad that she paid her employer one dollar an hour to be a waitress. She tried to provide for her children on the tips, but this could only last for so long. Eventually all four children were put into a state-run group home. Christine wasn’t quite five years old, and even though I couldn’t imagine being taken away from my mother at that age, Christine seemed to find the silver lining in that experience. She said she was one of the fortunate few who was reunited with her mother within a few months, and was thankful for the manners she had learned during her short stay.
At fifteen, Christine met her future husband. He was twenty-eight, and had just returned from World War II. She remembers going on long walks with him and admitted she still can’t imagine what he saw in a skinny little girl like herself. They soon married and Christine went on to have eight children. Sadly, her oldest son died at the age of three. Her family eventually settled in western North Carolina. Even though the war was over, it still had lasting effects on Christine’s husband. After twelve years of marriage, Christine and her husband divorced.
Now alone, and with courage I can only wish to have, Christine loaded up her seven children and moved to Los Angeles, California to be closer to her mother and sister. After a few years, Christine remarried. Her second husband was also a soldier, who had fought in the Korean War. They settled in Las Vegas, Nevada, where they resided until moving back to western North Carolina, Christine’s favorite place to live.
When asked what her happiest time in life was, Christine couldn’t recall just one moment. She beamed as she talked about the joy of being newly married, bringing a baby home from the hospital, raising her children, and learning about God. If a moment in her life brought much sadness, she would say, “That’s another story.” She didn’t want to dwell on the bad times, even though she did experience them. She did tell us that her saddest time was when her three-year-old son died. She also lost a daughter to death later in life. Her biggest regret was not being a better mom. She wished she could have been a stay-at-home mother during the crucial years when her children were young.
So what forgotten wisdom did I learn from Christine? I was truly impressed by Christine’s ability to dwell on the happy moments in her life. She is a true optimist, who was genuinely thankful for the abundant and varied life she’s lived. It made me realize that life is much like the mountains that Christine loves: sometimes it’s harsh and unforgiving, and other times it’s magnificent and breathtaking. We can’t control the good days and the bad days. All we can do is hope that the joys will outweigh the sorrows. The secret is to savor the highs, enjoy them while they last, and store them in a safe place to pull out when the storms of life blow in.
I also realized that my full-time job of being a mom is the most important thing I can do with my life. Christine didn’t have many regrets except the time she lost with her children; time she will never get back. There is no paycheck for being a mom, and sometimes not even a “thank you.” But the time and energy you invest (or don’t invest) will have lasting effects on the rest of your life. Christine has the superior qualities every mother needs: courage, strength of character, and the added bonus of charm, which puts her in the “classic” category.
by Aubrey Avila
Christine is one of the few people I know who can recall so many joys. Unlike most people, she had a hard time remembering her sad times, which made her a happier person. Another thing I learned is that I should appreciate my mom. Even though she can be tough on us, I know she is really doing it for my benefit. Christine also had a lot of courage (that I can only dream of having) to go across the USA with her seven children. I am happy to know Christine and be able to talk to her about her life. Understanding how hard her life was growing up in the Great Depression makes me appreciate the things I normally take for granted.
by Ansleigh Avila