Mama Mia! Here We Go Again. Senior Daytime Date in Palm Springs.

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter –  July 27, 2018

Mama Mia! Here We Go Again. Senior Daytime date in Palm Springs

Greta and I were in Palm Springs last week-end. On Saturday, the temperature was hovering around 106 degrees. It was a perfect day—to be inside in air conditioning.

Greta said, ”You’re invited on a senior daytime date. And what better place to be inside than a movie theater?”

Along with Greta’s brother Carl, and his wife Kathy, we went to the 3:10 p.m. movie, Mama Mia! Here We Go Again, the sequel to the earlier Mama Mia that had been released the same week, 10 years before.

I mentioned a month ago in the Book Club column that I’m not much of a movie-goer. But, since the Mama Mia! soundtrack was ABBA’s music, my favorite group of all time, I was game for the matinee.

I have loved ABBA’s music since I first heard of it in 1974. I was sitting on a yacht in Sydney (Australia) Harbor having adult beverages with business clients. My Australian hosts raved about ABBA, a new singing group from Sweden, that had gained great popularity in Australia.

I bought the album, ABBA Greatest Hits. How could you not love the upbeat music of four Swedish singers named Anni-Frid, Bjourn, Benny and Agnetha (ABBA is an acronym using the first letters of each member’s first name)?

Benny and Bjourn wrote almost all their songs. I’ve listened to each song hundreds of times. For me, their music has never grown old. For this movie, they were listed as executive producers and both had cameo appearances.

In 2013, Greta and I were on a Holland America cruise that stopped in Stockholm for two days. We saw on a tourist map that there was a new ABBA museum in Stockholm. No ship crew members, including the captain, knew anything about it.

On day-two of our port visit, we took a city bus to a park on the far side of Stockholm where the map indicated the museum was located. After an hour, the bus passed a building with a red carpet leading up to it. That’s the museum, we surmised, and got off at the next stop, and walked back.

Lo and behold, it was the ABBA Museum. Lots of people milling around. Near the red carpet, there were TV cameras showing the peacock logo, as in NBC. At that moment, I didn’t connect the dots.

                Opening day at the Abba Museum in Stockholm

We lined up to get tickets to tour the museum. The lady behind the counter said, “I’m sorry, this is our very first day, we are sold out, there are no tickets.”

Greta said, “We are from California, here on a cruise ship. Our ship leaves today at 5 p.m. We will never see it.” Then, Greta gave the woman one of my Picket Fence Media business cards. The lady said, “You are a journalist from Southern California?”


“Let me check with my boss.”

She returned shortly. “Are you available to take a tour at 12:15?”

“For sure,” we replied.

We spent an hour in the ABBA Museum on it’s first day of being open and loved it. My biggest regret: not buying a “I was there first” t-sheet.”

   I was there first t-shirt on opening day of the ABBA museum

When we came out, we took advantage of a photo opportunity.

   ABBA impersonators of Anni-Frid and Agnetha, with Tom and Greta

We checked out the peacock cameras. I had seen similar cameras before, when I had been on the Today show twice. I said to Greta, “We aren’t leaving. The Today show is going to cover the opening. And, there is Natalie Morales-Rhodes, doing sound checks with Today in New York.”

We established a position four feet from Natalie. There were maybe 100 people gathered around.

Natalie Morales-Rhodes at the ABBA museum in Stockholm 2013

Then, a rumor started to spread that Bjourn and Anni-Frid were going to be interviewed by Natalie. With that rumor circulating, within minutes, virtually 10,000 Swedes descended on the red-carpet area. We could hear Natalie talking to Matt Lauer. There was a Swedish-buzz in the air; seldom did any ABBA members make public appearances.

Our ship was scheduled to depart at 5 p.m. We were at least one hour away by bus. It was 2 p.m. Delay, delay, delay. I started to think: Greta and I had to leave. But, finally, with easily 15,000 Swedes surrounding us, Bjourn and Anni-Frid appeared. It was exciting.

     Bjourn and Anni-Frid (in sunglasses, to right of hand holding camera)

Greta had moved over to be in the shade, it was a bloody hot day. She was two inches from the two ABBA members when they entered and exited an adjacent building. She said, “They practically bumped into me.”

When the interview ended, I couldn’t find her, amidst the crowd. We had to catch a bus.

We made it back to the ship. Late. It hadn’t sailed yet. There were 15 other passengers on the bus with us. The ship wouldn’t dare leave with so many passengers ashore. And it didn’t.

So, going to the new Mama Mia! movie had special meaning to us. Because of the ABBA music, the beautiful Croatian setting, the talented actors and actresses, the movie was very entertaining, albeit a little trivial. There were flashbacks and flash-forwards that were confusing, especially for people like Carl, who hadn’t seen the original. Kathy kept explaining to him what was going on.

Also, Kathy’s family roots are from Sweden, which helped her understand all of the movie confusion.

For me, the “Dancing Queen” scene was the most enjoyable. Also, “Waterloo,” set in France, was lively. And the song “Fernando” was well done with Cher, playing a grandmother, singing a duet with Andy Garcia.

If you are an Abba fan, do not miss this movie. You’ll be on your feet dancing! It won’t win best picture, but it will contend for best musical score. Ah, it was a pleasant daytime date in Palm Springs in the sweltering heat.

Daughter wants widowed mom to remarry

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – July 20, 2018

Daughter wants widowed mom to remarry

Reggie the Lab arrives at his new home 

Three Champs share wisdom

                                          Daughter wants mom to remarry

During the summer months, I always get a boost in the number of inquiries I receive about people wanting to meet potential mates. Often, they do not say where they are located or provide enough details for me to be of much help to them, unless they include more information in a follow-up email.

Many of the emails originate on my Finding Love After 50 website. Anybody, any where in the world, can send me a message from that site.

For example, an email from Stephanie arrived this week. I could tell Stephanie was most likely not from the United States or Canada because she used the word “mum,” where we in North America would usually use the word “mom.”

Stephanie emailed, “I really want my mum, 50, to remarry; it’s eight years after my father passed away. I want her to get married to a man who is well-to-do and can take very good care of her the way she deserves to be taken care of. She is loving, caring, kind and affectionate. She is pretty as well.”

