Stresses of long-distance relationships

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – May 27 2022

by Tom Blake

The stresses of long-distance relationships

(Note from Tom: Today’s eNewsletter has been edited for length, clarity, and controversial material)

The pandemic has been hard on senior long-distance relationships. Travel restrictions made face-to-face meetings difficult. And when the partners lived in different countries, getting together was almost impossible.

I heard of relationships where one person lived in Canada and the person lived across the border in the USA and were unable to see each other for one to two years, due to border-crossing restrictions.

Did the long-distance relationships within the USA survive the test of time being away from each other? Recently, we wrote about the frustration a woman in Illinois expressed about not being able to see her California man friend more often. She wondered if she was wasting her time. They had seen each other only a couple of times in the last year.

And now that restrictions are easing, what’s happening to international long-distance relationships? Larry, a Champ, a friend, and a former Dana Point neighbor of mine from 30 years ago—he’s now 82– emailed last week regarding the status of his international long-distance relationship.

I mentioned his situation in previous eNewsletters when he said nine of his scheduled trips to the Philippines to see Emy, his woman friend, had been canceled.

Larry wrote last week: “Many men have been interested in the lure of Asian women. I started an online investigation of these women and their countries a dozen years ago. I discovered there are two common denominators. They all want love and financial security.

“I chatted with many women online throughout the entire world. Many come from countries with different religions than mine. One country stood out above all others (The Philippines) for Catholicism and an English-speaking populace.

“At first glance, it was obvious that Philippine dating sites were not the way to go! Full of money scammers and women desperate to escape the poverty of The Philippines. So, I looked at other non-dating social sites. This is how I met Emy. We are now in our 7th happy year together.”

A few years ago, Larry went to the Philippines to be with Emy. Just before the pandemic arrived, he returned to the USA to attend to some personal matters. Then, after the pandemic spread, his return flight to Manila was canceled.

During 2000 and 2001, he had eight more reservations to fly to Manilla canceled. The Philippine government was strict about allowing people into the country. Larry expressed his frustration to me with both the Philippine government and the U.S. government and their travel restrictions. However, I understood those restrictive actions, which nearly every country instituted, in an attempt to protect the health of its residents.

Larry wrote: “Since March 2020 until recently, the Philippines and the USA governments have kept me from returning to The Philippines. The stress has been close to unbearable. It has taken a toll on my life, and I am now in a recuperative stage. It is going to take days, weeks, and perhaps longer to recover.

Love rekindles in PV

“To get Emy and I back together, I investigated 35-45 countries where Emy might be able to get a visa. I found only two—Ecuador and Mexico.  Ecuador seemed too far away in South America. And Mexico, which she chose, turned out to be difficult for her to enter. They required many documents and other severe travel restrictions for Filipinos! She endured a 3-day delay in Manila, but with help from friends plus 34 hours of travel time, we have been together again in Puerto Vallarta Mexico (PV) for over two weeks.”

When I read “Puerto Vallarta,” I was shocked. I had no idea that Larry and Emy had “PV” on their radar. However, that’s not so bad, in fact, it’s darned good. “PV” is a great city. Greta and I have visited and stayed there five times. We thoroughly enjoyed it.  

Emy and Larry (photo by Larry McCook)

Larry said, “What is it like here in Mexico with Emy? Life is better than good. She is the same lady who loved me in 2019: Sweet, kind, and caring. She never misses Mass, and it is great to hold hands together in Mass. She cooks three meals a day made from fresh food from the local market. Our apartment is so clean that a person could eat off the floor. She gives me a strong full back massage every day, and we take long walks every day.

“We live in a nice updated fully furnished 1 BR apartment including A/C and electricity for under $500 per month, which helps us save for rainy days.  Buses run every 5-10 minutes and it costs 50 US Cents to anywhere in the city. Supermarket pricing is close to the same in the US. The locals are friendly. We live across from a large sports park.”

Tom’s comment: I wonder what they will do? Will they remain in Mexico or return to the USA or the Philippines? I know he will let us know.

Their story is an example of how determination and true grit can keep love alive. More power to them.

I’d like to hear from other couples who are involved in long-distance relationships and how they made it through the pandemic and what obstacles they had to overcome.

5 tips for overcoming heartbreak

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – May 20, 2022

by Tom Blake – Columnist

A New You – 5 Tips for overcoming heartbreak (Love will find a way)

Growing old has many rewards: retirement, playing lots of golf, exercising at will, children are grown and usually married and grandchildren for you to enjoy. No more 9-to-5 working pressures. The list is endless.

However, as we age, we also experience loss. We lose loved ones through divorce, breakups, misunderstandings, and death. It’s not just losing a partner. We lose parents, siblings, and dear friends. We are dealt personal hardships. Perhaps we’ve been diagnosed and are dealing with a serious illness.

It’s life, it’s inevitable and it’s hard. When these things happen, we face a new challenge: overcoming our heartbreak and finding a new direction.

How do we do that? How do we become “The new you?”

