Nancy has been Tina’s special friend since their high school days together.
You and I have never met; however, during the past two years because of our e-mailings, I have realized my thoughts of you are true. My thoughts being what Tina had spoken to me regarding you over the past many years are, that you are, and have always been, a very compassionate, loving man whom Tina has loved dearly, with her whole heart. She has put her solid trust in you, and you are what has given her the inspiration to look forward to each new day.
Tina was a remarkable pre-teenager when we met; I believe it was in 1956 when we were both in sixth grade. I had never seen a “Chinese person up close,” as an eleven-year-old would say. I remember telling my mother about her after school the day we met. My mother was so pleased that I had met Tina and hoped we would always be close.
As I learned more about Tina and where she was from, I realized she had lived close by, maybe next door, to the man I took piano lessons from, Mr. Santucci. Little did I know, during the time I would be at his home, that I would meet his neighbor and know her for 55-plus years. I took piano lessons only for about two years because he insisted I had to participate in recitals and I was too shy to; so, with my parents’ approval, I quit. But Tina, as an accomplished pianist, amazed me. I remember going to her home and her playing the piano like I had never heard before. She “read” music and played so flawlessly. I have always loved piano music and whenever I hear it I think of her and my brother Richard. My brother took lessons, too. Richard quit also because he was more adept at “playing by ear,” which he still does occasionally. But Tina, as I mentioned, continued to play and did so with such joy.
The distance between where Tina lived in Henrietta, at 90 Clearview Drive (the next street over from where I live now), and where I lived then, on West Henrietta Road, was about five miles. I always felt close to Tina even though we only visited each other’s homes a few times. I always looked forward to seeing her at school and after school, and our phone calls. Going to Rush-Henrietta Central was the only place I had to see others my own age. I had only one neighbor, Mary DeWald, who lived about one-eighth of a mile away. I lived in the “country.” There were no other girls I was close to. In the 1960s new developments were built in Henrietta, but not anywhere near where I lived, so school was my only social life, and Tina was a huge part of it.
At one time, I had been dating a boy named Phil Tyler. Phil went to Monroe High School and had a part-time job working for my father; that is how we met. As is said, ‘it is a small world’ because when I told Tina about Phil, she told me she knew him. She had known him for years before she moved to Henrietta and assured me he was a ‘nice boy’ and was happy for me that I had met him also. Unfortunately, my relationship ended with Phil.
Tina excelled in all classes, and I did not, so we saw less of each other during our high school years. Fortunately, we have kept our contact with each other. We wrote many letters and heard each other’s “news” of our lives. Tina went on to college at Cornell University (Phil also graduated from Cornell). I went to work at Rochester Gas and Electric.
While Tina was at Cornell, she mentioned a wonderful friend she had. This young man’s name was Doug Cooper. Tina had expressed concern because he was not of Chinese descent and her parents probably would not approve of her choice. I know this part is important, but I cannot remember all the particulars surrounding this relationship, but I do remember Tina’s being horribly saddened to have to leave Doug and continue on with her life.
Marriages came, and we were both blessed with children.
Then, one afternoon, Tina phoned. She told me her devastating news…….she had been stricken with MS. I, knowing very little about MS, started reading all I could relating to that dreaded disease. I was devastated to know that my best friend had been given such a diagnosis. There was nothing I could say or do. No one deserves this or any other sickness that changes the course of their lives, especially Tina. Why? No answer could be given.
The next phone call from Tina was the news of her divorce. What else?
I was also going through divorce proceedings and was no help for Tina. I had a difficult time regarding my divorce, having to find a job, which was not easy, since I did not have a college background, and raise three young sons on my own income. My life went on. My children did very well. I am still single.
Divorces came, and our lives continued. It was not an easy course for either of us, especially Tina. However, Tina and I have kept in touch. There were several years that only Christmas cards gave us our “updates.”
Tina’s next phone call was the most exciting of all! She told me the wonderful news that Doug Cooper from Cornell University had “found” her! That made my day and many, many days.
Since that time, life for Tina has, from what I have been told, been bittersweet. She has the horrible disease and the love of her life. Doug is what has sustained Tina.
I have told Tina and Doug’s beautiful love story to so many friends. The story of Tina’s life could be a movie that would win awards; for such a heartening, uplifting, tear-jerker that would be remembered by all who see it.
We have not seen each other for several years. Our friendship has endured with our phone calls and e-mail. Memories and good thoughts have kept us the friends we are.
I love Tina. I always have, ever since I met the most beautiful little “Chinese girl” in sixth grade.
May God continue to be beside her with her loving husband, Doug, and sons.