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TINA D. MESSER
on the 21st day of October, 1975, to proud parents Marvin and Nadine
Messer. She passed away on September 17th 1995 at 4:45 p.m. at the
age of 19, after a long, hard-fought battle with cancer that had
taken her left leg as a teenager.
ANGELS DO EXIST
Many times we hear
people speak of angels, but seldom do we believe that they really exist...let
alone do they really do anything to prosper or guide us through the
rough spots in life's little adventure here on earth. I am sure that we
all would like to believe that there really is a hereafter, and that
what we are going through here on earth is only preparing us for that
life in the promised land. Well, let me tell you a story that will
surely make you want to believe that there are indeed angels here on
There is a very
personal side to this story, as you will see, as it unfolds over the
next few lines that you are about to read. The story goes like this.
I believe in angels, as
I have met two in my lifetime. One I lost due to her death from cancer
(Tina) and the other I married (Heidi) after the death of my
first wife Darel of 30 years due to a 22 year fight with
It was the summer of
1991 and I was running a gift shop called SHARK'S TOOTH COVE, in Myrtle
Beach, South Carolina. As you might guess by the name, I was
dealing with sharks teeth and related shark items in this wonderful oceanside
vacation resort town. The shop was a must-do place to visit when in the
area if you were at all interested in sharks.
On a bright sunny day
in the middle of the hot summer (that's all we have here) in walked this
very petite, pretty little blond girl about 15 years old, I would have
guessed. I could hear her comments about all the real cool shark stuff
even before she got to the center of the store where the best things
were waiting for her to discover. The excitement in her voice told me
that this would be another real adventure for me in the sense that I
would be opening her up to a world that she really couldn't comprehend
at this very moment. Little did I realize at that moment that she
wanted to become a marine science professional.
Tina (in yellow) surrounded by her
mother Nadine (far left), and friends
Our two worlds were
about to collide as we both had a lot to share with each other. We
were both in for a shock of sorts, and mine was the first. As she
approached the counter in the middle of the store, it wasn't until then
that I saw the pair of crutches she was using, nor the fact that she had
only one beautiful tan leg supporting her body. Yet, the smile on her
face was so captivating that you knew whatever it was that had taken her
leg was of no real concern to her. During our following conversation, I
did ask her what type of shark it was that had gotten her leg. She
and her friends all just got a big laugh out of my question, and she
would later go on to tell me about her fight with cancer.
She spent a
considerable amount of time in the shop asking all the typical questions
about the shark collections that I had on display and for sale. She
purchased several items and was given the standard package of freebees
that I would give to all genuinely interested shark enthusiasts that
came to the shop.
A couple of days later
she came to the shop with her mother and we were able to sit and have a
very nice conversation about her and her situation. It was at that time
that my wife Darel appeared from behind the counter in her electric
wheelchair. Tina was very surprised and a little embarrassed to think
that I had spent so much time with her, discussing her disease,
when I should have been dealing with my wife and her situation first.
The compassion I
saw on her face when she spoke with Darel about her MS and the effects
that it had on her life was overwhelming to me. Here was a
young girl that had lost her leg to cancer at such a young age, yet had
not a sound of bitterness in her sweet young voice. She had taken all
what had happened to her as if this were normal and had gotten on with
her life. Not for a moment did I get the feeling that there was a
thought that this just might not be the end of her experience with
cancer. Little did we know that within the next two years she would be
fighting for her life once again.
Over the next couple of
years we spoke and visited on many occasions. It was during these
wonderful moments of release from our two worlds of hell that we became
very close friends. We were able to put aside all the ills of the health
situations we were dealing with and enjoy all the treasures that I had
acquired over the years. We spoke of my travels around the world seeking
out people that were deeply involved with the shark and marine world.
Tina could only hope that one day she too would be able to meet the
likes of Rodney Fox, Ron and Valerie Taylor, The Shark Lady, and so many
more interesting people that I had come in contact with in the field of
During these wonderful
times, never did I ever get the feeling that she was missing out on any
of life's adventures, as she in her own world was on a mission of her
own. She was such a positive person and was so full of life that people
were so taken with her genuine interest in their lives. She wanted to
help everyone that she came into contact with. She had a very large
heart, one filled with love for anyone that would let her into their
I welcomed her into my
life with no reservations at all. There was nothing I wouldn't do for
her, and she for me. Every time we spoke, she always asked about
Darel, before I could ask about her. This beautiful child, on more than
one occasion was able to lift my spirits when times were so rough for
me. There were times when I didn't think I could possibly take another
day of caring for my wife. Then I would feel guilty, when I would hear
her voice or read her letters as she described what was going on in her
life...not knowing that her days were very limited, and the grains of
sand were quickly running out of her hour glass of life.