I replied, “Nice of you to write with the message about your mum. She is fortunate to have a daughter who cares about her. Some children don’t want their parents to remarry because no one can replace dad, or they are worried about losing their inheritance to a parent’s new love interest.

Is mum dating? Is she out meeting new people? Does she have email? I ask because every Friday I send out a no-cost eNewsletter titled, “On Life and Love after 50,” which is emailed to more than 2,000 people around the globe. She can sign up for that on the home page of the website. That would be a good first step to help her to meet new people and for ideas on how to do it. Where is mum located? (I asked that because it’s important for people to know in case their interest in mum is piqued).

Your wish for her to marry ‘a man who is well-to-do so he can take care of her the way she deserves to be taken care of’ is an interesting thought, which I classify as a giant red flag. If that requirement is posted in an online dating profile, every man in the world who would read it would likely run and hide. It’s not a man’s (or woman’s) job to take care of someone in the way that person deserves to be taken care of.

What would be more important, and the first order of business, would be for her to find a man who has similar qualities as she. You described those qualities as loving, caring, kind, affectionate.

Being attractive—handsome or pretty–is the frosting on the cake. Often handsome and wealthy people are nice people, but sometimes they aren’t nice people. Some feel their beauty entitles them to not put forth the effort a relationship requires. .

And then there is the issue of remarriage. As people reach the age 50 and 60 mark, many of them don’t want to remarry. Does your mom want to remarry? Or, is that what you want for her, so that you can feel she is going to be secure?

Or, would she be happy initially just meeting a good man and hanging out with him without marriage?

People who want to remarry above all else often scare off nice potential mates.

If mum wants to email me, have her do that. Does she work? We need to know more about her to help her. At age 50, she’s young. Are there children still at home?

More information would be helpful. Thanks for caring about her.

                                       Stephanie responds

Stephanie clarified a few things when she wrote: “We are Nigerians, she’s self-employed and yes she wants to remarry.

She has kids and I am the last, I’m 20 so her getting married won’t be a problem, if the man is well-to-do it’s okay, he doesn’t have to be so wealthy and so handsome.

“Yes, she is ready to meet new people and she has an email address.”

Tom responded, “Sign her up for the Friday eNewsletter. It’s free and she can read it when she gets time. Go to the homepage and enter her name and email address.

I commend you, at age 20, for looking out for your mom. Keep me posted.

                      Comment on the website

People often ask me how to view previous newsletters. About 5 years of recent ones are on the website along with lots of other material. To view previous newsletters, place your cursor on the green bar across the top of the home page where it says eNewsletters. You don’t need to click on it, just hover the cursor over it.  A drop down menu will show Tom’s 2018 eNewsletters. Click on that. To the right side, you will see the recent ones listed. And, under Archives you can see them listed by each month in 2018.

To see many former columns listed under various categories, you can alsoclick on that same eNewsletters tab. Sounds complicated but it’s really simple.

You can repeat the process to view 2017, 2016-2013 newsletters. You can also see in the drop down box videos of interviews I did on the Today Show and Good Morning America. Email me if you have questions.

                                4 Champs: one woman,  2 men share their thoughts

Champ Pam, who is involved in the San Diego Orchid Society, emailed, “Just thinking about how people can meet–especially for the So Cal Champs, there are (floral) societies.  In San Diego, the orchid, cactus and succulent, and bromeliad societies’ memberships have more men members than women.  They host floral exhibitions, classes, and educational programs.

There are societies for bonsai, epiphyllum, plumeria, fern, palm, geraniums, herbs, arthropod, beekeeping, camellia, dahlia, Masters Gardner’s rose, shell, tropical fish, turtle, ikebana, rare fruit growers, California native plants. etc.

So if champs have an interest in a particular horticultural area, more than likely they will find a local society related to those plants.  (Reference:  website –  member societies.  I know there are societies in Newport Beach, Saddleback, Palos Verdes, etc.)

“Also, our junior college offers a number of adult ed classes from ceramics, watercolor, computer classes, etc.”

                                       And the two men  

1 Joel, responding to last week’s eNewsletter: “Get a dog…” LOL!  I’ve heard this more times than I can count and bless your heart if that companionship makes you happy. I observe many people give up on human love because it’s difficult. You have to compromise. Some turn to grandchildren, some to pets. Fine.  However, please remember to mention the latest cute thing your “love” did once, and only once, in conversation lest you become a tedious, tiresome bore.”

And speaking of dogs, remember last week the picture of the liter of Labs with Reggie the chocolate Lab on the left. Well, Tracy and Hawk picked him up in Phoenix and brought him to his new home in California.

   Reggie is getting used to his new surroundings

And this next email, surprised me, in a pleasant and positive way. Kevin, Publisher, Mature Focus newspaper, emailed, “I just wanted to let you know that your comment about you not writing in any Iowa papers isn’t exactly true. I run your column in our paper, Mature Focus. We are located in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. It’s very likely that Marcey read your column in our publication while in Iowa.”

Kevin is right, I do write for them. Mature Focus is a mighty fine publication. Laid out beautifully, interesting articles, nice color scheme. Kevin’s column is on page 4, my column is on page 40. Check it out.

Mature Focus website

Senior dating advice from senior singles

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – July 13, 2018 Tom’s readers offer senior dating advice

Each week, I receive emails from Champs. Most of your emails land in my inbox on Fridays, after the eNewsletter is published earlier that day. A few more arrive on Saturdays and Sundays. The rest of the week, a few still trickle in.

Most emails contain comments that pertain to that week’s newsletter topic. But not always. There are times when a Champ just wants to vent. It could be about a relationship issue, or how hard it is at our age to meet someone compatible, or any number of topics that pertain to senior dating and relationships. Often, Champs seek advice or want opinions from other Champs. And sometimes senior dating advice from senior singles is given as well.

I try to respond to every email, but occasionally one falls through the cracks, which is why on occasion I review older emails, to see what I overlooked. This week I reviewed comments that have come in over the last three months. There were some interesting ones that I decided to share with you today.

