Continuing with how I met The Sainted Patient Wife, my previous blog ended with me wondering why after a month of correspondence from Maria Melinda, the letters abruptly halted. Could not call her; there was no number to call. Her employer in Taipei City, Taiwan, did not allow her to make or receive any calls from their home. (Photo below is one that Melinda sent to me in her first letter! I had the photo enlarged, framed it, and always kept it on my desk at work.)
Had something happened to her? Had she lost interest and maybe writing another pen pal she is more interested in? Being a guy and a Bonehead (or maybe those two things just naturally go together), I was not (and still not) capable of comprehending the inner workings of the female mind to understand what had happened. But I was disheartened; looks like another opportunity for love had passed me by.
Three weeks passed by. Still no letters, and I had been averaging at least two letters a week from her. Giving up hope, I retreated into my little world of just going to work, not going out anywhere except to do necessary shopping, and playing video games on my Playstation 2. Pretty pathetic, huh? When you give up all hope the world becomes a dark and lonely place.
Drove home from my job at AT&T in Springfield, Illinois, down 55 South and took the Pawnee/Auburn exit on Route 104 as I had done hundreds of times before. Walked up to my front porch, and saw the mailbox was stuffed. What was this?!? Enclosed were six letters from Taiwan, all with different postdates on them! I tore open the letters and discovered that Melinda had been writing me all along. In her letters she was wondering why I had not been writing back but she optimistically kept on corresponding hoping the mail from Taiwan was delayed as sometimes happens there. Quickly I wrote a letter back telling her I just received all her letters on the same day. I was so excited and happy! That is what happens when you are in love (yeah, I am getting all mushy on you now.)
We exchanged letters throughout the summer, and the cool crisp air of autumn was just starting to hit Auburn and central Illinois. I knew in my heart that I was in love, and that I had met that “special one". My co-workers had to endure my endless chatter about Melinda (they were used to the ongoing banter between fellow co-worker and partner-in-crime “J” (I will spare him and not use his full name here) and myself. I am pretty sure they just tuned us both out by now but that did not slow us down one bit. "J" had spent some time in the Philippines when he was in the Navy, so of course took (or feigned) a special interest in my daily prattling about Melinda.
And then on September 21, 1999, disaster struck Taipei City and all of Taiwan! A major earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale rumbled throughout the whole island! Over 2,400 people were killed! A 12 story hotel in Taipei City was completely demolished : Taipei City! that is where Melinda was! I still had no contact number for her and had never spoken to her since we started corresponding in June. Melinda’s employers still had not given her a day off and would not allow her to make any calls. If she went out to do shopping, her boss would always go with her; Melinda never had an opportunity to call me.
I was at a loss! Melinda had given me a number for one of her sisters, Emily, who lived in Manila. I called the number, and whoever answered the telephone could not understand me. This went on for several minutes, and finally her sister Emily came to the phone. She could understand some English, but she had not heard anything from Melinda, had no idea whatsoever what was going on. Meanwhile, five more major aftershocks hit Taiwan, and reports of more death and destruction continued to pour in. I had no idea what to do!
CLICK HERE FOR PART THREE, THE CONCLUSION!
CLICK HERE FOR PART ONE