My Life Has Been Blessed
Corrie Lynne Player
As the oldest of five, I had the perfect childhood for somebody who wanted to be a writer—a homestead at Kenny Lake, in the wilderness of Alaska.
My parents and the crew daddy had flown with during WWII planned to form a modern wagon train to traverse the Alcan highway that opened to civilian traffic in May 1947. But when the time came to head north, they went alone, because everybody else chickened out.
Our one room log cabin had a sod roof and dirt floor. It was heated by a stove that daddy made from a 50-gallon steel drum. Daddy built most of our furniture, as well as the cabin, salvaging windows and metal from the burned ruins of a roadhouse and logs from a barn that was built at the beginning of the 20th Century.
Mama scrubbed our clothes on a wash board and baked bread every day. Our refrigerator was a pit dug into the permafrost outside the back door, with an insulated lid. During the winter, we hung meat in a three-sided garage. We lived pretty much as people did in the early 19th century—except we had a jeep.
The cabin was eventually converted into a sturdy three bedroom log house, encircled by barley fields and live stock. Kenny Lake became a thriving community. Daddy donated land and materials for the first school house—one room for 12 students in eight grades. He taught the first year (because the teacher sent by the state of Alaska took one look at the living conditions and quit) and was the unofficial mayor.
We moved to Anchorage just before I started high school. Daddy, who had flown B-17s during WWII, joined the Alaska Air National Guard and invested in real estate and construction. He was killed in a plane crash just after my 13th birthday, so Mama worked at the Guard as a clerk to support us.
My Alaskan background (and junior college grades) helped me transfer to Stanford University where I met my eternal sweetheart, Gary. He wanted to live on a mountain in Alaska and I yearned for the big city. We compromised on the suburbs in Anchorage where seven of our nine children were born.
Deciding where we lived was a minor decision compared to just what kind of family we wanted to build. We decided early on that we wanted to follow my parents example of serving and caring for others, especially disadvantaged children.
We adopted three of our nine children through the foster care system in two states, and we ran a special needs foster home for more than three decades. While we don’t actively take in children anymore, we continue to support foster/adopt families on a state, regional and national level through membership in the National Foster Parents Association (NFPA).
The mantra of our marriage is “better together than separately.” We’ve been business partners for 30 of our more than 50 years together. He’s the scientist and I’m the CEO—an arrangement that suits us both.
When people learn about our nine children and 42 grandchildren, they often exclaim, “God bless you!” and we agree, “He certainly has.”
I’m trying hard to focus on things that matter most and rely more completely on Heavenly Father. He knows what I need and what’s best for me. I’ve learned that being upset about situations, no matter how difficult, accomplishes absolutely nothing. While I can’t control events around me, I can manage my own emotions and reactions.
The title of my column, Heaven Help Us, summarizes my basic philosophy of life—a philosophy I encourage everyone to share.
Please share your blessings with me by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.