By Tom Blake
Valentine’s Day is associated with red hearts, red greeting cards, red heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and red roses.
But for one San Clemente couple, Valentine’s Day 2018, will feature a green heart.
In 2003, at 70 years old, Chris Anastasio, recently divorced, became a dance host on cruise ships. In 2004, he danced with Tina, a lovely woman from England. After the cruise, they started corresponding, which began the longest, long-distance relationship of which I’ve ever known—5,419 miles apart.
In 2009, I published a book titled How 50 Couples Found Love After 50. Chris and Tina were one of the featured couples. Their story was called, “Cruise Ship Dance Host Meets Match at Sea.”
In the book, Chris was quoted, “Tina would love to live in California, but she has family and grandchildren in England. Friends always ask us if we plan to marry and live together. That doesn’t make much sense. Every time we get together it’s like a honeymoon.”
After 13 years of being an unwed, long–distance couple, things changed. On Feb. 12, 2017, Chris and Tina married at the Dana Point Yacht Club.
But Tina still had to return to England from time to time because she wasn’t eligible to permanently stay in the United States. So, a month after their wedding, Chris and Tina started working on securing a green card for her.
On Jan. 26, Chris emailed, “After jumping through all kinds of hoops in 2017, we finally had Tina’s green card hearing today. It’s the last stop in the process. We were told to bring pictures, papers, letters or anything else that would prove we were a real couple. Tina suggested we bring your How 50 Couples Found Love After 50 book with us.
“During the interview, I mentioned that we had become kind of famous because of our long-distance relationship,” Chris continued. “I said, ‘in fact, we were written about in a book.’ I handed him your book, with our page marked with a book marker. He opened the book and started reading. His whole face lit up. He said, ‘This is great, I don’t have to see anything else. You have your green card.’
“It was amazing. He never looked at anything else. We were out of there in less than a half hour. You had a hand (and a big hand at that) in getting Tina her green card. Thanks for your help.”
I think Chris and Tina’s story is remarkable. A 13-year, long-distance relationship endured. Chris just turned 84 and Tina is 77. Chris volunteers at the San Clemente Villas by dancing with the residents every week. He also dresses up as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny on holidays.
For Valentine’s Day, you can bet the color of Chris and Tina’s valentine will be green. I am incredibly proud of them.