Friday, March 8, 2013

Happy Birthday, Kris

36 years ago, my life changed - I grew up really fast.  36 years ago I gave birth to a baby girl 8 weeks prematurely.  The delivery room staff took her away immediately, and I was told that she was being transferred to Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh.  I didn't get to hold her, and I didn't get to see her until the ambulance staff brought her into my room.  She was dressed in a little silver "space suit" and her entire face was covered with the ventilator mask.  We named her quickly, I felt she had to have a name before she left.  Reality slapped me in the face that day as I faced the possibility that my baby girl might not come home.  But she did come home 13 days later.  From the time she was in grade school, she told us she wanted to become an animal doctor.  And, she worked tirelessly toward that end.  In high school, she earned her Girl Scout award  and designed and printed coloring books for children who were new puppy owners.  It is still used today at the clinic where she works.  She did wilderness camping, and made trips to Canada as part of the Canoe Trails organization.  And in preparation for applying to veterinary schools, she began working at Kaufman's Kennel. She graduated top in her high school class.  While in college, she moved into Dr. Kaufman's clinic and began working as a veterinary technician.   She graduated from college with highest honors, and was accepted to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine on her first application.

While at Penn, she visited the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia weekly with her Newfoundland, Jesse. Here they are in the Halloween costumes I made for them to wear on one of their visits.  Jesse doesn't look thrilled.  She worked with a mobile veterinary  program that spayed and neutered animals on Native American reservations. Veterinary school was difficult, as was being away from home. Many times had we said we're coming to get you, I think she would have left.  But as much as we wanted to protect her, we had to stay away.  She graduated with high honors.

Like a precious gem, Kris has had many facets.  She manages to balance her hours at work with her love of her family.  She spends much of her day off at the YMCA with her kids (at ages 5 and 2, they both can swim). In her life, she went comfortably from her camping clothes to a beautiful gown.  She will leave her job and stop to care for an elderly woman's cats before coming home to her kids.  And she does it all with ease and grace.  I have always admired her determination.  She has faced all the obstacles in her way head on and didn't quit until she had achieved her goals.

 Happy Birthday, Kristin.  You will always be one of my heroes.

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