Monday, December 17, 2012

TING AND I, Second Marriage for Both


When Tina and her husband, K, split up, they divided their assets and they divided the children: Ted (9) stayed with his father; Phil (2) went with his mother. I had expected both boys to come with Tina, but it was felt that Ted was more attached to K and that K would lose too much in losing both sons. There is no good way to break up a family, and Tina and Ted suffered from being apart. Tina was greatly relieved to get out of that marriage and be my wife. Ted was an innocent bystander. I hoped Phil would gain from the change. I felt K had it coming to him for treating Tina poorly.


Tina and Phil spent much of 1983 at the rural home of my mother and sister. It was an hour’s drive from my workplace, IBM’s T. J. Watson, Jr., Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY, so I could easily join them every weekend, as I had during that summer, when I traveled the 200 miles from Boston to do so.

My sister, Diana, recalls (in “Tributes”):

Tina came to live with us in Rosendale with her two-year-old son, Philip. It was a great time –on weekends Doug would come to see Tina and Phil, and we’d all have a mini-party. Tina was a joy to have around, even though she tried to work too hard–for instance, by taking a toothbrush to the corners of the kitchen floor to clean them. Mom stopped her by crying and explaining that we didn’t need things that clean.
Tina had multiple sclerosis. She was dear to us. My mother said she loved her and couldn’t wait until Doug and Tina married

Mom’s home was definitely country, twenty-plus acres of land, a barn, a pond, one or two St. Bernards, some cats. Phil thrived. I can picture him in their glassed-in room, the “greenhouse,” scooting around the dining table, riding a little ice cream truck while we cheered him on and timed his laps. Tina bonded with Mom and Diana. It was a very good situation in some ways.

Unfortunately, Papa, Michael J. Cooper, had committed suicide two years earlier by hanging himself in the basement. Even though Tina’s coming to live with them helped a lot, the memories of his suicide made the Rosendale home unpleasant for Mom and Diana, and in 1984 they moved to Tucson, to be near my brother Nick and his wife.

When my mother’s house was sold, Tina moved to Bedford Hills, renting a room in a neighbor’s apartment above mine. Heavenly.

The neighbor was going through her own divorce and had two children, one younger than Phil and one older. Phil got along well with both.


On June 2, 1984, a month after her divorce became final, and 20 years after we had so sadly separated at Cornell, Tina and I were married by a Justice of the Peace in the living room of my Bedford Mews condominium. Her friends from Cornell, Judy and Deanne, were there with their husbands, Matt and Jerry, her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Su, attended, as did my mother and Tina’s brother, Gene, and his wife Christy. A photograph on our wall shows Tina and me and our parents smiling happily. The parents had come to approve of this marriage. Her father said, “Love conquers all.” Quite apt.

At the wedding, Tina and I each read a poem to the other. Tina read Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem that starts, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” It continues to a climactic ending:

…. I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears of all my life! and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death

I read to her John Donne’s “Valediction Forbidding Mourning,” the final lines of which are

Thy firmness makes my circle just,

And makes me end where I begun.

We were joyous about being married, serious about what it implied. That day, one of Tina’s friends asked about Ted, which made Tina cry.

This time, she got a honeymoon, slightly delayed. I had a weeklong technical conference scheduled for Paris toward the end of the summer. We made it our honeymoon and enjoyed it immensely. During our absence, Diana cared for Phil, a real blessing.

Our wedding rings are inscribed, “A dream come true.”

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