So, in effect, it’s the Champs who are writing today’s newsletter; I’m just the editor (and I do add a comment or two). As I’ve often said, I am impressed with our Champs’ intelligence, experience, sensitivity and caring for other people.

 3 responses to the “Home alone with only dogs for company” newsletter

Helen wrote, “I was home alone with two cats before Phil came into my life. Now, there is an old dog and a bratty cat in our small family. The dog’s name is Rowdy! He’s a rescue from 2007, black and white, long-hair Chihuahua. but looks like a Papillion other than he has the short legs. And he lives up to his name!

“Thank goodness Phil is an animal lover. Otherwise he would not have been my ‘match.’”

Christine Baumgartner: “I think I started reading your column from the beginning. And I only sent you nice letters.”

Tom’s comment: Christine was referring to the women who asked, after reading my first column, “Who is this sniveling puke?” and “Get the boy a crying towel.”

Christine is right, she only sent nice letters; that’s the type of person she is and why she is such an accomplished relationship counselor. She has great empathy for people and has always contributed helpful, positive advice in a nice manner.

Gordon, an avid flyfisherman: “Enjoyed your newsletter this morning (“Home alone with only dogs for company”) and thought I would send you one impression of another writer; although I am not a writer for publication.

During the last two years of life with my wife, I too turned to writing as a therapy and escape from the burdens and emotions of care taking a loved one during her end of life. As I progress through the later years of life and evolve to being single, seeking a life-long partner, retired, and living alone, I have found some comfort at times to again write.

I continue to write letters, stories and journal entries of what life is and to later read them to see my emotions and feelings at that time. Not for publication, but for release from ill feeling, voicing joy of good times, and lessons to be learned.

For me, this is and has become therapy and lessons to learn by. As I look back and read what I was feeling at another time I can see how I was wrong, right, happy, or what made me not so happy.

“Yes, writing is therapy and continues today.”

Comment to Gordon: As a writer, I could not have said it better. By writing things down, you can look back and see—and understand—what and why you were feeling the way you were feeling at that time, and how your thinking has changed since then. Yes, writing is therapy.

                   3 Champs comment on downsizing

Jack of All Trades, “Pat’s letter (Pat Buttress column from two weeks ago) and her mother’s letter were very touching. Thanks for sharing them. An even bigger thanks to you for broaching the subject of senior downsizing. I can’t tell you how much distress this topic has caused me, and I am NOT downsizing.

The mere mention of the word (‘Have you thought of downsizing?’) implies that I am not living right and strikes me as critical. (Usually the people commenting have not downsized either).

My reasons for not wanting to downsize include that I can’t think of anything more depressing. I live in my house, struggle with arranging all the maintenance tasks that come up. I have no kids. And you know what? This house is my HOME and contains many reminders of good times. I have a close guy-friend, since being widowed— and he’s NOT trying to get me to ‘downsize.’

“Good to get this off my chest.”

Comment from Tom: I agree, senior downsizing may not be for everyone. But, I hope people who don’t want to downsize at least clean out the clutter. In Dana Point, there was a famous local writer named Doris Walker. In her later years, she acquired so much writing clutter, that the firemen were unable to save her and her husband from their burning home because of all the clutter in the way.

Bill, Dallas, Texas, “Regarding senior downsizing: I have found that if I take one section of the house at a time, I am better off than trying to do a lot at one time. For instance, it took me a week to clean out the garage and throw away boxes full of memories I had saved. I try to break up the process to give myself an emotional re-charge before starting on another section of the house. This is a time-consuming effort, besides being an emotional effort.”

Comment from Tom: Bill is a senior swimmer for the Masters of South Texas swim club, located in San Antonio. Bill went to a swim meet at Texas A&M last weekend. He said, “Had a pretty good meet. Won 4 individual events (50, 100, 200 and 400-meter freestyle) plus was on three winning relays. About the only good thing about being 81 is the lack of competition. The meet was in a 50-meter pool in College Station, Texas.”

 Members of the Masters of South Texas swim club. Tom’s brother Bill is in back row, right of center, next to tall guy, yellow t-shirt, just below Texas state flag. This is one of most accomplished seniors swim clubs in the world. Photo courtesy of Masters of South Texas

Bill and his relay teammates hold many world records for their age bracket. How do I know all this? Bill is my brother.

Terry and Daeng, “After 10 years together traveling back and forth twice a year between Thailand and the USA, we are downsizing and moving totally to Thailand. It is a very emotional time as we are going from a house I have lived in for over 20 years down to four suitcases. Well, maybe five suitcases and a 4″ shipping tube for some oil paintings that we are taking off the wood frames. I think what is helping is the old Amish teaching of “Less is better.”

                                      Where to look for love?

Where can I go to meet someone is the most difficult question I have no answer for (especially in Iowa)

Marcey emailed, “I just read a column you wrote in an Iowa magazine for over 50. I’m in Iowa for the summer, live in Florida, a widow for five years, 70, and thinking about enjoying a companion! Where do I start?”

Tom’s comment: I’m puzzled. I’m wondering how my column appeared in an Iowa magazine? I don’t write for any Iowa magazines. And then, there’s the Iowa part of Marcey’s question. I mean no disrespect for Iowa but have two recollections about the state of Iowa I wanted to share.

I remember when Andy Rooney did a CBS TV special, on April 20, 1976, called, “Andy Rooney Goes to Dinner,” which featured the finest restaurants across America. He added humor to his comments. In the special, Rooney said he included Iowa in his search for great restaurants, but, it ended up being a non-stop trip across the state. So, seeking a mate in fine-dining restaurants in Iowa isn’t recommended.

In the mid-1980s, I was selling specialized computer hardware and tendency-analysis software to athletic departments of major universities. I was fortunate to get appointments at both Iowa State University, located at Ames, and the University of Iowa, located in Iowa City. I got these appointments because of contacts I had within the Athletic Department at the University of Michigan, my alma mater.

I drove between Ames and Iowa City, 137 miles; it took a little over two hours. Driving those two hours, I was able to hear Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard sing “Poncho and Lefty” on the car radio 18 times by flipping around all the country stations on the dial. I didn’t listen to any talk show hosts discussing how to meet men on that trip because nearly all the stations were country.