In November of 1993,
after long discussions with Darel's many doctors, I was told she had
less than a year to live. If I had anything special that I wanted to do
with her, now was the time to do it. With no hesitation, I set into
motion the closing of our gift shop in preparation for a journey that
would take us from one end of our wonderful country to the other.
We gave Tina this
drawing when we closed the shop
During our travels, I
would send post cards to a select few that had touched my life in a way
that I didn't want to lose touch with them. Tina was at the top of that
list. No matter where I was, there wasn't a time when I didn't wonder
about her and say a prayer or two for her good health.
It was the summer of
1995, and we were in British Columbia on our way to Fairbanks, Alaska,
when my mail of some three months finally caught up with us. There
were several letters there from Nadine, Tina's mother. It was with heavy
heart that I read that Tina's cancer had returned with a vengeance
and the outcome was not very good. Nadine told me that she didn't think
Tina would live out the remainder of the year. She was already too sick
to speak to me on the phone.
I asked if there was
something special that I could do for Tina that might brighten up her
final days. Nadine told me her son who was in the Air Force was
stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska some years ago and had flown Tina up
there for a visit. This was all I needed to know. Within a few
short days I was in the Fairbanks area and set about putting together a
care package of local items that would bring back a lot of good
memories of her visit. I shipped this overnight to Tina back in South Carolina.
I was very surprised
when I called the very next day to check on Tina's condition, to learn
that the package had arrived and she was already wearing the nightshirt
I had sent her. Nadine told me how happy Tina was when she saw the
contents of my package. Later I would find out that she wore that shirt
every day until she passed away. This gave me a lot of comfort, as I
knew I was as close to her as possible in those last few days
of her special life.
I received my last
letter from Nadine on Labor Day weekend, around the 15th of the month. The
tone of the letter told me that things were very bad and that time was
running out for Tina. This was a very sad letter, as her a mother was
experiencing the death of one of her two children. No child is
supposed to die before their parents, it's just a concept that we can't
seem to grasp, yet it happens all the time. It's just not supposed to
happen to us. What ever that means.
I called and Nadine
told me that Tina had been slipping in and out of a coma for a the last
two days, and I knew this was pretty much the end of her struggle
and she would be leaving us very soon.
On the 17th of
September around noon, I had just finished giving Darel her bath
and had put her to bed, when I thought about calling Nadine to
check on the current situation. I had a very strange feeling come
over me. There was a 4 hour time difference between Alaska and South
Carolina, so I knew that the family would all be together for the dinner
hour, so I would wait a little while longer before I would call.
As I sat in my easy
chair in the dark, with my two cats curled up in my lap, listening
to the soft sounds of classical music in the background, as I so often
do to escape the reality of my day, I had this very strange feeling come
over me that was very overwhelming. As I re-read Nadine's last letter,
as I have so many times already, the sadness I had felt before was gone.
In its place was a very warm, peaceful, and very pleasurable
feeling of happiness. A
feeling like I have not known for some time now. It was almost as if
someone or something was reaching out and touching me , and reassuring
me that everything was going to be ok and there wasn't any need for me
to worry about Tina or anything any longer. I felt like a burden was
being lifted from my shoulders, and that things were going to be
different somehow, from here on out. Maybe it was the wonderful music I
was listening to, or the fact that my cats were purring by my side, or
Darel was resting after such a difficult morning she had that day.
Little did I realize at
that very moment, that Tina had just passed away. I wouldn't know this
for another two days. I believe now and will always believe, that
the feeling I was experiencing while relaxing in my chair that
afternoon, was from the presence of an ANGEL.
Tina touched the
lives of all who met her, even those who learned about her after her
passing. A condensed life of kindness goes a long way. It's
not the length of life that matters, it's how it is lived.
Photos of Tina with Glenn in
his shop, in front of his shark aquarium, and using Darel's (his now
deceased wife) beach chair on Myrtle Beach, SC, both photos dated
September 17, 2015
You would have been 39 next
month. I can only imagine the accomplishments you would have
achieved. You will always be loved and missed by all that knew you.
September 18, 2015
presence was felt today, as this was not here yesterday.
of the passing of an Angel
September 17, 1995
Her memory will not fade,
her smile will not disappear, her voice will always be heard, and her hugs
and kisses will always be felt. She lives within us all, forever.
Loving her was the easy
part, missing her will be forever.
9/15/10 My heart to yours, Glenn.
This is the rose you picked for me yesterday,
from our own garden. The last rose of the season.
