On Life and Love After 50 e Newsletter

JUNE 24, 2022

By Columnist Tom Blake

In the last two eNewsletters, I included an SOS message of sorts, reminding Champs to send in their experiences, stories, and questions, so that the articles will keep coming on a weekly basis. Many of you responded, which I appreciate.

Last Friday, while online, I received an email with this subject line: “SOS – The New Lyric Video!” At first take, I thought it was a Champ response to my send in your information appeal. Then, I noticed it was someone else who sent out an SOS message.

As some of you know, ABBA, the Swedish singing supergroup from the 1970s is making a comeback, of sorts. A new custom-built venue called ABBA Arena opened on May 26 in London, which features “Voyage,” ABBA’s first album in 40 years since the group split up. Is the foursome performing 40 years after they split up? Yes, of course, with lots of their old hits, plus some new material also. But there is a twist.

New Abba Arena (photo by Nick F June 2022)

The four original members, Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid have created a concert called Voyage using the same sensational music but digital versions of themselves. The four appear as avatars showing what they looked like in the 1970s, not what they look like now in their 70s.

The London ABBA Arena “Voyaged” show is backed by a live 10-piece orchestra. The show includes the magic of ABBA using motion-capture technology in a spectacular virtual reality show.

They did appear on opening night in person on stage before the concert. The concertgoers went crazy.

In a way, the ABBA members are like we Champs—they are in their 70s now and they’ve aged as we have. In YouTube footage I watched of them appearing on opening night on stage, Agnetha was using a cane. Most of us can relate to them: we loved their music then and they are older like us now.  

Bjorn said it so well in an interview about the story behind the Voyage album. “We’ve aged, but the spirit is still there.”

There are two links listed below to ABBA’S new material. The first is to the new spicy version of SOS. Plus, I’ve included another link to an interview with Benny and Bjorn explaining how the Voyage album came together. The group spent six weeks in a studio perfecting the album and videos.

Performances are sold out for most of the summer. The Voyage website is filled with information, including directions on how to reach the Abba Arena, via train and the London underground tube.

I mentioned ABBA recently in an eNewsletter and how in 2013 Greta and I were in Stockholm on a cruise, and we found the ABBA museum while riding on a Hop On, Hop Off bus. It was the opening day of the museum. They were sold out. We were told we couldn’t go in.

Tom and Greta with Abba look-a-likes in 2003 (photo by Tom Blake)

However, in her gracious, sweet, and convincing way, Greta was able to persuade the museum manager to allow us to enter on that opening day, a memory we will never forget. And while there, we were able to watch while standing four feet away, Natalie Morales of the Today show, interview in person Bjorn and Anna-Frid. That interview aired in the United States live on the Today Show that day.

Natalie Morales of Today show interviewing Bjorn and Anna-Frid in 2013 (photo by Tom Blake)

Will Greta and I go to London to see the Voyage concert? Probably not. But, if we get a call from Bjorn or Anna-Frid inviting us, well, we might rethink it. In the meantime, enjoy the links below.

Link to SOS

Link The story behind the album “The spirit is still there” Bjorn.

Michael McLeavy tells of meeting Elvis in a memoir

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter

by Tom Blake – columnist

June 17, 2022

In March 2017, I wrote a column titled, “Delivering a Letter to Johnny Cash,” which described a trip my partner Greta and I took to Tennessee to visit the Johnny Cash Museum and Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, and Graceland, and Sun Records in Memphis.

As many of you know, I worked with (and became friends with) Johnny Cash in 1975 and 1976 and wanted to show Greta the places where I had been with him.

A fellow Dana Point resident and Champ, Michael McLeavy, responded to that article. He wrote: “I enjoyed your ‘Delivering a Letter to Johnny Cash’ column and thought you might get a kick out of how I met Elvis Presley, since Elvis was a friend of your friend Johnny Cash.”

Michael and I met for lunch and compared stories about how he met Elvis and I met Johnny, two of Tennessee’s greatest singing legends. Michael presented me with a replica of a poster that pictured Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley together, promoting a March 10, 1956, concert in Armory, Mississippi (photo above)

On April 13, 2017, I wrote a follow-up column detailing how Michael met Elvis.

This February, Michael told me he had just completed an autobiography, which features his meeting Elvis as one of the highlights.

He said, “I purchased your Tutor & Spunky’s Deli. A Dana Point Landmark book and was impressed that you self-published it by using Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Would you consider editing, formatting, and helping me publish my book on Amazon?”

I said, “I admit, as a senior, I have extra time on my hands due to staying at home during the pandemic. Seniors need projects to work on. Projects can keep their minds active and give them a purpose. I’m not a professional editor, but I did learn a lot publishing my book.”

I thought getting Michael’s book edited and published might take me three weeks. So, I said to Michael, “I will do it.”

Three weeks turned into two months. Besides editing the manuscript, building a table of contents, and creating the book’s cover, there were multiple pictures to reformat and other details to address. One blessing: the book turned out to be only 132 pages.

What Now? What Next? Where To? by Michael McLeavy

As I worked on the book, I became fascinated with Michael’s life. He moved to Los Angeles from Scotland in 1965. His primary goal was to meet Elvis. He did that and so much more. He built a successful career in the insurance business.

Michael is an accomplished singer. He has recorded four CDs, which are available on Amazon.

Currently, Michael’s book, “What Now? What Next? Where To?” is available in paperback only. The cost on Amazon is $14.99 plus shipping and taxes.

