The story of Christina Roberts
At Dayton Place assisted living, the light shines through the big bay windows on Christine Roberts. A 4-foot-9-inch, 70-year-old lady with perfectly styled grey hair pinned back into a bun. One would assume that she is small, helpless, quiet old lady but that could not be farther from the truth.
Even at 70 Roberts or “yaya.” As she prefers to be called, has more heart, energy and spirit than people half her age. She was born in Cairo, Egypt, and lived there until the age of 16, then moved to Libya and lived there until she moved to the U.S. in her 30’s. Spending every summer in Cyprus and travelling all over Europe and the Middle East, she has experienced much of the world that most people could only dream about.
Speaking five different languages: Spanish, English, Italian, Greek and French-has allowed her to connect with a variety of individuals, which has come in handy working as the receptionist at Dayton Place in Denver. She wanted to be an executive secretary when she grew up. Roberts says she has accomplished her dream. “I always wanted to be an executive assistant and even though that’s not ‘technically’ what I am doing right now I believe I have accomplished what I wanted to do.” After taking a sip of her tea she adds, “I started my own business when I was 17, it was a hair salon and while I loved that, I couldn’t be happier where I am right now, it’s where I am supposed to be.”
All throughout the day people stop and wave to her as they walk by the reception area and she in return smiles and blows them a kiss. “That’s who she is,” says Kimberly Johnson a care giver at Dayton Place. “She never complains, she always puts other people’s problems before her own and that’s what makes her such a special individual.” Johnson adds “without her we would be lost, she makes you feel as if though you are the most important person in the word.”
Roberts is not only the receptionist, she is whatever they need her to be. Whether it’s setting up the food in the dining hall, fixing a broken lamp, sitting with a patient when they are sick and singing their favorite song or sitting and holding the hand of a dying patient. She does it all and that is why she is so loved and respected.
She lives her life for her family, and that includes the people she works with. She treats most families of the participants at Dayton Place as if they are her own flesh and blood. She also shows her love though her cooking. No matter how many hours she works or who she has to take care of she is always making food for people and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love to cook it makes me feel as if though I am making a difference in someone’s life through my food. That’s how I grew up always cooking and that is something I want to pass on to my loved ones. It’s the best way to show that you care.”
It’s obvious she cares about anybody in her life and that couldn’t be more obvious when she is around her 4-year-old great granddaughter Arianna. When Arianna walks into the room it’s as if a light switch was flipped and even a stranger can tell how much Roberts loves her. “She is teaching her Greek and teaching her different songs in different languages,” says Robert’s daughter and Arianna’s mother Amnereta Roberts. “Arianna loves to sit in the kitchen with her when she is cooking and they talk in Greek, dance and sing, I swear sometime I think she loves to be with her ‘yaya’ more than me.”
As sweet and compassionate as she is she is someone you don’t want to challenge on something she knows is right or disrespect her or anyone she loves. “I once had a boyfriend who towered over my mother and me for that matter,” Amnereta says “but when he was rude to the both of us she got up in his face told him off in Greek and I never saw him again.” Amnereta adds “my mother doesn’t take any crap from anyone and she tells it like it is no matter whom she’s talking to or their size.”
That is true for her marriage as well, she met her husband when she was 16 years old. He was her neighbor while she was living in Egypt. It was a true fairy tale proposal with Erik Roberts standing outside her bedroom window professing how much he loved and wanted to be with Robert’s and how much her wanted to marry her. She however wouldn’t accept his proposal until he met and asked for her hand in marriage from her father. When he did, they got married and started a family after they moved to Libya. It didn’t end happily ever after though.
Because of Erik’s job they moved all over the country always meeting different business partners that lefts Robert’s to entertain and cook for all with every dinner party they had. Erik turned out to be an abusive husband emotionally and cheated on Roberts with multiple women. “I didn’t let it get me down,” she says “with everything I went through with him it made me who I am and in a way I owe him a lot. I know it sounds strange, that I owe someone who made me miserable. Because of the way he treated me it made me a stronger person and it made me realize that I had so much love to give and it was all being wasted on a man who didn’t deserve my love.” Something good did come out her marriage, her three daughters, whom she says have been the greatest thing she has done with her life. “I am so very proud of my children and my grandchildren; they have truly made my life worth living.”
If there is one thing Robert’s wants to leave people with when she dies it’s that even though she is a simple person, she was someone who loved people with no regrets, could make anybody laugh, was kind and didn’t let the tough things in her life get her down. If anything they made her stronger and gave her stories to tell everybody. “So long as people know how much I loved them and if I was able to give them just a little bit of joy in their life, then my life has been worthwhile.”