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'Cherish your family': Mother of crash victim remembers her son as inspiration to community

Tristen Gage killed in crash on Wurzbach Parkway

SAN ANTONIO – The mother of a young church leader who died in a crash Friday wants people to use his memory of serving others as an example to live by.

Meleah Christensen said she raised Tristen Gage, 22, as a single mother. She said he was very mature for his age.

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“He helped take care of his brother and sister and nieces and nephews,” Christensen said. “You know, I had him at a young age, and he helped me grow up. He taught me things and I will never be able to repay him for that.”

She said even going through hard times, her son had a good head on his shoulders.

“We didn’t always live in the best neighborhood and there was a lot of challenges that was presented to him on a daily basis and he always came out on top,” Christensen said. “He always chose right.”

During a memorial dedication service at City Church International Sunday, Christensen saw the major impact her son had on people.

“He’s been through a lot in his life,” Christensen said. “We moved around the country quite a bit when I was in the military. Meeting people and everybody that came in contact with him, whether it be a church, in the community, at work at bill millers, just anywhere. The basketball court or school, he had such an impact on them.”

She said she has never had to worry about Gage.

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“He was very influential. Very positive and upbeat,” Christensen said. “You never knew if he was going through something. As a mother, you don’t know what kind of impact they will have on people, but you hope your wisdom as a parent will be embedded in him and that they will make the right decision. Tristen has always done that.”

Christensen said she is truly going to miss her baby boy. 

“Just his, ‘I love you mommas’ and his smile,” Christensen said through tears. “His hugs. Hearing his heartbeat. I will never be able to get those back. I just hope to be able to live like he lived.”

With the outpour of love and support from community members during the service and a candlelight vigil held Saturday night at the crash site in honor of Gage, Christensen said she hopes her son’s spirit inspires others to live as happily as they can. 

“Cherish your family,” Christensen said. “Your days are numbered, and you we don’t know how few they are numbered. If there is anything my son taught us, it would be just to remain positive. Always put a smile on your face.”


About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray

From the home of the Seminoles, Japhanie Gray grew up in the town of Osceola, Arkansas. She graduated as the Salutatorian of the Osceola Class of 2011. She attended Arkansas State University, where she participated in the National Association of Black Journalists and the Spanish Honor Society Sigma Delta Pi.