Thursday, February 14, 2013


Our nurse Kate Murphy said about Tina that some people are put on this Earth to bring out the best in others. Tina does that.

Below are several excerpts on this subject, taken from the tributes section at the end of the book.

Our first nurse, Terry Bush, writes:

Tina received compassion from all around her –- staff, friends, family –- but she gave back so much more. Tina demonstrated her compassion for each person in her smiles, her listening ear, and in her obvious enjoyment of one’s company.
My getting to know Tina is one of the greatest blessings of my life. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity given to me to be part of Tina and Doug’s lives and to have them be part of mine.

From our younger son, Phil:

A day spent in my mother’s shoes would teach me to live life graciously and without bitterness. In the face of tremendous personal losses, she remains thankful for what she has: a loving husband and sons, a dog that keeps her husband in shape, and a new flat-screen HDTV. Rarely feeling sorry for herself or seeking sympathy from others, she treats those around her with kindness. She politely thanks the nurses for every task they do, whether it is administering her afternoon medication or changing the channel to Oprah promptly at 4:00. Asking after the nurses’ families, she treats their problems like her own.

Our friend Wendy Garfein:

She lives a daily life today which I know of no other person could easily bear, but which brings her happiness and love, knowing she can still share in her husband’s and children’s lives. For her husband and children, her choice to live today has given them as much or more. Her daily courage has been an inspiration to me, her compassion even now for others’ suffering always amazes me, and I continue to find her a woman of great integrity and abounding love for others.

Our longest-serving staff member, Barbara George, whose care for her handicapped son is an inspiration to us, writes:

I admire her strength, concern for others, and love and gratitude to her devoted husband, Doug, ‘the absolute love of her life,’ who took on the challenge of her disease with lots of love and a level head, as to how to care for Tina and create a world for her within her home. I have much admiration and respect for each of them, as they love and care for each other, each worrying more about the other than about himself.

Our longest-serving nurse, first among equals, Diane Beggin:

I still find it remarkable, as I did long ago, that Tina remains so psychologically and emotionally vital and strong despite everything she cannot do or cannot experience. Through her I believe she taught me how to deal with my personal inabilities and disabilities… to accept myself. And I thought I was the strong one–her nurse. In retrospect, my patient has become my healer.

Nurse Audrey Pottinger:

It’s such a pleasure to witness the ongoing loving relationship between her and her spouse. For them every day is Valentine’s Day. Upon meeting the Coopers, my older son remarked that he hopes to find someone with whom he could share such a loving relationship. I pray he does.
Instead of being bitter, Tina chooses to love, to care and to enjoy the life she has. It’s a choice all should emulate. It’s a choice I am learning to make.

Tina is not only the light of my life, she shines on others’ lives, too, as nurse Mary Wilkinson writes:

... it is always wonderful to see Tina smile. She smiles in the face of tragedy. And it can make anyone forget just how tragic the situation really is. I am deeply sorry for what MS has done to her physically. But it has never damaged her amazing spirit. Tina is truly an amazing, wonderful person and I am grateful and honored to be a part of her life. God keep her safe and warm. She is a living angel.

Angel? She has some of her mother’s independence. At about the same age, five or six, when Tina refused to smile for the camera, she was told by her mother sternly, not to touch the baby’s (Gene’s) bottles, especially the nipples, which had just been sterilized. Humph! She gave several of them good, hard squeezes. Her mother caught her in the act. I maintain that this is the last time she did anything bad. At Cornell, I called her “Angel,” but she asked me not to, as she felt she did not deserve the title. Here we disagree.

Angel or not, she is a blessing to the lives of those who know her.

Frost wrote, about Eve,

Never again would birds’ song be the same.

And to do that to birds was why she came.

Tina has changed our worlds, too.

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