Monday, September 8, 2014

A Hero


She was christened Christine, but preferred Chris. 

She grew up when women were told their purpose was to make babies and serve their man.

Chris tried that, getting married and having 3 kids right out of high school. But, her husband's employment was uneven leaving her family perpetually broke.

That is when I met Chris.

She was a youth leader at Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Oakland CA.

I was a confused teen. I never related well to kids of my own age. Chris took the time to listen to me and my dreams of becoming an architect.

She assured me I could go as far in life as my dreams could take me.

Chris became my closest friend.

And, when I listened to her, I came to realize she also had big dreams. Her dream was to become a teacher.

But, first, she had to learn to drive.

Enter Francois, a hand-me-down, crap-clutch, 1940 something Chrysler she inherited. It was a one-of-a-kind with its screw-in bistro table in the backseat and pedal-operated Bombay bell.

She drove that car with verve.

Then, between child rearing, church and stepping in to provide a refuge for a homeless teen, she carved out time to attend a community college.

Chris went on to win a full scholarship to Oakland's prestigious Mill's College. She earned a B'Ed degree with honors. Maya Angelou spoke at her commencement.

Days don't get much better than that.

Chris then put her kids in her "seen better days" station wagon and drove them on a one-way "visit" to Coeur d'Alene Idaho. With very little money and no real place to live, that station wagon morphed into a temporary "home".  

But, Chris landed a teaching job and later went on to earn a Masters in Special Education from the University of Idaho. She loved teaching right up to her retirement in 2008.

Her 3 kids grew up bright, strong, safe and healthy.

She was very proud of them and the 5 grandkids and 3 great grandkids they created. 

On August 29th Chris Korbel's spirit passed from this world into the ether where all human spirit comes from and to which all human spirit eventually returns.

We live in a nation that has always produced heroes.

Some wear uniforms and fight fires or go to war,

Some wear scrubs and fight illness 

Some become teachers......

like Chris.

Roadboy's Travels © 2014

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