So, I don’t know what to tell Marcey regarding where to meet a senior companion in Iowa. Maybe she should resume her search when she returns to Florida in the autumn, where there are a lot more, older single men than in Iowa. But, the problem is: there are also many, many more, older single women in Florida, so the ratio of single women to single men is very large there. What a dilemma: finding love in Iowa or finding love in Florida?

If Marcey is willing to get out and meet new people in Iowa, she just might meet a companion. Her chances may be better there than meeting a man in Florida. We never know where or when we’re going to find love. Be yourself, smile, have fun and Go Hawkeyes and Go Cyclones.

And to tie today’s eNewsletter together, we finish with Champ Doug, who ends today’s eNewsletter with comments and advice:

“I can’t thank you enough for your unstinting efforts to bring life and love after 50 to the 50-and-over set. I look forward to your message every week.

I’m closing in on my 80th birthday without a Serious Romance in the last twenty years or so, but I’m still enjoying the hunt and whatever other joys life may bring.

“For anyone out there who thinks they’re missing out on love, I have one bit of advice: Get a dog!”

Tom’s comment: In an amazing moment of timing, at the end of editing the newsletter, as I was reading Doug’s last sentence yesterday morning, a text arrived on my phone at that exact moment. It was from a friend of mine and his wife, both of whom I’ve known for 25 years. Tomorrow, they pick up their new dog in Arizona, a chocolate Lab. He sent me a photo of the litter; their dog, “Reggie the chocolate Lab,” is on the left. This picture will melt your heart. It did mine.

            Reggie is on the left. My friends Hawk and Tracy pick him up tomorrow

Tom Blake 24 years of writing columns

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – July 6, 2018

There are two parts to today’s eNewsletter. Tom Blake columnist.

Part One – Home alone with only dogs for company

People often ask where I learned to write, expecting to hear a reply like “At journalism school.” Or, they ask, “Have you always been a writer?”

I reply: “No journalism school. I’ve been writing for 24 years. I learned to write sitting on barstools, while trying to meet women after my divorce.”

That answer probably needs an explanation.

On Christmas Eve, 1993, my wife of six years, and her two boys, decided they’d had enough of me. While I was in Santa Rosa, California, visiting my 82-year-old mom, they took what furniture and belongings they wanted and moved out of my life.

I had no clue that was going down. Oh, I knew we had some issues to discuss, but most couples do. I found out the morning after Christmas when my wife telephoned me at Mom’s and told me.

On the drive home, I had a notepad in my lap. When you’ve got nine hours to drive, a million thoughts go through your mind.

As best I could, I jotted down my thoughts. The first item: What about my dogs, Amy and Kira? Were they gone? Were they still there? Had they been fed or left water in two days?

The next item: Why did she do it without us discussing it first?

By trip’s end, I had a mishmash of notes on the notepad. My writing career had begun, although I didn’t know it.

A month later, while serving sandwiches during lunchtime at Tutor and Spunky’s, my Dana Point, California, deli, in front of customers and employees, I got served. With divorce papers! And, as I was doing every night, I went home and jotted down my thoughts in what then had become a divorced-man’s diary. That divorce turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Shortly after the divorce, at age 54, I decided to start dating again, thinking I’d be king of the hill. Oh my gosh, reality hit harder than I had ever imagined. As I sat on barstools at Brio, Hennessey’s and other Orange County singles’ hangouts, I’d add the dating misadventures into the diary. On those barstools is where I learned to write.

After five months, I put the notes from the diary into a short story. I edited the material 25 times. It was about 75 pages. I thought, maybe I could get the story published.

I sent query letters to The New York TimesPlayboy Magazine and Esquire. No response. The Orange County Register recommended I contact the Dana Point News, the Register’s community paper in the city where I lived.

After reading my short story, the two women editors—Sherrie Good and Dixie Redfearn–agreed to a meeting at their office.

At the meeting, their first question: “What do you have in mind?”

I had no idea, so I just blurted out, “Maybe I could do a dating-after-50 column from the male-point-of-view.”

They said, “That’s what we were thinking. You are whining and complaining so much about the cost of dating, and being rejected by all sorts of women, we feel the single, middle-aged women of Orange County will have a field day reading your woe-is-me adventure.”

“Home alone, with only dogs for company,” was the title of my first newspaper column. It appeared July 7, 1994–24 years ago tomorrow–in the South County Lifestyles section of four Orange County Register community newspapers.

Sherrie and Dixie were right about the vitriolic responses from women.

The first comment was, “Who is this sniveling puke?”

The second: “Get the boy a crying towel.”

And the third: “He complains that younger women won’t go out with him. It’s a wonder any woman will go out with him”

Welcome to the dating trenches, Tom.

Soon the column appeared in 10 OC Register community papers. And then for eight years, the Register itself, the nation’s 20th largest newspaper, as well as the community papers. Opportunity had arisen from adversity.

Seven years ago, I was blessed to join the team at Picket Fence Media—the publishers of the Dana Point TimesSan Clemente Times and The Capistrano Dispatch, in south Orange County, California. I am very lucky to have this incredible opportunity to write for newspapers that are still printed. How so?

On Tuesday, July 3, the Boston Globe newspaper published an article by Evan Horowitz that stated, “The newspaper industry has declined faster and fallen further than some of the most famously collapsing sectors of the American economy. Coal mining, steel manufacturing, fishing.” Since 2000, newspaper employment has fallen by more than 60 percent…

“Nearly 300 English-language daily newspapers have disappeared from the US landscape in the past 20 years….Florida, California, New Jersey, and Michigan have each lost roughly 70 percent of their newspaper jobs…In San Diego, newspaper employment is down 83 percent since 2002.” So, I’m very fortunate to still have my articles printed by functioning newspapers, published by hard-working Americans.

And even though this is off-topic, I have to say this: I was devastated with the mass shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland, last week. So senseless. Each of the five killed reminded me of someone I know. 

The number of columns and eNewsletters I’ve written in 24 years—approaching 4,000.

