Thanks to a faithful reader, David (love that name), who asked how I met the Sainted Patient Wife in a previous comments section. I gave him the really short version; let me tell you the rest of the story, as the late Paul Harvey would say.
Back in June of 1999, forty-seven years old, I had been divorced almost nine years, and had quit the bar scene which I had tried for a few years; met a lot of ladies there, but nothing long term worked out. I was completely burned out on it. Used to go to church faithfully for many years before the "backsliding" foray into the aforementioned bar scene. Met some nice people at church, too. I still hadn't met that "special" one.
So I received in the mail a "catalog" which offered a multitude of catalogs and magazines one could send off for offering a wide range of different products and services. I sent for a magazine that offered contact information on how to meet various single ladies from Russia and Asia (now there's an extremely different span of cultures.) It was a pen pal service, however, some people refer to it as "mail order brides." That term is very inaccurate since I did not pick Sainted Patient Wife out of a catalog, and then have here "mailed" or shipped to the United States from the Philippines (the postage would have been astronomical, not that Sainted Patient Wife weighs that much), but still that is some people's perception of the process.
The brochure from the pen pal company arrived, and I looked at some of the bios and photos of the ladies interested in meeting someone for a pen pal relationship which could develop into something more. Of course, if you wanted to contact these ladies who you might be interested in, you had to purchase the magazine from the company; they are running a business.
When my magazine with the contact information of literally hundreds of ladies arrived, I looked through it and wrote to seven different ladies. Two from Russian, and four from the Philippines, and one who I thought was from Taiwan.The one I thought was from Taiwan was actually a lady that was an OCW (Overseas Contract Worker) from the Philippines, but her picture looked as if she had Chinese features to me. (Overseas Contract Workers are now called OFW, Overseas Filipino Workers, and there are over 11 million Filipinos working overseas now.) On my list I marked two stars by the pictures of those that I hoped really would respond to my letters. I only had two people on my list of seven that had two stars.
A few weeks after writing my letters, I received two letters from the Russian ladies I had written. Seemed to be very nice women, but I really felt no connection, and their English was not very good; certainly better than my Russian, however. Not long after I received my first two letters, I got a phone call one Sunday night around midnight. It was from one of the Filipino ladies I had written to, and this lady was working as an OCW in Singapore. She was calling from her place of employment in Singapore, and had a very bubbly personality; we carried on a conversation for about a half hour, and we were to call each other back. I felt we had made some kind of an initial connection.
A few days after the call from Singapore, I received a letter from the lady working in Taiwan who I had thought was a Chinese lady. After reading the letter, in which she had enclosed some more photos, I found out she was Filipino and found out what OCW meant. The reason she looked Chinese to me is that her father's side of the family is of Chinese descent. I discovered that many people in the Philippines are of Chinese heritage. Of course, you know that this is the future Sainted Patient Wife that has written me; one of the "two star" ladies that I had really hoped would respond. The photo above is the first photo I saw of Melinda, actually Maria Melinda (she would always write her name on her return address as Ma. Melinda—Bonehead me thought Ma. stood for Madame and thought Filipinos must be extremely formal people when sending correspondence, had no idea it stood for Maria.)
I felt a strong connection with Melinda through her letters, and I soon received a couple more, and of course wrote her back as soon as I received one from her. It really made me feel good reading her letters, written in perfect English, and many times several pages in length. She would have to write the letters in the very early morning hours when the elderly lady she cared for that had Alzheimer's disease was asleep. Melinda would sleep on a mat by the ladies bed so she would be available to help her at any time. She received no days off which was a violation of her contract, but if she complained then she would be sent back to the Philippines and replaced with another Filipino. Then there would be no money to send back to her family, so to complain was not an option. In addition to caring for the elderly lady, she also took care of five other people in the household doing all the cooking and cleaning and laundry.
But then a month went by, a whole month, and suddenly no more letters. What happened? Why no more correspondence? I had no telephone number I could contact her with! I just couldn't understand why she was not writing anymore. It really disappointed me.
CLICK HERE FOR PART TWO OF THIS STORY!