Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Microstory 1133: Carol Gelen

Carol English was raised in a very poor family, which lived in southeastern Missouri, starting in 1950. Her parents wanted the best for her, and sacrificed their own happiness so that she could have everything she needed to succeed. They both started saving—not for their own college fund—but hers, when they were still in high school, even though she was years from being born. They always knew they wanted a child, but after marrying at age seventeen, decided to wait until they were financially stable. Carol was the first in her bloodline to get a higher education. Three Rivers was a recently founded community college, so she wasn’t exactly set for life, but it gave her the tools she needed to start a decent career. After receiving an associate’s degree in pre-dental hygiene, she took out a loan so she could go through Missouri Southern State University’s dental hygiene program. A year into her first job, Carol received news of her mother’s mother’s decline in health. She decided to move out to Topeka, Kansas to help her parents take care of her grandmother, because nothing was really tying her down in Williamsville. She quickly found herself a new job, and a future husband in her first patient, Randall Gelen. She was making pretty good money, but much of it had to go back to her family. Well, she didn’t necessarily have to give out all this money, but she felt it was the least she could do after all the support she received from them growing up. At some point, she was sending regular checks to a second cousin that she had never even met, and never asking for repayment. Randall had his own family issues, so they were living pretty modestly when an opportunity knocked on their door. They had never outright decided to not have children, but that didn’t seem to be the path they were on. But a child had recently lost both of her parents to tragedy, and needed some stability. Carol never questioned why the two of them were sought out to care for a foster child, when they weren’t even licensed. It was another three months before they were approved to become foster parents in the first place. Still, this was a gift, and they did not take it for granted. Carol was raised to be Christian, but didn’t care much for the church, yet she couldn’t help but wonder if there was a God out there, planning all this for him. Leona’s arrival seemed like fate. Or maybe, if Carol didn’t attribute it to some higher power, she wouldn’t be able to justify her involvement at all. Neither of them had any experience with children, and they had no idea whether any of this was going to work out. Fortunately, things turned out great. They fell in love with Leona, and ended up adopting her into their forever family.

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