The following letter, 'To His Grandparents' was written
by Kristin in the Summer of 2005. A little dated, now, but full of
fun sentiments and pleasant details!
Please accept my most sincere and humble apologies about our not meeting in person. Life can be somewhat unsettled between myself, my jobs, and my family. I feel most confident and able to express myself completely in writing. Allow me to begin with my family and background. I still live at home with my parents, at the home they built in 1979. My dad grew up on the Battestella family farm on Grove road in Vineland. My grandfather Deacon’s (nicknamed so for missing a fire call while at church!) family came to New Jersey from Venice, Italy after the turn of the century. We have several cousins in the area who’s name was properly spelled at immigration-Battistella, and our relatives in Italy maintain a family carpentry business.
I’ve been able to trace the Battestella line all the way back to the Most Serene Republic of Venice, where my ancestors served as Royal Consulates. My grandmother’s lineage, however, is somewhat skeptical. Early on the family denied their Cherokee heritage, left the reservation in Oklahoma, and somehow became English! We still have many relatives in the south, mainly Alabama, including the Reverend James Rushing, a prominent Baptist minister. My father was raised Baptist, but my mother was raised Catholic. She grew up on Dutch Mill Road with her 5 sisters and lone brother. All attended Delsea High School, as did me and my sister, for our house is actually across the county line in Franklin Township. My grandmother gave me the Clouse family tree, and it dates back to Sicily and Naples.
My parents met and married in 1973. My father,
a decorated Green Beret, just returned from his tour in Vietnam and attended
Glassboro State College, as it was know then. My sister Jaime was
born on February 5th, 1976, and I followed on February 7th, 1981.
I was to be named after Laura Leigh on General Hospital, but instead was
named Kristin after the Who Shot JR? and Dallas fame. My mother attended
Willow Grove and Malaga United Methodist Church with our cousins, and converted
while she was pregnant with me. To this day members of the church
joke that I ‘got it in the womb’.
My sister and I attended Lake and Main Road Schools, and rode on fire trucks with my grandfather and uncle, both New Jersey Fire Wardens, while my father worked in construction. We went through a Dalmatian, four Labradors, a Collie, a slew of cats and fish, a Bicon Frise, and now we have another Dalmation. Mom was very active in the PTA, and Dad served as the Sunday School Superintendent at Willow Grove. We attended Willow Grove during the year and Malaga Camp in the summer until 1992, when my parents became disenchanted with the church and left.
I was always sick as a child. From asthma and allergies to pneumonia, chicken pox, and a collapsed lung! First I played the guitar, then the piano, then the clarinet, but I gave up music when I discovered I could not play like Benny Goodman. With my doctor’s encouragement, I took my new strength to softball, where I excelled for two years. I out grew the sport quickly and instead turned to my new passion, ice hockey. There were no girl’s teams in the area so for five years I played in the boys league based in Washington Township. It was sometimes a difficult and isolating experience, but my spiritual background gave me the strength needed to excel.
Despite hockey monopolizing my time, I sewed costumes
and went through a Civil War Re-enactor phase. I maintained an a/b
average while in the Delsea school system. I took mostly honors classes
and liked every class but math. I enjoyed working in the broadcasting
lab and am a classic movie buff. I had always been a creative child,
and my excellence in English, grammar, and literature helped me develop
as a writer. I have been writing short stories, poetry, plays, and
novels since I was 10 years old and last year had a book about my dog published
on the internet.
In 1999 I joined a girl’s traveling hockey team near West Chester. I was very privileged to attend the Can-Am Games in Lake Placid, NY and various other tournaments. I graduated number 22 in my class and joined a women’s hockey team in Aston, PA. We played against Princeton University, and they were impressed enough to offer me a partial scholarship. I was accepted to the school with the intent to major in theology and continue to the Princeton Theological Seminary, but the schedule and financial burden were too great so I stayed home with my family.
My sister had to daughters Ashli Lyn in 1997 and Alysa Lee in 1998. While my sister and future brother-in-law worked and went to school, I cared for my young nieces. I attended the First Vineland Baptist Church with my grandmother, where I became a Sunday School teacher for the first time. I did not agree with the Baptist vision, however, and returned to Willow Grove. I felt completely at home and became a Sunday School teacher, Youth Leader, and was on several church committees. I also began coaching and instructing other female hockey players and teams and attended several instruction and wellness seminars at West Chester University.
Things took a turn for the worse In 2002.
After receiving awards for perfect attendance and service in hockey, I
was suddenly struck down with a slew of odd injuries and was unable to
play. I had a very serious broken collarbone in 1996 and several
concussions throughout my nine year hockey career but no doctors
could explain what had befallen me. I don’t know how many doctors
I went through, each with a different diagnosis; Lupus, MS, Alzheimer’s,
Mono, HIV, Chronic Fatigue! My aunt worked for a Lyme’s Disease specialist,
and despite my prior tests for Lyme being negative I made an appointment.
Doctor DeMarco did a specialized test and discovered I have two separate Lyme infections that can be dated back to at least 1999. I was put on a strict diet and regime of antibiotics, vitamins, and routine doctor visits. I thought 2002 was the worse year of my life, but it couldn’t compare to 2003. Besides the death of one of the Bee Gees, my favorite group; the Columbia explosion, my childhood fantasy was to be an astronaut; the deaths of several distant relatives and my beloved Bichon Frise; my parents separated on their 30th wedding anniversary.
I’ve always been a daddy’s girl and the estrangement from my father was unbearable. Even when I was severely ill with Lyme, I was able to write, but my muse abandoned me in my time of need. I was able to cope somehow by going church, until I got a job at Spring Oak Assisted Living. After working there for the summer, I began work at Sears. The genius of God’s mastermind was at work, for this is when I met Jason!
2004 was all the sweeter after my disastrous 2 years.
I saved my money and was able to purchase a car on my own. Fittingly
a 2002 Protege that I should wash more often then I do. My parents reunited,
and despite my leaving Sears, I got a great job writing for The Reminder.
Currently I write personally-with the intend to be a best selling author
and write professionally with The Reminder, but I recently left my humble
job at Senior Care of Galloway to work full time at Borders. After
I finish working on my web pages, my next goal is to return to church and
play hockey again. Someday I would like to return to school and become
For now I enjoy partaking in the growth of my nieces and working to help others. Now that you know more about me I am eager to learn all about your lives as well. I thank you for reading and hope to meet you soon.