In writing about senior dating and relationships for 28 years, here are five tips I’ve learned from readers on how to overcome heartbreak. One of the main themes of songs is heartbreak, and how to overcome it. Today, I’m including three songs that I feel can be helpful to get people through tough times and give them hope.

5 tips for overcoming heartbreak

1. It’s understandable and ok to be sad. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to be alone (for a time, but not for too long). One of my favorite songs from the 1970s was REM’s “Everybody Hurts.” In a nutshell, that song’s message is: “Everybody hurts sometimes. Hold on.” It’s a powerful song of hope and overcoming adversity. Link at end.

2. Remind yourself that healing takes time. It will sting for a while. In an interview April 21, 2022, on Good Morning America, Robin Roberts asked Magic Johnson (the photo above is of Magic Johnson with Greta Cohn and Tom Blake at Tom’s deli, Tutor and Spunky’s Deli in Dana Point, California, in 2009) how he overcame the news in 1991 that he had HIV. Magic said, “You realize you aren’t alone.” Being aware of this helped him become “A new you.”

The Bee Gees, the 1970s popular singing group was made up of three close-knit brothers. They had many hits, including, “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?” I saw an interview on TV recently with Barry Gibb, about that song and how he dealt with the loss of his three younger brothers, who died years apart. Maurice and Robin were members of the Bee Gees and Andy was much younger but not in the group.

Gibb was devastated. He said, “I moped around for months, there were highs and lows.”

My sisters and I lost my brother Bill a year ago January, it’s taken that long to not think about him every day. I’ve healed, I guess because I no longer daily reach for my phone to call him as I did for months after he passed. Again, healing takes time. And we will never forget.

3. Don’t try to go it alone. Have a support group, if only one or two people. Confide in them and talk to friends; be out socially, if possible. Try not to isolate yourself. Be around people by attending church, volunteering, and going to senior centers. Don’t be afraid to admit your pain.

4. Remind yourself that everything is going to be all right in due time. It may not seem like it when adversity happens. Be as positive as you can. In 1976, Neil Diamond co-wrote and sang live one time the song “Dry Your Eyes,” in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King because so many people were mourning. The song was on the “Beautiful Noise” album. He did not sing it live again until 2017, after the terrorist bombing at an Aria Grande concert in Manchester, England.

Greta and I attended one of his last concerts at the Forum in L.A. in 2018. At least, he unexpectedly (to me) sang “Dry Your Eyes.” I filmed a video of it, which is linked below.

5. Look for a seed of opportunity that often sprouts from adversity. When I was dealt an unexpected divorce in 1994, I started a journal just to gather and organize my thoughts. Six months later, using the words from that journal, I became a newspaper columnist. A seed of opportunity came along, and I grabbed it. I’m still writing 28 years later.

Another song about overcoming heartbreak is by the singing group Pablo Cruise who had a 1978 hit titled “Love Will Find A Way.” Words from that song include:

“Oh, but it’s all right (all right)
Once you get past the pain
(Past the pain)
You’ll learn to find your love again
So keep your heart open
‘Cause love will find a way”

Remember Magic’s words, “You aren’t alone.”

The music:

Here are links to the four songs mentioned.

REM’s Everybody Hurts:

The Bee Gee’s How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?

Neil Diamond Dry Your Eyes (note the trumpet player beginning at the 1:34 mark; he’s incredible

Pablo Cruise’s Love Will Find A Way

4 reasons why high school reunions are good places to meet for senior singles

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – May 13, 2022

Columnist Tom Blake

Why high school reunions are good places for seniors to meet

In my April 29 “Big Yellow Taxi” article, I wrote about a couple who started dating after reuniting at their high school reunion in 2018. The woman lives in Illinois; the man lives in California, near his three daughters, seven grandchildren, and his 96-year-old mom.

The woman is frustrated because they live so far apart. She wonders if she’s wasting her time with him. Over the years, many Champs have shared their stories of meeting a mate at a high school reunion. Some of those meetings have led to marriages.

Champs responded to the Big Yellow Taxi article, including Althea, who wrote:

“Your recent article inspired me to share this high school reunion story with you. My half-brother, Ray, who is now 89, was married for over 50 years to Shirley and widowed in March 2010 at the age of 77.

“In 2011, there was a summer high school class reunion in our hometown of Foxboro, Massachusetts, which he attended. He was living in South Carolina.

“At that reunion, he met Diane, a woman he had known in high school, who graduated a year after he graduated. He knew her through a family member of hers. She is a retired nurse and a widow with five kids, and Ray, a widower, also has five kids.

“Diane lived in Ohio. Ray visited her there and she visited him in South Carolina. Plus, between visits, they spent a lot of time talking over the phone.

“Ray and Diane married a year after Shirley died. I thought it was crazy and disrespectful to his wife of 50-plus years until I talked to him and my nephew, his oldest son, about it. They both said that Shirley wanted Ray to be happy and not be alone for the rest of his years.

“Even though Ray and Diane married quickly, they are still together and happy, now living in Ohio in an assisted living facility.

“I’ll even bet he and Shirley had a lot of talks about what he would do after her death.