TINA'S COUSIN CYNTHIA
I had no
idea you started this page until tonight. Laying in bed she popped in my
head as she does from time to time. I'm Cynthia aka cindy and I'm Tina's
cousin. Her dad Marvin was my dad's uncle. They laid carpet for many
I always looked up to her. She was nice and friendly to everyone. She
not only smiled with her mouth but thru her eyes. They sparkled like two
stars! That laugh of hers was contagious. I can still hear it
plain as day!! I have a lot of memories with her and I wouldn't
trade any of them for the world. Aunt Nadine is a wonderful lady and If
I could be half the woman she is then I'd be luckier than a millionaire.
wanted to say thanks for this page. I really needed to see those pics
and you've done a wonderful job on the site.
Cynthia Staton McClain
I was just about to
close down for the night and your wonderful email came through.
Tina's page has
been on our web site for since Oct. 2005, after her 10th
anniversary of her passing, as I had lost contact with Nadine, as I
felt that I needed her permission to publish what I have.
We have gotten
hundreds of interesting contacts about her. There have also
been so many people that have thanked us for publishing my story
about Tina as it has given them hope for the loved ones that they
too have lost over the the years.
This September will
mark her 20th anniversary of leaving us, and it seems as fresh as
yesterday. There isn't a day that passes that I don't think
about her and what she meant to so many people in her short life
There are times
when I know she is her in my presence. Let me explain. She
loved yellow roses and I have raised roses for many years. When they
bloom in the spring as they are today, the YELLOW rose is always the
first to bloom and that last to die off in the fall. I just
bought 12 new rose bushes (all colors) a few weeks ago and they have
been in our home waiting out the weather to be planted
outside. My first rose to bloom in this new batch of roses is,
I can only imagine
what she would have accomplished had she lived a normal life time
length. We lost a great person in her passing.
Your aunt is also a
very wonderful person that has gone through a lot, not only losing
her daughter, but her husband also. Heidi and I had the chance
several months ago to have dinner with her and her new husband in
Myrtle Beach. She seems to be happy at the present time.
If you have no
objections I would like to post your email on Tina's page. How did
you come about finding her link on our site ?
It's kind of crazy I was laying there
and I she came across my mind. I started thinking what would I find if
I Googled her. With Facebook and other social media now a days seems
to have a memorial page. Then I came across your page. I clicked on it
and was overwhelmed. The pictures and the yellow roses just made
memories rush back.
There are several of us cousins
all about the same age that grew up together and it was said at one
time "It could have been any one of us." Why her? There is
no doubt in my mind that she would have done something great. She
would have exceeded any expectation on any job or profession she
chose. She definitely would not have made the mistakes we did.
I can remember watching her in her
room while she was writing cheers and drawing stick figures in a
notebook so that the new girls could go over and see how the movements
went. Or swimming out by the pool at her house. Or the time when she
got a splinter in her finger and Nadine wrote her homework out while
Tina told her how to do it.
I sent Nadine a message with your
email address. Yes, you may post my email on your page. I can't
believe it's been almost 20 years.
Thanks again for your page!
June 14, 2014
FRIEND MARK CLARK
I was wondering the picture on the wall of
Tina Messer with the yellow roses
On her memorial page.
Is there any way I could get a copy or a pic
Its funny a lot of time has passed but I
still tell people about her.
It would be nice to have a pic I could hang
in my house.
I haven't seen Nadine in years, I hope she is
Thank you again for making this page for her.
Best regards, Mark
It was nice hearing from you once
again. This is the effect that Tina had on everyone. Once you met her,
you would never be able to forget her. We still get many emails
thanking us for her page, as it has helped other people cope with their
particular loss. She had such way with touching you that you were never
going to ever forget this young lady, as she had so much to offer, yet
she and we all knew her time was limited here on earth, and we wanted to
be as much a part of her short life as possible. She really gave
us a reason to live.
I have no problem sending you a nice
copy of her picture. Please send me your mailing address and I will send
it out in the mail Monday.
Nadine, has re-married and
moved to Charleston for the past two years. Then last spring (2013) we
met her and her new husband at the Captains Quarters Restaurant in
Myrtle beach for dinner one night. They are happy.
Once again, thanks for the
memories of her presents on your life.
August 14, 2012
FRIEND MARK CLARK
Hi I saw this memorial page for Tina a few
months ago and had to respond. I met Tina when I was 19 I'm 40 now. I have
never met anyone who has stuck in my heart and mind as much as Tina. She
was dating my neighbor at the time I remember she was sitting in the back
seat of my car her boyfriend and I were sitting in the front joking and
laughing. I remember looking in my rear view mirror and was blessed to
catch her laughing Ill never forget her smile to this day. I was blessed
to see her in the hospital a few months before she went to live with God.
