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Local wife recognized for helping her family

OCEANSIDE — For Anders Jonasson, it was love at first sight when his eyes met those of a beautiful Ethiopian sales clerk at the cosmetics counter at The Broadway, Century City in 1995. He was shopping for Chanel No. 5 for his mother he was preparing to visit in Sweden.

Unfortunately, the feelings weren’t mutual.

“He told me I was going to marry him,” Titi Jonasson remembered. “I gave him my business card, and was polite because I was on commission. Fifteen minutes later he came back with chocolate and said, ‘OK, I’m going to Sweden for two weeks but want to take you out when I return.’”

When he did, they began dating. Two years later they got married and became a family — Anders, Titi and her little girl, Ruth. Soon, daughter Kaitlyn followed. In 1999 the Jonassons relocated to Oceanside, Titi said, because of the schools and family-friendly environment. Life was good until the following year when Anders was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

“Mentally it was hard,” Titi recalled. “He was not the only one with the disease — the whole family had it. You’re thinking about it 24/7. If you leave him for just two hours, he could fall.”

Anders didn’t like being a worry, but said he had to push himself, and remain active, for fear of getting worse and becoming completely dependent on others.

To cope, Titi began throwing herself into kick boxing, yoga and Pilates.

“I began exercising at the YMCA two hours a day, six days a week,” she said. “It’s a small place with good people and I have met a lot of friends.”

Last spring Anders professed his love to Titi again when, without her knowledge, he entered her in a contest that honors caregivers.

“I was online and a pop-up ad read ‘Women Just Like You,’” he recalled. “It said if you know someone in your life who has done something special you could win a trip to New York City. It took me to a website where I wrote a letter and sent a photo of my wife.”

In May, he received an e-mail that Titi was among five winners out of a total of 2,200 entries.

After being named one of five winners in the Women Just Like You competition earlier this year, Oceanside resident Titi Jonasson was flown to New York City where she had a beauty makeover, professional photo shoot, and was featured in an advertorial in People magazine in September. Courtesy photo

To his surprise, Titi didn’t have the response he expected. She was petrified of having her picture taken by a professional photographer.

Then she re-read the letter. “It made me think I was doing something right,” she thought.

In July she and Kaitlyn were picked up at their home by a limo and driven to Lindbergh Field where they took a jet to New York City, and checked in to the luxurious Hotel Gansevoort.

The next day a limo drove them to Hudson Studios where Titi met the other winners and had a complete makeover by fashion designer Lela Rose.

“The Women Just Like You campaign celebrates women who have made a positive impact on their friends, family and community,” said Rose, also spokeswoman for the campaign. “I truly enjoy helping women who wear my designs to look their best while doing the things that matter to them most.”

Afterward, it was time for Titi to face her fears in a photo shoot with celebrity photographer Dorian Caster.

“In the beginning, I was kind of nervous, but I liked the music and he was really nice,” she said. “I tried to relax and we talked about other things. Then I thought, ‘Wow,’ this is the way supermodels are pampered.’”

That night she and Kaitlyn had pizza in Times Square. They spent the following day touring New York City, and returned to San Diego the next day.

Titi and the other women’s stories and photos were featured in an advertorial for BOTOX