Kristin (Kris) E. Kirk loves creating and surrounding herself with beauty, which makes sense when you hear her past professions – beautician and flower arranger – and when you see her apartment! Her home is surrounded in animal prints, soft lighting, and just a little sparkle.
“I enjoy the moments of life. Every moment I’m here is a present,” says Kris, hinting that there is a lot more to her story.
Her parents, Neil and Janet Daniels, married before her dad left to serve in World War II. He became a B-17 pilot, flying 29 bombing missions over Germany. In the meantime, her mom worked as a “Rosie the Riveter”. On his return, they moved to Burbank, California where Kris was born and then her family moved to Denver. But the mile-high climate didn’t agree with her dad, who was then a United Airlines pilot, so the family headed to Los Altos, which “was just a little village then,” says Kris.
Kris married when she was just 18 and fresh out of high school. The marriage didn’t last – but she did discover a true love. “I went to Beauty College in Palo Alto and I was a natural!” says Kris. She was a hairdresser for 20 years and prided herself on pleasing her clients and listening to what they wanted. She even had her own salon in Palo Alto called House of Hair Styling.
Along the way she met and married her second husband, but their union was short-lived. He left before their son Jeffrey was born. She moved to Walnut Creek when a friend offered a home. “It was the late 1960s and he knew I was in a predicament,” says Kris. She pauses and says, “I’ve lived a real life, not a fairytale.” Her third husband lasted a lot longer and she was able to enjoy raising her child. Jeffrey now lives in Ohio with his wife, daughter, and stepdaughter. Kris is happy that she has been able to set up a college fund for her granddaughter.
Years of salon chemicals took their toll on Kris’s hands and she needed to change professions. Luckily, she discovered flower arranging and worked for Ah Sam, creating hundreds of arrangements. But life had another curveball in store.
After years of looking after others but not herself and catching fast-food meals on the run, Kris had a major stroke at just 59 years old. Her right arm was useless, and she had to relearn almost everything, but she laughs saying, “The physical therapist forced me to recover. She said, ‘You can swear all you want to!’ but she made me do the exercises. I promised God that I’d never eat another pizza.” That was 14 years ago, and it appears she has kept the promise regaining the use of her right arm and losing 100 pounds in 3 years.
Kris appreciates every day now and takes delight in the little things. She’s also quick to say how much she loves living at Sterling Court. The location makes it easy to walk downtown plus it’s close to her doctors. Kris loves the dining room and says the chef has a French flair and obviously “believes in people being healthy!” She also enjoys working out in the exercise room. Plus, her expert’s eye is impressed by the modern flower arrangements and the landscaping. She likes how people personalize their doors with decorations – hers has a zebra-print mini-wreath. She even compliments the cleaning staff!
To relax, Kris curls up by her window overlooking two sturdy oak trees and either reads a mystery or watches one on PBS. And when she’s feeling inspired, a trip to nearby Michaels craft store helps satisfy her need to create something beautiful.
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