I always wished I could have had time to hang with her and just sit and
talk to the most amazing person I have ever met. There's not a day that
goes by that I don't think about her that I can remember and I always
tell people of her courage and that famous smile. I cant wait till the day
we all see her again and let her know how she has been missed even to the
ones that only knew her for a short time. Thank you for making this page
for Tina. I pray for Tina's parents every night since she has been gone
and was saddened when I heard about Marvin (Tina's dad) but I know he's
with his little girl now and when we see her I believe it will be like two
old friends reunited after many years the laughing and joking will start
and it will seem like no time at all has passed. Thank You
April 6th 2012
FROM TINA'S MOTHER
Tina's mother Nadine made contact with me
last night with some very sad news. Tina's Grandmother passed away on
Dec the 6th, 2011, her uncle died the morning of his mother's funeral
the 9th of Dec. 2011, and now her father has joined her in heaven on the
12th of Feb. 2012.
Nadine tells me that when Marvin, (her
husband and Tina's father) passed away that "HE HAD THE SWEETEST
SMILE ON HIS FACE", and she said, "HE HAS SEEN TINA''. I
can only imagine what this thought has done to give Nadine a sense of
final peace for her family. Now Tina has her grandmother, an uncle and
now her beloved father with her. May they all rest in peace.
Comment from friend Brent:
Very nice Memorial! Your husband
certainly felt the presence of an Angel.
I'm never going to forget Tina's beautiful smile in all her pictures.
have been enjoying your wonderful website and just read the memorial for
Tina - so beautiful. My son, Jerome, was killed by a hit and run
driver on September 17, 2003 at age 26. No words can describe the
pain of a parent losing a child. Knowing that Tina and Jerome are
together put a smile on my face and warmed my heart. Thank you for
Thank you for your kind words. Sharing
such a loss with the world is just my way of dealing with such a
terrible amount of pain, that most people can't begin to understand.
It is my hope that in reading about Tina,
maybe there are families that are in desperate need for a little
understanding , and to know that they are not alone in dealing with
their grief. No parent ever wants to outlive their children, and when
they are taken at such early ages it's almost more than one can bear.
Sharing is such a caring experience that we all can benefit from.
I wish you all the best, and am so glad
that Tina and I have touched you in this special way. Her life continues
to touch people , she truly is an ANGEL.
on her senior cruise with a friend.
Yellow roses for Tina's 10th anniversary
memorial, from Glenn
SEPTEMBER 17, 2005
and FAMILY of Tina are welcome to email us with their experiences and
thoughts about this special person, and we will post them here on her
Email Glenn at:
from Tina's Mom Nadine after this web page was up -
beautiful!! This is the most awesome thing. Is it not strange
that this being the tenth year, and it was seeming to be one of the
hardest for us to get through the anniversary of her death...that you
would re-appear into our life? She must have sent you back to us. I love
the way you constructed the whole memorial. You have a special gift! We
have a special gift by knowing you. Darel and Tina were two of
the best gifts God could have given.
remember how excited Tina would get when we knew we were coming to the
beach. The first thought on her mind was your shop. She told all her
friends about you. When she knew her time was very short...she said,
"Mama, you can give any of these pictures away (in her room) except
that one." You know which one. The Great White that was autographed.
The one you so graciously took off the wall that day and gave her. She was
so excited all the way home, she talked of nothing else. Remember the one
that wasn't autographed...I can not remember if you gave it to her or she
bought it. It is framed and in the hall at the Pediatric Center in
Greenville. The framer donated the brass plaque on the bottom that tells
of her birth and death. The doctor over the whole Children's Hospital told
me just the other day that he thinks of her every day. I asked, "How
so?" He said they moved the picture from the exam room to the hall.
As he passes has says he thinks of her smile. The shark that was
painted on the tile was donated in her memory to her Science class at her
high school. The teacher was her favorite. He even came to the house and
brought Pizza. Every time she was in the hospital, he came. You have
brought back so many sweet memories for us. I thank you. Please take care.
I think I will try to find that Science teacher and tell him of the
10/3/05 from Glenn
to Tina's mom Nadine,
Thank you for your
permission to publish the memorial. I do hope that you contact a lot of
people and spread the word about what we are doing. I think it will give
everyone a chance to reflect on how she has affected their lives since
she passed away. It will also give others reading it the time to look at
what their lives are all about, and just maybe they will make a change
in what they are doing and appreciate what they have rather than what
they don't have. I would love to hear from her doctors and nurses, and
have them tell us directly about the picture in the hall.
I am sure Tina
reached out and touched me again, and that's one of the reasons that I
was able to find you two after this 5 years that we were out of contact.
THERE ARE REASONS WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO, WHEN WE DO IT.