However, if Champs would like a signed and personalized copy, email Michael at with the details. The charge for Champs is $14.25, plus delivery. He will invoice you via his PayPal account, which can be paid via credit cards.

Michael has lived in Dana Point with his wife Linda since 1989.

Will I begin a second senior career helping people as an editor and publisher of books? Perhaps, but not full time as I must leave enough time to keep writing my eNewsletters and newspaper columns. Let me know if you have a book in your future. I’m receptive to questions.

Tom Blake and Michael McLeavy

End of the line

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – June 3, 2022

Today’s topics:

Reflections on Memorial Day

Does a potential mate’s marriage history matter?

It’s not the end of the line (if you haven’t found a mate yet)

On Memorial Day, like so many people, I did some reflecting about life. As a veteran, I certainly thought about the men and women of the armed services who paid the ultimate price. I reflected on the American Cemetery in Normandy France that Greta and I visited in 2016. It was a heart-wrenching experience to see the 9,387 gravesites of the Americans buried there. Most were casualties of the D-Day invasion, which took place only a few hundred yards from the cemetery, on June 6, 1944. Some perished in other parts of WWII.

Les, one of our Champs, was involved in D-Day.   

Only four of the 9,387 buried there are women. Greta and I searched the cemetery until we found at least one of the four women’s gravesites. We came upon the white cross of Elizabeth A. Richardson, Mishawaka, Indiana, who was a Red Cross Volunteer, age 27, who died in a plane crash on July 25, 1944. I took a photo of her gravestone.

And I also thought about the men and women serving now. This very morning, Greta’s grandson-in-law Carlos is retiring from the Marine Corps after 23 years. We will be at his retirement ceremony at Camp Pendleton. We’re grateful for his dedication.

Also on Memorial Day, I thought about the last two years where Covid-19 made life difficult for all of us. For senior singles, it made meeting a potential mate very difficult. For seniors in long-distance relationships, it meant not seeing a partner as often.

I spoke to my friend Mike S. on Memorial Day and he stated how the recent tragic shootings across our country had affected him and Joanie, his significant other. He stated, “I’m out of sorts; this is a strange day.” I felt the same way.

I thought about our Champs who are alone, some of them probably feeling a bit empty themselves. I thought about five friends–two who are new widows, two who are new widowers and a guy friend who recently said to me, “I lost the best woman I’ve ever known.”  I know how tough Memorial Day was for them.

And then I felt maybe I could give senior singles a little boost via this week’s eNewsletter.

Recently, some Champs have asked if a person’s dating and/or marriage history is important when seeking a mate. Here are my thoughts.

1 When you meet a potential mate, does their marriage/divorce history matter? What if they were married and divorced two or more times? Does that make them a risky choice?

My answer: no. When Greta and I had our first date 25 years ago, one thing we both fessed up to that we had in common was we each had been married and divorced three times. Both of us had been thinking, if I say that, will the other one get up and leave.

We didn’t bat an eye. Neither asked, “Why so many times?” We both understood what the other had been through. We both seemed like nice people. If anything, that common bond help bring us together. The result: a quarter-century of sharing life together. We finally got the senior relationship challenge right, even though we didn’t want or have the need to marry.

(2) How about dating a widowed person? Most widows and widowers have told me they prefer to date widowed people because widowed people understand each other. An important consideration is: have they given themselves time to grieve and heal?

Twelve years ago, I published an eBook titled, “Widower Dating. Gold Mine or Mine Field?” That book addresses many issues that can arise in dating a widowed person, especially dating a widower. It’s in eBook format only and is 33 pages. The eBook costs $2.99. To read a free preview, go to and then search on “Tom Blake. Widower Dating. Gold Mine or Mine Field.” While published 12 years ago, the information remains applicable today.

Both widows and widowers have told me the book has helpful advice for them, in addition to someone who is dating a widower.

I dated a widow before I met Greta. She kept calling me “Sam,” her deceased husband’s name. I felt she hadn’t healed properly, and the relationship fizzled out.

Is it okay to date widowed people? Of course. However, early on have the discussion with him or her to ensure the person has adequately healed. It would be terrible to fall in love with someone who decides down the road that he or she hasn’t healed enough and dumps you. Ouch!

(3) And is there risk in dating a person who has never married? Perhaps they are the wisest among all senior singles. No divorce scars. But you may wisely wonder, can he or she give and be a supportive and loving partner?

Of course, they can! They wouldn’t be making themselves available if they weren’t up to the task. The more important question might be can you be a supportive and loving partner to him or her.

There is no right or wrong answer to these three questions. It’s up to each person individually. It’s all in the attitude. It’s all how two people interact and care for each other. And don’t think, it’s the end of the line for you because you haven’t met that significant someone yet.

End Of The Line

Coincidentally, as I was working on this eNewsletter on Memorial Day, Greta clicked on YouTube TV and the song “End of the Line,” Volume 1 played, by The Traveling Wilbury’s, featuring George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne.” Incredible piece of music. Recorded in October 1988.

Orbison died on December 6, 1988, and when Volume 2 of “End of the Line” came out, the video featured a guitar sitting on an empty rocking chair, placed there to honor Orbison. Toward the end of the video, Orbison’s voice is dubbed in. Bob Dylan appeared on the Volume 2 video. I am ending today’s eNewsletter with a link to Volume 2 of “End Of The Line.” Look for the rocking chair, the subtle picture of Roy Orbison and the cameo appearance of Bob Dylan. And the messages in the song to seniors about living a full life. The video has had 99,000,000 views since being originally posted in 2016.