Mapes’ strong heart and iron will

Christine Mapes has a story unlike no other teacher at East Grand Rapids. She currently teaches History classes, most notably AP US History. Mapes’ unique situation began around five years ago when her son was deployed.

“My second son was deployed to Afghanistan, which was actually one of the longest six months of my life,” Mapes said. “Sometimes I would know he was okay as I could communicate with him through Facebook, and other times because of his assignment there, I didn’t know, so I was very happy when he came back safe and sound.”

Shortly after, her situation developed in an emotional way.

“About two months later, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer,” Mapes said.

The diagnosis caused a large shift in her life for the following years.

“I was the only sibling and only child here,” Mapes said, “so I had to take on some bigger responsibilities in helping to manage her care.”

Even with the diagnosis, Mapes looked on the brighter side.

“She had ups and downs, and some times were tougher than others, but they were actually very good times,” Mapes said. “We got to spend a lot of time together, which looking back I appreciate greatly.”

In the wake of her mother’s death, Mapes realized what peace came out of it.

“She passed away, and it was a good death,” Mapes said. “She got to pass away at home, she got to pass away in peace, to be with family and friends, and it was very good.”

After this change in her life, another soon came when her sister was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease nine months later.

“I did everything I could in terms of going there every two to three weeks to try and help,” Mapes said, regarding her travel to Evanston and how she was not the primary caregiver. The nature of ALS also led to complications in her care. “I could do more when her symptoms were not as severe and now you need much more skill to care than we can provide.”

Within the sadness and darkness of these unfortunate turns in life, Mapes found a new perspective.

“It’s made me more appreciative of small parts of my life, especially the people in my life,” Mapes said. “It’s also made it that a lot of issues and patience that drive people insane don’t bother me as much, because to me it’s not as important.”

Mapes continues to work hard and be a pillar of our community.

“One or two setbacks aren’t life-threatening and you have the opportunity to come back and try and change them, and so it’s really given me a unique perspective in that way,” Mapes said. “I’ve said this for four years now that I’m very appreciative of all the patience and support from the students, staff, and administration that I have had to go through all this.”

In the end, Mapes’ outlook can give us all great advice for life.

“I think you have to appreciate each day, appreciate the people in your life, know what you can control and what you can’t, and just do your best, and realize that sometimes working hard and doing the best that you can may not always change the outcome, but that it is still worthwhile,” Mapes said.