Why was that divorce 24 years ago the best thing that ever happened to me? It launched a writing career that has been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. It brought two appearances on the Today Show and an appearance on Good Morning America.

And more importantly, it opened the door for me to meet Greta, a partner with whom I’ve shared so many incredible experiences in the 20 years we’ve been together, I don’t have time to write about them all.

Have things changed on the dating scene in 24 years? Not much. Except now, instead of focusing on dating after 50, it includes dating after 60, 70, 80, and even 90. Same old issues—hard to meet someone compatible and one of the biggest issues single seniors still deal with is loneliness.

Adversity leads to opportunity

Often, adversity leads to opportunity. For those who have suffered a major setback in life, try–as hard as it is at the time–to look for that seed of opportunity to soothe the adversity pain. It’s out there somewhere, you just need to keep an eye out for it and follow your instinct. It will help you heal.


Downsizing can be difficult

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – June 29, 2018

Downsizing can be difficult – A touching discovery

As people age, many try to downsize, rid their homes of clutter, and simplify their lives. Many do this task so their children, heirs, or beneficiaries won’t have to tackle it later. Some downsize for other reasons. For example, our Champ Pat, from Orange, California, wrote this week: “I am sorting, packing and staging my home to sell.”

Often, it’s not an easy task. Cleaning out one’s living spaces inevitably uncovers lots of memories. People say, “I can’t throw this or that away.” They stop and reflect on the past. Could be an old photo or letter or memories of camp or childhood friends.

That happened to Pat, who added: “In doing this, I found a handwritten note from my Mom as she went through the grieving process over my Dad’s death in 1994. I have typed it and saved it to my computer in case the handwritten pages get lost.”

Our Champ, Pat Buttress Orange, California

Pat shared her mom’s letter with me because years ago, when Pat hosted a city of Orange/Time-Warner cable TV program titled, “Orange View,” (which she did for 16 years), she interviewed me and had told me the story of her mom, RoseMary, who had been widowed, and how she subsequently found love again, with an old friend named Harry.

This week, when I read RoseMary’s 1994 letter, it choked me up. It made me reflect on my life. I decided to share portions of the letter with you today, as so many of our Champs will relate to RoseMary’s words.

At the end of the letter, Pat adds four short paragraphs of comments, which are significant for widowed people who find love again.

WARNING: This letter, written in 1994, is heart-wrenching. Have a tissue nearby.

Memories of a Cherished Loss
By RoseMary A. Buttress

January 31, 1994

“I’ve just returned from Sierra Vista Hospital where George died. At this moment, I’m in a daze, I followed the doctor into emergency and went in to say my final good-bye. I tried to kiss you one final time and tell you how much you’ve meant to me. You were a wonderful and devoted husband and father…always there with your happy, positive thoughts and your beautiful smile.

I can’t believe I’ll never hear your voice again. You looked so happy and peaceful I wanted to lay down beside you and go with you. Unfortunately, I cannot, but just as you always told me, I know you will always be with both Pat and me and sometime in the future we’ll all be together.

I hope you know how much I will always miss you and cherish all the time we had together. You gave me identity and worth, self-worth from my 18th birthday until now. However, I think I’m strong enough to go alone until we meet again. Vaya con Dios, My Love!

It is now after midnight and Audrey & Beth have left and Pat will come home tomorrow.  But, what shall I do now…it is difficult to lay down in the bed and reach over for you and you are gone. I leave the lights on and hope I can go to sleep, I’m so tired.  Finally, I call Unity 24-hour call-in line. They are so kind, warm and understanding. The call is helpful and finally about three o’clock I fall asleep.

February 1, 1994

Pat returned home to Morro Bay, and we talked and waited for Gloria to arrive. It was nice to remember the good times we all shared and yes, the tears were there as well as the laughter.

Together we went to the Mortuary to make the arrangements you and I had agreed upon. It’s so final, and I’m drained of all feeling.  We are to pick up your ashes on Thursday.  I still can’t believe you are gone, but I can’t wish you back with your illness.

Thank goodness you were able to retain your dignity and intelligence until you died. You and I had such communication together and knew from the beginning we were in love and belonged with each other. We could read each other’s minds even across the room.

We were two halves that made a whole.  I was so proud to be your wife.  You were and are the light of my life. We are soul mates and I know you are somewhere watching and waiting for me.

As I write this, I’m reminded of how often you and I tried to make the world a more colorful and happy place. We’ve had our share of problems, but we never tried to unload them on our friends. We’ve always felt that laughter and joy was the way to go. Thank you, Dear.

About a week later

It’s Friday and Pat and I are driving to her house for a while. It hasn’t been a week since you died, and I miss you so. I wake up with tears and try and remember your courage and love of life even with your pain of the last years.

I still see you every morning with your wonderful smile and laughing eyes. You were always so positive and cheerful, and everyone felt better just knowing you.

I don’t think you had an enemy in the world and the tributes and notes I’ve received are heartwarming. Of course, I knew you best and had the time of my life with you. You were my rock of Gibraltar and made the world a wonderful and loving place.

Several days and months later

It’s almost your birthday. Your 88th! You and I were so hoping you could live through 2000 so we could be together for the turn of this century. It doesn’t seem fair to date anyone, I just want you with me, I’m so missing everything we shared, and we were lucky to have had it all. No one can replace you.

I have a clear picture of you and Pat chatting together on a bench in Solvang on my 70th birthday. I wish I had taken a picture of you both. It was less than 3 weeks later when you died, and my tears are with me every day.

I am sure you are with Pat and me daily and I hope wherever you are, it is beautiful and wonderful. There must be golf to share and many of your friends with you. I still hear your laughter and your joy of golf…both are happy memories.”

Pat’s Comments:

“This was the last of what my Mom wrote. She did as she and Dad talked about before he died, she reached out to Harry Wagner, her Roller Skating Dance Competition partner from when she was in her teens.

She and Harry finally met at Pacific Grove in northern CA and in October 1994 they married with my blessings at the Elderberry Inn, outside of Yosemite.  They were married for almost 11 years until Mom’s death May 2, 2005.

I knew Mom would never forget my Dad, I know she is with him now…but I was also very happy for her and Harry…to have each other as companions and to watch over each other in case of health issues.

