Tiny Love Stories: ‘Mami Sent Me to Check You Out’


As a dutiful girlfriend, I accompanied Arturo to JFK airport to pick up his sister, who was arriving from Buenos Aires. Greeting her, I casually asked what brought her to New York. “Mami sent me to check you out,” she said. Years later, Mami was visiting us. She offered to buy me a replacement diamond for the one that fell out of my engagement ring. “Oh, I can’t allow you to buy me something so expensive,” I said. Her reply? “Please do, because you are everything I hoped for in a wife for my son.” How could I refuse? — Phyllis Meyers

In February 2019, my youngest sister, Melina, admitted herself into the hospital for PTSD from childhood trauma. When she returned home, she texted, “Do not contact me ever again!” Determined to get through to her, I invited her to walk with me and Preston, my goldendoodle. She loved Preston but refused. In March, Melina died of suicide. On a walk the morning after her funeral, Preston suddenly turned and barked behind us. Nothing was in sight. I felt then that Melina had changed her mind and decided, after all, to join us. — Sarina Tomel


I spoke to Sun Ung in broken Chinese, excited hand gestures and hugs. We lived together for 18 years: a strong-willed Cambodian refugee and me, his spunky Texan granddaughter. Then his Alzheimer’s took hold. He would scrunch his eyebrows, searching for our history in a sea of fading memories. I started every sentence with, “Remember when — ?” But, one of our final nights together before he died last March, we sat beside each other in silence. A granddaughter without the words to convey her love. A grandfather who didn’t need to remember the past to know she loved him anyway. — Sabrina Wong

Chantal and I met in Bordeaux, France. I was an American student, with long hair and a beard, dressed like John Lennon in olive Army surplus fatigues. Chantal, whose grandfather escaped Mussolini, looked like Isabella Rossellini. We married in Oakland, Calif. Chantal did not want children; I did. We divorced. Chantal’s journey continued, wild as ever. Mine: law school, suburbs, remarriage, children and Little League. Chantal would sometimes call. She became a psychologist. Once, Chantal said she wanted a child and asked if I’d be the father. I mistakenly told my wife. Flattered, remembering, hesitating, I said no. Nice though. — Mark Rice



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