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By Tom Blake
San Clemente residents Chris and Christine (Tina) Anastasio are no strangers to my newspaper columns. In the 15 years I’ve known them, I’ve written about them twice.
Why the hoopla? Because, in the 26 years I’ve been writing newspaper columns, I’ve never met a senior couple who has endured as many relationship challenges as Chris and Christine.
Their story together began in 2004. Chris, as a dance host on a cruise ship, danced with Christine, a lovely widow of 18 months from England. After the cruise, they started corresponding, which began the longest, long-distance relationship of which I’m aware—5,419 miles between San Clemente and England.
When they could, they visited each other, and took trips together.
In 2009, I published a book titled How 50 Couples Found Love After 50. In their story, which is included in the book, Chris states, “Every time we get together, it’s like a honeymoon.”
After 13 years of being an unwed, long-distance couple, Chris and Christine married on Feb. 12, 2017, at the Dana Point Yacht Club. My partner, Greta, and I attended the wedding, and I wrote a column about them.
But their challenges weren’t entirely behind them. Christine still had to return to England from time-to-time, because she wasn’t eligible to permanently stay in the U.S.
So, a month after their wedding, Chris and Christine started the legal process of securing a two-year, temporary green card for her, so she wouldn’t have to leave the country so often.
A year later, in February 2018, Chris emailed: “After jumping through all kinds of hoops last year, we finally had Christine’s green card hearing today. It was 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. Christine suggested we bring your How 50 Couples Found Love After 50 book to the hearing.
“During the interview, I mentioned that we had become kind of famous because of our long-distance relationship. I said we were featured in your book, and handed it to him, with our page bookmarked.
“He started reading. His face lit up. He said, ‘This is great, I don’t have to see anything else. You have your green card.’
“It was amazing. That’s all he looked at. We were out of there in less than a half-hour. You had a hand (and a big hand at that) in getting Christine her green card. Thanks for your help.”
Their green-card story is why I wrote the second article about them.
Chris is now 85, and Christine turns 79 this December. Chris is well-known in South Orange County for his charity work.
One other thing about Chris, who is a U.S. Navy veteran. On the first anniversary of 9/11, at age 69, he put the American flag on the “A” marker buoy, via a kayak, just outside of Dana Point Harbor beyond the jetty in the Pacific Ocean.
Chris said, “I tended the flag every day from a kayak and changed it about every three months until I turned 80 and had heart surgery. The Dana Point Yacht Club said they liked it and would maintain it.”
This week, Chris emailed an update: “Christine’s two-year green card expires soon. So, we must go back in and apply for Christine’s 10-year, permanent green card. Is it OK with you if we carry your How 50 Couples Found Love After 50 to the government office again? It brought great luck to us two years ago.
My reply: “Of course. Let me provide you with a fresh copy. Hopefully, it will help you get Christine’s permanent green card.”
Also, not letting age slow them down, Christine and Chris added, “We are taking a cruise over the holidays. We board the ship in Singapore December 18, and disembark in Dubai, January 2, 2020. We will watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks from the deck of the ship in Dubai Harbor.”
Christine and Chris Anastasio are one of the most inspiring senior couples I know.
Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and San Clemente resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at findingloveafter50.com. To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org.