I will never understand the resistance of adult children to have their parents remarry…the other parent is not coming back so I believe letting the living parent make a new life is what God expects of the remaining parent, and, of the children.”

Tom’s comment: Thanks to Pat for sharing her mom’s lovely letter. This story reminds us that remarriage can be wonderful for widowed people. Pat is a seasoned Public Affairs professional, who was most recently the north and north-central Orange County Public Affairs Region Manager for Southern California Edison (SCE).  Her career includes 20 years as Governmental/Public Affairs Manager.

Pat is the Chair of the Orange Chamber of Commerce (membership 500+ businesses). To read more about this fascinating woman, her website is:

Senior online dating challenges

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – June 22, 2018

Today’s eNewsletter has 3 parts

Part 1 – Is Barb being too fussy in dating men?
Part 2 – Information on the Finding Love After 50 Facebook page
Part 3 – An upbeat, update from a West Texas Champ

Part 1 – Is Barb being too fussy in dating men?

I admit that I don’t spend much time viewing the Finding Love After 50 Facebook group posts. I prefer to let members do their thing and have discussions among each other. But I do monitor it from time to time. This Facebook group is a closed group, which means I approve of anyone who wants to join. In this way, I try to keep the riff-raff out of the membership.

As of Wednesday, there were 501 members. I do review the posts from time to time and remove some posts that I feel aren’t appropriate to our group. Occasionally, a member will post too many cutesy little signs or sayings as if the site were his or her own personal site, so I remove the posts. Such has been the case recently where a member posts something every day, which can be a big turnoff to others.

Sometimes, I will see a post that stimulates discussion among the members. That happened a few days ago when Barb stated that she was thinking of giving up on senior online dating. She based her comment on experiences she’s had with four men while senior online dating, which she shared. She asked if she was being too fussy.

Senior Online Dating Challenges

Barb wrote, “I have been off and on dating sites since I was 60 and now I’m 79. One man I met online was an hour and a half away, we dated two months.

He wanted me to move in with him. I was in the middle of moving in with him, when he found out his daughter was getting divorced. He decided it was not a good idea for me to move in, because he was going to remodel his house and have his daughter and her two daughters move into his house.

Plus, he didn’t like television so he wanted me to wear earphones when I had my television on. Well, that was the end of that relationship.

The second guy I met invited me out New Year’s Eve to a dance. He had a funny little step in his dance that was hard for me to catch onto. He kept telling me all night how well his ex-wife and he could dance together.

While walking me to my door, he put gum in his mouth, and in a minute, he said, “Oh my God, I just lost one of my teeth.” Well that was the end of that man. I just saw him recently, which was a year later, and the tooth is still missing.

The third guy I met seemed nice and we had fun together. My sister lived near me. When her husband was dying, I went to be with her the night her husband was passing and this guy got upset and told everybody I gave him up for my sister. So that was the end of him.

A couple of weeks ago, I met a fourth man online. We exchanged messages. He asked for my email address, so we could email instead of being on the dating site.

But I couldn’t get to know him as all he talked about was that he had lost his wife five years ago to cancer. He wanted to meet a woman who would make his house a home and be his special woman. He wanted me to forsake all others to be only with him.

I tried to talk about the future and what it would be like if we got together. It always went right back to the kind of woman he was looking for and how he wanted her to be his own and love only him.

So now, I’m giving up on trying to find someone. It’s too hard. I think I would rather go it alone. it seems like I can’t find anybody. I don’t know maybe I’m too fussy. What do you think?”

I share what some other members said in response to Barb’s post.

8 Facebook members’ responses to Barb’s Facebook post:

Joel said, “Dating and Mating is just plain hard, usually a long series of meeting people who don’t work out. That’s as good as it gets in my experience and it can lead to a constructive, loving relationship. Each person you meet is a learning experience about yourself and the others who are available.

The population of those still alone late in life contains a high percentage of dysfunction – that’s why we are alone.

It’s like shoes, you just keep trying until you get someone you like, that fits and is comfortable. You don’t quit just because you try on shoes that don’t fit.

I spent 12 years starting at age 54 rejecting and being rejected. I finally realized I had to change, and did, and have been in a wonderful relationship for 5+ years that gets better every day. I have a friend who found love at age 80.

Whenever I hear a story from someone who is discouraged, I suggest they look in the mirror because that’s where the solution is.

I love this part of the Serenity Prayer: May I have the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can and the wisdom to know which one that is.”

Cheryl: “With or without a man, isolating yourself and becoming a couch potato isn’t fulfilling unless you really enjoy that. I find there are enjoyable things to do every day that I want to do (plenty of activities at the community center; movies; classes; visiting people; taking walks on the boardwalk, etc.). At home I have stacks of good books to read, music, and my favorite tv shows. Being without a man isn’t a punishment – there’s still life all around us!”

Cheryl added: “It sounds like you need a dating coach to help you select a man of your caliber.”

Karla: “I’ve stopped looking. I wasted 7 years of my life with a man who turned out to be a pathological liar, a sex addict, a porn addict, and was bisexual. I never saw any of it…he was that good (at hiding the behavior). He died a year and a half ago. I cared for him, doing what a Visiting Angel would have done for $80/day. I don’t trust my instincts any more. Today, I’m venturing out to a luncheon with women. I have isolated myself and became a couch potato.”

Tricia: “Barb, my experiences are similar to yours: I have been trying to meet someone for 10 years – it’s been that long since my last long-term relationship ended. I took a part-time job last year – in addition to my full-time job at a local home improvement company – hoping to meet someone with no results.

I am active on a couple of volunteer boards, I have joined some groups. I feel as though the men I’ve met are just looking for sex and I am not going to just jump into bed with someone.

I’ve met a few widowers who are just looking for someone to ‘make them happy again’ – I’ve met an ex- convict, I’ve met a few who are not healthy, a lot who have no money and a lot who are looking for someplace to live.

I will be 60 at the end of this month. I am not sure there’s anyone out there for me but that’s ok – I have a good life and look forward to planning my retirement in the next couple of years.”

