August 11, 2023 • By Dennis Beaver

An East Coast university journalism professor, “Cynthia,” phoned and had a unique request.

“Dennis, I use your articles in my classes. Both I and my students want to know more about your personal life, and especially about your paralegal, Anne. Who is she, really? Finally, what one aspect of your personality has been the most important for your happiness.

I can answer that question in one word: patience. Knowing when to be patient can pay off in all aspects of life, not just romance. Just Google these articles that note the importance of patience in investing and other issues:

Investors Nearing Retirement Show Patience

Caring for Aging Parents Takes Planning Ahead and Patience

Investment Patience is a Virtue

Patience Pays for Investing Decisions

For me, patience paid off in a life-changing way.

So, let me take you back in time, to August of 1969, shortly before beginning law school at Loyola (Los Angeles), when I met Anne, who was a legal secretary and “the new roommate” of several Chinese students from Hong Kong.

She, like thousands, were sent out of the British Colony by their families in 1967 when there was real fear that China would invade.

“Dennis, you just have to meet Anne. You will be blown away by her command of English. She is beautiful, and so intelligent,” I was told. So, with intelligence at the top of my dating criteria, I went to her apartment, was invited in by her roommates, and when Anne came in a short time later from work — it was summer, and hot — I said, “Let’s buy a watermelon!”

You’ve got to picture that exchange. Here, within seconds of meeting this guy, she hears an off-the-wall suggestion, but we drove to a near-by market and returned to her apartment with a watermelon.

To this day, I still remember how sweet it was.

Years earlier, as a foreign correspondent in Seoul, South Korea, I interviewed soldiers from the San Fernando Valley for radio station KGIL. While traveling in Asia, I was smitten by the intelligence, beauty and kindness of the women I met.

Friends Only

Law school leaves little time for dating, but we met for coffee occasionally and had wonderful conversations, during one of which Anne established ground rules for our relationship: “Dennis, my family in Hong Kong is very traditional and has made it clear that I can be friends with American men, but nothing romantic, nothing ever romantic.”

I respected Anne for the fact that she honored her parents’ wishes. Our relationship would remain in the land of friendship, handshakes, and nothing more.

Advice from a friend – Be patient!

After a while, being in this handshake relationship began to wear on me. And so, I spoke to a friend at Loyola: “Bruce, I have a deep friendship with this truly wonderful Chinese gal, but her parents do not want her to have a romantic relationship with a non-Chinese guy. I am conflicted, don’t know if it will ever change and wondering if I should politely end things.”

“Dennis,” Bruce replied, “Don’t give up. Maybe she feels the same way. Be patient.” I followed his advice.

After law school I joined the staff of the Kern County District Attorney’s Office and had many dates, but Anne was always on my mind.

Shortly thereafter, she moved to Vancouver, Canada. We wrote letters to each other. I cherished those letters, her handwriting, her amazingly beautiful, almost poetic, description of her life.

Our letter writing and an occasional phone call continued for years, and in one, she asked, “Are you married?” “No!” I replied. “And you, Anne?” “No,” was the encouraging answer, followed by, “I’ll be visiting a friend in L.A. Let’s get together.”

When the Car Door Opened Everything Changed

We went out for a bite, returned to her friend’s home, and as I was opening the driver’s door to escort her to the front door, Anne pulled me towards her for our first kiss!

I had fallen in love with her, and what I wanted all of these many years was a real, loving relationship. And now that was possible.

“So, what happened?” You are wondering, as I did.

One of her sisters married an American and her parents just loved the guy. That opened the door after six years of handshakes, six years of honoring Anne’s respect for her parents’ wishes. Six years in which a wonderful friendship formed the basis of our marriage in 1976.

Our son, and his wife from Nagoya, Japan, reside in Hong Kong and have given us the love of our lives, our 7-year-old grandson, Kai.

Every summer for all of these wonderful 47 years, when we go to a supermarket to buy a watermelon, we both stop, look at each other, and remember.