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He got sick on vacation and sure is glad he did

Updated: March 18, 2014 4:15PM

Dennis wrote in in 1993 to tell of a vacation he took with his parents when he was a mere 5 years old.

“We were in a little fishing village in Puerto Rico when I got the mumps. There was no doctor in the village, but there was a doctor that had a weekend beach house down the road from our hotel. He took care of me.

“During my recovery, my parents became friendly with him and his wife and their little girl, Jackie. But the only contact the families had over the next 15 years was exchanging Christmas cards. Then one day, my dad had business in the city where the doctor and his family had their main home. He got in touch with him, and they decided that we would all return to the fishing village for the holidays.

“By this time, I was a senior in college and Jackie had changed quite a bit since we had last met. The attraction was there, but we were both involved with other people and nothing happened.

“My mother asked Jackie to visit us at our summer home. The summer was almost over when she called one day and asked if the invitation was still on. My mother said sure, and she arrived the next day.

“Instead of staying the two weeks she had planned, she stayed four and a half months. She returned the following summer, and we were married in November. Eighteen years and two kids later, I can only say: Beware of Puerto Rican mumps. The complications can last a lifetime.”

Dennis is back to say, “Well, I’m still recovering from the Puerto Rican mumps. Next November will be our 39th anniversary. And aside from acquiring a bride as a result of that trip, I acquired an entire culture and a second language, as well.

“We moved down to Miami in 1996 as my island girl just couldn’t take another Chicago winter. Although I’d been working in advertising until then (22 years at Leo Burnett, three of them in Venezuela and Puerto Rico due to further complications from those damn mumps), I was hired by the Spanish-language TV network Univision as a creative director for the company and am still with them today.

“Our kids are both married with the oldest expecting our first grandchild in April. We have a vacation condo down in Puerto Rico and living in Miami is only moderately less Latin. All in all, we’ve had a most interesting life so far living in both cultures.”

There’s a postscript to this tale. When Dennis sent me the story, back in 1993, he didn’t tell his wife. He wanted to surprise her. When it ran, he showed it to her. The names had been changed, as they always are.

“She read the story, then she said, ‘Wow, this couple met just like we did. Amazing! I wonder if there’s any way to contact them so we can compare stories?’ When I informed her that was our story, she was somewhat embarrassed, but nonetheless pleased.”

What part did illness play in your relationship? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to

Creators Syndicate

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