Christine Biggs was born at home in Athens in 1918, and is the oldest of 11 children. She had a 7th grade education, and didn’t finish high school because she had to stay home and help with the kids. Her dad farmed, grew cotton and corn, “and he used mules,” she told me. “I never left Athens,” she said. At the age of 15, she married Douglas Stewart, had a son, and then was divorced by the age of 18. “I don’t think you ever get over your first love,” she said. But Miss Christine is not the type to let anything get the best of her, and she did marry again, a good man by the name of J.B. Griggs. They had three children, and raised a grandson. Mr. Griggs died of pancreatic cancer, and Christine was a single mom for 17 years.
She worked several café jobs in order to support her family. She then married a third time, another good man, and Mr. Biggs died of cancer also only 13 months later. “I’ve been single a long time,” she said, “and I am going to stay that way.” She brags on her kids and talks about how well they treat her, and she is one of the bright spots at Athens Rehab. One staff member laughed as she referred to Miss Christine as a “hot tamale.” Miss Christine loves to dance to “Soul Train,” and you can see her do so on the Athens Rehab facebook page!
As we moved from her room to the pleasant activity room where we did the interview, she greeted residents along the way, and gave the “number 1” sign to a wheelchair bound Alabama fan. I found out that she worked for several years at the Council on Aging, as well as delivered papers, and she paid for her house “working like that.”
Her favorite colors? Pink and blue, which are the colors she wore for the interview. Her favorite President? “Ronald Reagan,” (although she did make it clear that she thought of him more as a “lesser evil,” and was too busy working to ever pay much attention to who was in the Oval Office.) Her favorite movie? “Cinderella, that’s a good story,” she added. She also rattled off the names of several soap operas that she used to watch, but said, “I don’t have time for that anymore.” So what has been keeping her so busy? For the first time in her life she has time to play games, and is learning how from the activities staff. She loves the staff, especially Sara Wallace, and said “They are so sweet, and there has never been a cross word said to me.” She then divulged the fact that she had even tried to escape when she first came to the facility, “but now I love it here and have met some of the best people.”
Her favorite food? “Catfish and hush puppies, and not everybody can make good hush puppies, including me,” she said. Her favorite scripture is “Trust in the Lord with all you heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” She was a member of Bethel Church of Christ for 30 years, and wishes she could still go.
Her advice to young people? “Go to church!” Good advice, from the “hot tamale” herself, Ms. Christine Biggs.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner