Excerpt from Ting and I: A Memoir...
My best friend, extending all the way back to 1957, Phil Nodhturft, has chosen to pay tribute to me in this book. I am deeply touched:
The year was 1957. I can’t believe that fifty-four years have passed since the time Doug and I first became friends. Some people come into your life and exit almost as quickly as they entered.
Not so with Douglas Winslow Cooper.
We met at Walden High School when my family moved from New York City. Walden is a quiet little village nestled snugly in the heart of Orange County in the Hudson Valley region of New York State, about 70 miles north of New York City.
Doug and I had absolutely nothing in common. He was exceptionally brilliant and I was the average good-looking jock. He enjoyed taking classes like chemistry, physics and calculus. I, on the other hand, relished in meeting girls in Mrs. Gridley’s Home Economics class and looked forward to playing football after a strenuous day of academics.
Doug also played on the football team, and this kid who was a year younger than I intrigued me. As it turned out, we had a lot more in common than not. We both came from large families. Each of our families had five children. Coincidentally, we were the eldest of our siblings and we each had only one sister. We enjoyed many of the same interests, and as we matured, those interests provided many hours of enjoyment, as we sat around the dinner table recounting the good times we shared.
I would have to say that the qualities that endeared Doug to me were his sense of honesty and loyalty. Throughout the years of our friendship I have never once doubted Doug’s motives. Although it might sound like a cliché, “Doug’s word is his bond,” and that, in my judgment, shows the measure of this man.
Another quality I would like to add is the word “commitment.” It is this quality that truly sets Doug apart from many other people I know. Let me explain. Doug is married to his lifelong “soul mate,” Tina. Tina and Doug met when they were both undergraduate students at Cornell University. At that time, Doug was taking mathematics and chemistry, majoring in physics. Clearly, not the usual course load, but as I’ve mentioned, Doug is not your usual “run of the mill” student. Several months after Doug and Tina began dating, we met for dinner and Doug told me that he had decided to add the study of Chinese to his already demanding course load. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and inquired, “Why would you add such a strenuous language to your already very heavy schedule?” Doug’s response was very matter of fact. He said that he had met Tina, who was Chinese, and felt continuing on in the study of Chinese was the least he could do for the “girl of his dreams.” Well, how could anyone argue with that logic?
There was only one small impediment to Doug’s plan. It’s called “in-laws,” or at least “future in-laws.” Tina’s parents would not consider Doug as a worthy marital partner. So, being a dutiful daughter, Tina acquiesced and their relationship faltered for a while: in fact, each married someone else. As fate would have it, their respective marriages were apparently not as blissful as they had hoped, and each of them eventually divorced.
Several years passed before Doug and Tina had the opportunity to rekindle their Cornell relationship. Only this time the parental objections were overcome by the true feelings Doug and Tina shared for each other. Providence has a way of searching out the truth; and in the case of Doug and Tina, the simple truth was that they loved each other very dearly. Doug and Tina were married. Their marital vows, “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part,” proved to be prophetic.
Throughout their married life, no one could ever doubt their love for each other. To this day I remain in complete awe of my old high school friend. Unfortunately, Tina has developed multiple sclerosis and is totally dependent upon others for her care. Doug’s unwavering love and support for his Tina are demonstrated with every passing day. Many lesser mortals would follow the advice of health care professionals, to put Tina in a nursing home or a hospice, but not my friend Doug. He made a commitment on their wedding day–and that commitment is one Doug intends to keep. His entire life revolves around caring for and watching over his beloved wife, Tina.
My wife, Virginia, and I have often talked about Doug and Tina with each other. We have the utmost respect for Doug and the manner in which he has conducted his life. I feel blessed to be counted as a friend of Douglas Winslow Cooper.
The Lord has made it possible for two loving soul-mates to be united forever in the bonds of holy matrimony. Being the man that he is, Doug will continue to care for his wife, in their home, and on his terms. In the end, our Creator will judge us all. I have no doubt that Doug’s relationship with Tina and the commitment he has demonstrated toward her will provide them both with everlasting peace. Jesus has declared, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
When their time comes to a close on this earth, they will forever be reunited under the watchful eye of our God. Until then, Doug and Tina’s special relationship will continue to be an inspiration for all who believe in the power of love.
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