How Patience Changed My Life Forever

We all know how patience can pay off in investing and saving for retirement. For this longtime Kiplinger contributor, patience also led him to the love of his life. It all started with a watermelon…

A young watermelon grows in a field.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

An East Coast university journalism professor — “Cynthia” — phoned and had a unique request. “Dennis, I use your articles in my classes. Both I and my students want to know more about your personal life, and especially about your paralegal, Anne. Who is she, really? Finally, what one aspect of your personality has been the most important for your professional success and happiness?”

I can answer that question in one word: patience. Knowing when to be patient can pay off in an all aspects of life, not just romance. Just look at some of the Kiplinger articles that note the importance of patience in investing and other issues:

And those are just examples where “patience” made it into the headline. Scores of other articles note the importance of patience when building wealth and coping with the ups and downs of the markets. For me, patience paid off in a life-changing way.

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Let me take you back in time to August 1969, shortly before I began law school at Loyola (Los Angeles), when I met Anne — who was a legal secretary and “the new roommate” of several Chinese students from Hong Kong. She, like thousands, were sent out of the British colony by their families in 1967 when there was real fear that China would invade.

“Dennis, you just have to meet Anne. You will be blown away by her command of English. She is beautiful and so intelligent,” I was told. So, with intelligence at the top of my dating criteria, I went to her apartment, was invited in by her roommates, and when Anne came in a short time later from work — as it was summer and hot — I said, “Let’s buy a watermelon!”

You’ve got to picture that exchange. Here, within seconds of meeting this guy, she hears an off-the-wall suggestion, but we drove to a nearby market and returned to her apartment with a watermelon.

To this day, I still remember how sweet it was.

Years earlier, as a foreign correspondent in Seoul, I interviewed soldiers from the San Fernando Valley for radio station KGIL. While traveling in Asia, I was smitten by the intelligence, beauty and kindness of the women I met.

Friends only

Law school leaves little time for dating, but we met for coffee occasionally and had wonderful conversations during one of which Anne established ground rules for our relationship: “Dennis, my family in Hong Kong is very traditional and has made it clear that I can be friends with American men, but nothing romantic, nothing ever romantic.”

I respected that Anne would honor her parents’ wishes. Our relationship would remain in the land of friendship, handshakes and nothing more.

Advice from a law school friend: Be patient!

After a while, being in this handshake relationship began to wear on me. I wanted to pursue a romantic relationship with her because I found her to be so delightful. And so, I spoke to a friend at Loyola: “Bruce, I have a deep friendship with this truly wonderful Chinese gal, but her parents do not want her to have a romantic relationship with a non-Chinese guy. I am conflicted, don’t know if it will ever change and wondering if I should politely end things.”

“Dennis,” Bruce replied, “Don’t give up. Maybe she feels the same way. Be patient.”

After law school, I joined the staff of the Kern County District Attorney’s Office and had many dates, but Anne was always on my mind.

Shortly thereafter, she moved to Vancouver, Canada. We wrote letters to each other. I cherished those letters, her handwriting, her amazingly beautiful — almost poetic — descriptions of her life. Our letter writing and an occasional phone call continued for years, and in one, she asked, “Are you married?”

“No!” I replied. “And you, Anne?”

“No,” was her encouraging answer, followed by, “I’ll be visiting a friend in L.A. Let’s get together.”

When the car door opened, everything changed

We went out for a bite, returned to her friend’s home, and as I was opening the driver’s door to escort her to the front door, Anne pulled me toward her for our first kiss!

I had fallen in love with her, and what I wanted all of these many years was a real, loving relationship. And now that was possible.

You are probably wondering, as I did then, What changed?

One of her sisters married an American, and her parents just loved the guy. That opened the door after six years of handshakes, six years of honoring Anne’s respect for her parents’ wishes, six years in which a wonderful friendship formed the basis of our marriage in 1976.

Our son, and his wife, who is from Nagoya, Japan, reside in Hong Kong and have given us the love of our lives, our 7-year-old grandson, Kai.

Every summer for all of these wonderful 47 years, when we go to a supermarket to buy a watermelon, we both stop, look at each other and remember.

Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield, Calif., and welcomes comments and questions from readers, which may be faxed to (661) 323-7993, or e-mailed to And be sure to visit


This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

H. Dennis Beaver, Esq.
Attorney at Law, Author of "You and the Law"

After attending Loyola University School of Law, H. Dennis Beaver joined California's Kern County District Attorney's Office, where he established a Consumer Fraud section. He is in the general practice of law and writes a syndicated newspaper column, "You and the Law." Through his column he offers readers in need of down-to-earth advice his help free of charge. "I know it sounds corny, but I just love to be able to use my education and experience to help, simply to help. When a reader contacts me, it is a gift."