“The key to senior relationships is honest and upfront communication. The woman from your most recent article needs to have communication with the California guy if they are to be a forever couple who met at a high school reunion.”

Another high school reunion romance (years later)

In 2017, I wrote about two of my Jackson High School Jackson Michigan school classmates—Phil and Sue—who hadn’t seen or communicated with each other since graduation. At our 50th high school reunion in 2007, they spent 20 minutes talking to each other. Both were married at the time. I mentioned them again a few weeks ago as well.

Five years ago, Phil became a widower. He heard from another classmate that Sue was divorced. He lived in California; Sue lived in Michigan. He contacted her and asked if he could visit her. She said yes, and off he went driving to Michigan.

When they were together in Michigan for a week, they realized they had special feelings for each other. After he returned home to California, he proposed to her over the phone. They were married at the Riverside County Courthouse two weeks later and Sue moved to California to be with Phil.

These two reunion stories reveal

four reasons why high school reunions are good places for seniors to meet potential mates:

1. The number of singles attending. As we age, more and more people who attend reunions are single again. Often widows and widowers attend because they know the people and feel more comfortable among them.

2. A single person might see someone who they had secretly admired in high school, who is also now single. Why not spend some time together?

3. When people who have known each other for years share memories and experiences at class reunions, they often have much in common, which is an important factor in favorable compatibility.

4. Sometimes, people from different graduating classes also attend reunions, which means even more singles are there. You might meet someone who could be older or younger than whom you didn’t even know before.

One added note about high school or college reunions: often, the people you meet live in a different city or state. So, a long-distance relationship could evolve. That can present challenges for people who want to be together. Bottom line: nothing’s easy in senior dating.

When you receive that reunion notice, don’t just toss it aside. An unexpected meeting could happen. “But, but,” the Champ says, “my reunion is in Michigan, and I live in Ushuaia (Argentina).”

Here is a photo from my 60th high school class reunion

60th reunion Jackson High School class of 1957 (This group attended Griswold middle school together as well as high school)

Senior dating: Save the last dance for me

Senior dating: Save the last dance for me

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter May 6, 2022

by Tom P. Blake
(Today’s eNewsletter has been edited for clarity, grammar, and wordiness)

Champs responded to last week’s “Big Yellow Taxi” eNewsletter which featured a widow living in Illinois who had met a widower in California at their high school reunion. She called herself a vaycay girl and wondered if she is wasting her time with him.  
Jackie, also a widow, emailed: “I try not to make my life about having to find someone, but at age 74, IF I had another love story like meeting Randy at my 50th reunion, and subsequently marrying him, that would be nice, but I’m trying to be content—one day at a time. I am enjoying the journey and doing what I like to do, including attending my grandchildren’s activities.”
Tom’s comment: We’ve said it before. Attending school reunions can improve one’s chances for finding love in our senior years. After all, the people who meet at reunions share a common past and experiences from years before.
D, emailed: “In my opinion, the Yellow Taxi ‘vaycay’ gal is very lucky. Who in their right mind would leave California for Illinois when everything that person has is in California? (For the man, children, grandchildren, and mother live near him in California).  
“That guy’s life, happiness, and stability are also his survival and how to make it after the loss of his wife. He was described as a nice guy, and he is making an attempt at a relationship. The Yellow Taxi gal doesn’t seem to appreciate what she has, not to mention a visit by him after he recovers from his knee surgery.
“She is lucky but is complaining like a spoiled brat.”
Our Champs often comment about the oldies songs that I sometimes link to at the end of my eNewsletters. Last week’s song, Big Yellow Taxi, inspired the mention of another song from a Champ.
Champ Wayne emailed a tidbit about a song that he felt illustrates how a songwriter’s personal adversity didn’t stop him from co-writing and making famous a 1960 classic song.

Wayne wrote, “The Drifters recorded “Save the Last Dance for Me” in 1960 and it became a great hit. “The songwriter, Doc Pomus, suffered from polio when he was a kid and was crippled. However, he sometimes used crutches to get around.

“During an interview on Elvis Costello’s show “Spectacle,” Lou Reed, who worked with Pomus, said the song was written on the day of Pomus’ wedding while the groom who used a wheelchair watched his bride dancing with their guests.”

Tom’s comment: I went online and verified that Pomus co-wrote that song with Mort Shuman and the details Wayne provided in the paragraph above are true. Wayne continued: “Pomus’ wife, Willi Burke, was a Broadway actress and dancer. The song gives Pomus’ perspective of telling his wife to have fun dancing but reminds her who will be taking her home and ‘in whose arms you’re gonna be.’

“Hence, the song. True story and very touching! That’s how this wonderful song was written!”

With Ben E. King on lead vocal, the Drifters made the song a number one hit, and it was later recorded by multiple artists, including Anne Murray. I agree with Wayne that the song reminds us that opportunity often arises from adversity. Through dedication, hard work, and never giving up hope, we can make positive contributions to life and the world. Here’s the link to the Drifters singing, “Save the last dance for me.”