“Your shirt please.” … “Okay, Here’s My Jacket Too.”
“God has not called me to be successful. He called me to be faithful.”---Mother Theresa
I started to write this book because of my life experiences and the effects I saw others had on me, during my life. But especially, one particular woman, influenced me even more: Nina Bovio. Nina has been my closest, one of two real female friends of my adult life. I really never had a friend who I could rely on like Nina, ever. A woman who lives 600 miles away from me. I in New Jersey, Nina in Michigan.
Here is this woman with so much love to give everyone, yet she’s a mother of six and a grandmother of twelve as this book goes to press. Yet she finds time to write me two to five times a week, rarely less. It’s depending on what she feels I need.
Since her youngest was about eight she’s been working twenty-five to thirty hours a week with the handicapped, the mature aged, the terminally ill, and other people who can’t do the basics in caring for themselves, for next to nothing. At first, Nina and I had one thing we in common, running. Based on my will to run competitively and hers, we hit it off as friends.
Nina is perhaps one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met in my life. I don’t believe I will ever meet anyone so seemingly ordinary and humble, yet so incredibly fascinating and loving. We’d often passed each other and been within yards, or miles of each other the previous years before our first encounter. Before we met, we never knew either one existed. We never knew how close to each other we’d been till after four months of writing to one another.
As I began to explain to her the dates and places I’d ran marathons, she too, at times was almost standing right next to me. As time has passed, with each letter, we began to understand more and more about people. We found out new things about ourselves. We revealed things to ourselves through letters that we’d never discussed with anyone else, including our husbands. Things not even written in our own diaries, for fear that we were either complaining or that someone would find out we weren’t normal. What we already knew and had accepted as a badge of honor. We’d thought separately and to ourselves, ‘who wants to be normal, yick.’
As we wrote, about everything, the weather to start and then about our gut-wrenching experiences and our sacred joys. The friendship bonded us more and more. We rarely spoke on the phone and saw each other about once every two to three years on an average. The letters continued. They continued, through the hills, valleys and plateaus of our lives starting Sunday, October 18th 1992.
It became a compulsion with me. An addiction. Writing a letter to Nina wasn’t a hobby. It wasn’t just a thing to do, because I felt I’d found a way to vent for a moment or a day. It was a soul-searching. An on going drama of everyday life. Sharing with someone who was nearly a complete stranger. Writing to someone who could only have a place in their heart for me and knew me well enough, that I didn’t feel threatened.
There are not many people and sometimes not any people in our lives that we have such a bond with, perhaps besides marriage. Every obstacle that I have gone through and Nina as well we’ve worked at helping each other, from far away mostly.
However, there have been those times when we rescued in person. Nina perhaps more than I. She did it for me. I adopted my first child and then my Mom died soon after. Nina flew in from Michigan. Got a rental car and hotel room in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The funeral and wake were all in Tenafly, New Jersey.
She arrived in Fort Lee at eleven at night. Then at nine in the morning, the next morning showed up at the funeral home and said, “I can babysit Sarah for you.” Whoa! What do you say to that? It was Friday, November 14th 2003. It was cool and sunny out. I hugged her and asked, “What do you think I should do?” She replied, “I’ll enjoy watching Sarah, everywhere you go till I have to leave at three in the afternoon for my flight back to Michigan.”
I was so stunned, I can not say. I knew then I had nothing to worry about. My new daughter was to be near me, yet well taken care of by an angel. What more could anyone ask? Nina and I had shared many tragedies together. Even when I was unaware of tragedies that were occurring in her life, I’d call her, sensing something. I was right, unfortunately.
Nina, that day got to meet family members and have lunch with all of us before she departed for her home in Michigan. Nina, has been a real true friend and has accepted my oddities as being another human being. Multiple times in my adult life Nina Bovio has Reached God’s Perfection for me. And I am grateful. Thank you Nina.
Afterword: Nina Bovio and I remain friends to this day. Emailing I do mostly, she does both email and snail mail to me. We call each other on holidays. I pray for her and her family members on every run. She has been my far away cheerleader. Although not understanding fully my pension for fighting, she has always supported it. My husband rode his motorcycle cross-country before we had children in 1995. He stayed over and met Nina and her husband Vince, who is also a motorcyclist. Norman enjoys Nina and speaking with her on the phone those few times a year we’re on the phone together. Our lives at times have seemed so different, yet we always understand each other.