Phyllis: “I don’t know that I could ever move in with someone after knowing them for only 2 months– I might want to — but I know how bad my judgement (can be).”

Jeanie, “Keep on keeping on! One day you’ll have a good story to tell. These men are just part of the old story – create a new one with you as the center, standing strong for what you want.”

Carolyn: “Please don’t give up! However, do continue to make new friends (men and women), join clubs and enjoy ‘me’ time. You don’t have to settle, just enjoy life! If you had sat home alone during the past few years, you would not have such an illustrious story to share with us.”

Curtis: “Not too fussy, sounds like what I am finding in looking for a woman. I list I am outdoors, walking hiking & traveling around the area, the woman that contacted me has allergies and can’t be outside, or can’t hike or walk any distances, so why contact me, and then complain I am too active? Why am I not home more? I know what’s at home, nothing.”

Part 2 – More about our Finding Love After 50 Facebook Group

The name of our Facebook group is Finding Love After 50. If you want to join, you can apply on that Facebook page and I review your information. I need to know a bit about the people who want to join, to protect our 501 members from adding people who have ulterior motives that wouldn’t be beneficial to the group.

Part 3 – An upbeat, Champ update

Last year, we published a column about Larry Coats, a West Texas, gentleman, rancher, and retired US Army Major. He had looked for love online, hoping to find a woman who’d be willing to leave the big city, bright-lights world, to move to be with him on his ranch.

Yesterday, Larry sent an update: “Thought I would just drop a note to let you know that Ellen and I are approaching our one-year wedding anniversary (13 July) and can safely say that we are both very, very happy.

I was initially afraid that she would have trouble adjusting from big city life to life in a small town, but that was never a problem. Anyway, guess things have a way of working out–provided both sides know that it still takes patience and honesty.”

                              Ellen, 53, and Larry, 65, met on 

To read the entire August 18, 2017, article about Ellen and Larry, follow this link:

Adult children affecting relationships

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – June 15, 2018

Senior dating challenge: adult children affecting relationships – Part 2

Last week, we shared Diane’s story about breaking up with her man friend of five years because of his adult children, mainly a 26-year-old daughter who said to her dad, “I won’t have a problem with Diane as long as she knows I am the number-one woman in your life.”

Not one Champ disagreed with Diane’s decision to end the relationship. Apparently, adult children affecting relationships is a bigger issue than I realized. Today, we share two other women’s stories that fall under the “interference from adult children” umbrella.

  Lee Ann’s boyfriend’s children dictate his life: senior dating and adult children

Lee Ann wrote, “I am in a domestic partnership of 10 years that is breaking up because of his adult children. They are 25, 27 and 30. None of them is completely financially independent even though we paid for their college educations and each of them has lived here at least once since they graduated high school.

The oldest daughter is the real problem. She has borderline personality disorder but refuses to seek therapy. She hasn’t had a long-term relationship in 12 years. She hangs on her father when we go out, sits on his lap when no one is around, and recently told him that she won’t come to our house even if I’m not here because he has to “Negotiate his relationship with her.”

Neither he nor I know what that means, and she won’t define it. I am tired of watching this strange dance they do. He seems to be completely dependent upon her moods and desires. She demands that he take her to restaurants every week.

We live on a small teacher’s retirement income and are tapped out. He has overdrawn our accounts five times in the last three months due to indulging his children. We can’t pay down our mortgage because he gives them money behind my back. The two oldest have bigger incomes than we do. But they never treat their retired father. I have a small business, but it doesn’t bring in much extra.

I can’t stay with someone who will allow his children to dictate his life. And who won’t parent them. My adult sons understand our situation. They treat him with respect.

His adult daughter treats me like she’s his girlfriend and I’m an interloper. Years ago, I thought she and I got along great, but she told me I was mistaken, and she resents me.

My advice to anyone considering dating someone with adult kids is meet them sooner rather than later. Assess the situation before you fall deeply in love. She was away at college the first three years we were together; I didn’t know the extent and damage that would be done. I have a step mother myself and at times I don’t adore her, but I totally respect my father’s right to choose whomever he loves and marries.”

                            Empty-nester Terri seeks advice

Terri emailed, “I’ve enjoyed your articles for years. I’ve learned a lot about compromise, communication and more. I’m hoping you can give me guidance.

I have been divorced for over 12 years. I am friendly with my ex who is the father of my two children that are recently out of college and have moved out. I am very close with my children.

I am 55 and am lucky to have found and dated for four years a widower, 61, who I love. His wife died of breast cancer eight years ago. He is truly the sweetest, smartest, most caring man. We have so much in common and are best friends. He waited until his early 40s to marry and have a child.

He has a 17-year-old, highly functioning autistic son. When I first met them, my boyfriend did absolutely everything for his son including grabbing a spoon for him, tying his shoes etc., things his son could have done himself. Over the years, with my encouragement, his son now ties his own shoes, takes showers regularly and I’ve even taught him how to cook basic mac and cheese and other dishes.

I persuaded my boyfriend to send his son to a special-needs school when the boy was entering high school. He did, and his son is now blossoming. The son is finally learning to read. He has friends and even went to the prom. I taught him how to slow dance. His son and I get along very well. My boyfriend has told me he’s never heard his son laugh as much as he does around me.

The issue is my boyfriend doesn’t work with his son. He expects the school or me to be the teachers. He is very passive and overly spoils his son by letting him lay around and buying him things. His son has no chores and is allowed to be very lazy. I have stayed there many weekends watching his son wear the same pajamas and play on the computer from Friday night until Sunday night only stopping to eat and sleep.

Now that my last child has graduated college, and all my kids are out on their own, my boyfriend wants me to move in with him and his son.

I am afraid if I do this, I will be solely responsible for raising his son. Not financially because my boyfriend is very well off. I raised my own children as a single parent and don’t want to take on the responsibility of doing it again, especially with a special-needs child whose father is overly complacent.

My biggest concern is that I know my boyfriend will continue to over compensate for his son for whom he has zero expectation. I believe it will all fall on my shoulders. He is in his 60s and I’m afraid it’s too late for him to change. He once told me he wants someone to take over raising his son.

I am in a good stage in my life. I love this man and enjoy our time together, which is mostly a party of three with his son always with us. We spend every weekend together and sometimes have a week-night date. I don’t feel the need to get married. Living apart and dating (a LAT relationship) is enough for me right now.

He is questioning our future because I’ve expressed my concerns about moving-in together and me going back in time to raise another child. His son will be living with him for many more years or maybe even forever. I don’t want to sound selfish, but I feel he is being selfish expecting me to fast forward and take on this role which he has been passive in.

Is it crazy for me to believe at our age we can just keep dating and live separately? It’s been working for us. I believe this is all surfacing because I am now an empty nester; an empty nester looking for advice.”

Tom’s comments: For Terri’s situation, I turned to my partner Greta–a special-education teacher for 31 years—for advice. Greta advised Terri to have the boyfriend get outside help for the son. There are many programs that could help him. Terri should not take the burden on herself.

Not all relationships where adult children are in the mix have problems. Look at these happy moms and their children.

Photo by Tom: Tom and two of his former deli employees–Kelly O and Kelly D–with their children. The employees of Tutor and Spunky’s were one big happy family (most of the time). 

I have no children. Greta has four children, eight grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. I have been fortunate. I have always felt complete support from her offspring about our relationship. And now that we are older, her children have personally expressed appreciation to me for watching out for their mom.

And while Greta and I share expenses, we have kept our assets separate. Perhaps that’s one reason her family hasn’t been concerned about our relationship, their inheritance has never been an issue with them. They only care about their mom’s happiness and well-being. I’m a lucky guy.

Note from Tom:

On my website, there are 12 articles I have previously written about how adult children can affect a relationship. Likely, Diane’s story will become number 13 and this story number 14. You can read those articles by following this link.

Senior dating and adult children

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – June 8, 2016

Dealing with a boyfriend’s adult children – Senior dating baggage

Senior dating isn’t easy. Senior dating with adult children involved isn’t easy. I hear that comment often from single seniors who aren’t in a relationship. And yet people who are fortunate enough to meet someone tell me that it’s not always a bowl of cherries either. Some of us carry more baggage that a 757.

Too much baggage can be a deal-breaker.

                  Excess baggage @ Hotel courtyard in India
Photo taken by Tom – November 2016

Issues created by adult children of one or both partners can fall under the excess baggage category. Such is the case with Diane, from whom we hear today.

Diane emailed, “I am a divorced, professional woman, age 62, considered attractive, fit, with many friends and interests. Two years ago, I began dating a man, 58, who had been legally separated for five years. He has three adult children (two are married).

His wife was bi-polar, to which he attributed their marital difficulties. Whenever talk of finalizing the divorce came up, there was always some issue as to why it couldn’t be done at that time. None of the reasons seemed viable to me.

One reason he gave was that if he served the papers during the time of his son’s upcoming wedding, his wife might make a scene at the wedding! I was only half-heartedly invited to attend after a year of seriously dating him. I chose not to go.

During the months of dating, it seemed there was always some need or drama happening with the family, especially with his daughter, 26. He admitted she said, ‘I won’t have a problem with Diane as long as she knows I am the number-one woman in your life.’

We have broken up several times because I felt he had (and still does) have boundary issues with his children and his ex, even though the divorce was finalized. He claims to not be as enmeshed with them as I say, but I feel he hides things from me so as not to upset me, and to present a different picture of what is truly going on.

We are not dating currently, but we speak with and text each other. He doesn’t see the problem and thinks because he finally divorced, which, by the way, was motivated by a fire his ex had, in which he feared she would go after him for more money, which was her tendency according to him.

Money is another issue with him and I get the feeling he also sees me as a subsidizer since he financially supports the daughter.

I like many qualities about this man, but I don’t feel I could ever get to the next level with him due to the dynamics of the family. Every time I think it can work I become once again frustrated and angry. I would love your advice and the opinion of Champs.”

Tom wrote to Diane:

“I am certain that our Champs will have opinions about your situation, as many of them have had to deal with adult children of their significant others. Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • The 26-year-old daughter appears to be very immature, spoiled and selfish. Have you asked yourself, “Will that situation ever change?”
  • You have broken up several times over boundary issues with his children. Why do you think that would be different going forward?
  • Of course, there are qualities about him you like, you would not keep trying with him if you didn’t. But…are the qualities enough to overcome the other obstacles? You answered that question by saying you could not go to the ‘next level.’
  • So, why keep putting yourself through this agony? I think you know the answer.
  • Not to mention the money issue. You will never be happy feeling you are subsidizing the daughter who wants to be number one.
  • “And remember, while you are spending your precious time dealing with these issues, it is taking you away from time that might lead to meeting someone new who has less baggage.”

Diane’s response back to Tom

“I am a mother to two healthy, stable and mature young men. I am very proud of both sons; we have a close, loving relationship. I wanted to share this with Champs so they know I understand the challenges of having adult children accept new partners in our lives. Fortunately, my sons have been open, honest and mature and want only the best for me–which is for me to be happy.

Something you wrote struck a chord: I was spending my ‘precious’ time on a relationship that not only was leading nowhere, but, it was keeping me from possibly meeting someone who doesn’t have these issues and who would be able to enter fully into a relationship.

I now see this investment of time, energy and resources (literally) was much more draining than I even realized! I think we often hang on longer than we should in relationships because we are afraid of leaving something for nothing. Having repeated this mistake all too often, I now know having the so-called ‘nothing’ is far better – in fact, it’s a gift! It’s time to invest in and love myself.

One other thing – I just learned the daughter is moving back in with my now ex-boyfriend because she had ‘issues’ with her roommate. More proof that I made the right decision!

As a result of walking away from this relationship once and for all, I am learning to play golf, do the tango and am now signing up for a writing class.

And having walked away 10 years ago from a 27-year marriage, which was not only causing me emotional pain, but affecting my health as well, I am choosing not to waste any more precious time, nor will I settle. I deserve better.”

Did Diane make the right decision?

On my website, there are 12 articles I have previously written about how adult children can affect a relationship. Likely, Diane’s story will become number 13. You can read those articles by following this link.