On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter (special edition)
September 24, 2022
By Columnist Tom Blake
Picture of Johnny Cash and a future king together (photo courtesy of Rosanne Cash)below
Our Champ Andrew emailed on Tuesday a “heads up” of a Twitter post by Rosanne Cash, the youngest daughter of Johnny Cash. Andrew didn’t know if I had seen the @rosannecash post. I hadn’t and really appreciate him sending it to me.
I have known Rosanne for 46 years and Greta and I try to see her in concert when she performs within an hour or two from our home. Rosanne is in the Country Music Hall of Fame (along with her dad) and is extremely talented and intelligent. Here’s what her Twitter post stated (keep in mind, this was the day after Queen Elizabeth’s funeral):
“I’ve been debating all day whether or not to post this photo, but it’s just too good to keep it under wraps. I expect a lot of captions, but none I haven’t thought of already. But go right ahead.”
I decided to provide a caption that I can guarantee neither Rosanne nor any of her 103,000 likes followers thought of. As a co-producer of Johnny’s album of train songs, “Destination Victoria Station,” I came up with this caption:
“Johnny wrote a song titled “Destination Victoria Station,” about the Victoria Station train station in London. Album is the same name. JRC nailed it. The other guy in the photo passed through the Victoria Station train station but was probably lost. John is giving him directions!”
The other guy in the picture is King Charles III in his much younger days.
Dee has been a Champ for several years. She used to attend the Senior Singles Meet and Greet gatherings at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli, which I owned for 25 years. The last time I saw Dee was a year ago in August at a book signing held at the deli. At that time, she told me, “Things are going well, a lot has changed, all positive. I got married two years ago to Ron.”
On July 31 this year, Dee emailed me an update, “I wonder if you remember my email from last year at some point where I talked about Ron’s and my relationship and how we had gotten married after he was in a terrible accident that killed his brother and caused so much damage to Ron’s body, caused brain trauma and hurt his spirit.
“Well, Ron passed away two days ago, on Friday, after spending a week in the ICU at Saddleback Memorial. He had this stubborn cough that would not let up. Turned out he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to his lungs.
“Now I am a widow from my ‘fifth and final’ husband. When he asked me to marry him in 2017, he said he wanted to be my ‘fifth and final.’ This deep grief is new territory for me. We were supposed to ‘grow old together, the best was yet to be.’”
“I am so sad. Thank you for being there.”
Dee’s news was a shock to me. Besides Dee, I’ve had three other women friends become widows in the last 12 months. I admire their strength in dealing with their respective losses. Each is dealing with her situation in her own unique way.
On September 13, Dee updated me, “I have been a widow for eight weeks and wonder ‘What’s going to happen in the future?’ For the first few weeks, I jealously guarded my wedding ring! I did not want to remove it even for a moment.
“As the weeks went by, I began to think about the ring. My husband Ron and I had two sets of matching rings plus I have a gold band as well. I started changing my rings to go with my mood or my outfit for the day. I still want to wear it. I will never forget him or cast off our marriage.
“But I am starting to think about the symbolization the ring stands for. It says, ‘I’m a married woman, but I realize I’m not anymore.’ I have no intention of dating. I recognize I have many months of contemplation and reflection ahead of me, and I just want some companionable friends and people to spend time with, nothing romantic.
“What do you think our Champs would say about wearing a wedding ring after one’s spouse has passed away? How does one decide when and if to remove the symbol of marriage? I was going to start by changing the placement, going from my ring finger on the left to the ring finger on the right…start there and see how it feels. To me, this sounds reasonable, but I almost feel disloyal. Wedding ring guilt.
“As far as the pictures go, his old room is now back to being an office and most of the pictures of him and of us are in there. I moved all but my favorite one from my room two weeks after he died because seeing his smiling face was wrenching.
“I like to see his picture before I turn the lights out. His 11” x 14” portrait picture that was taken after his accident-repair dental work is on the dining table, and I see it often, and I love it!
“When he was in the accident many of his front teeth were damaged, so he got them all fixed up and gained an even more amazing smile. The dentist sent him to a photographer for a portrait for their office (before and after). The photographer was kind enough to send me a larger portrait since I only had a 5×7.
“Ron’s life changed immensely once we met, dated, married. His daughter tells me his life unfolded five-fold and he was SO happy. Many people that knew him for years like co-workers and friends told me the same thing. Our relationship opened many new doors for him and I was happy and thrilled to bring these things like college and travel into his life.
“This created some challenges for us, we had different value systems that we had to learn to integrate, but we got there, and we became best friends who looked out for each other, loved up on each other, and made our tiny home a cozy little nest and had so many adventures together.
“When/if the time comes, I will put some of the pictures away if necessary. But for now, I think you can see that I’m very confused. What might Champs say?”
Close encounter with a future king and queen consort
On March 1, 2009, Greta and I flew from Los Angeles to Santiago, Chile, to begin a three-week land tour of South America. Because we were unfamiliar with Santiago, we booked a tour guide named Mauricio Yanez Mora to pick us up at the Santiago Airport and transfer us to the Orly Boutique Hotel, where we would stay for three nights.
We also scheduled Mauricio to show us around the city on a half-day tour the following day.
Greta and I were so impressed with Mauricio that we hired him to drive us on a day trip to view the Casablanca Valley wine country and the port city of Valparaiso on March 3. Valparaiso is 75 miles from Santiago. (See the brochure from 2009 above).
Our first stop in the gorgeous Chilean countryside was at Emiliana, an organic winery, about an hour west of Santiago. The autumn leaves were starting to turn; the scenery was breathtaking.
There were only a few other visitors at the vineyard that morning. We walked 45 minutes around the grounds, seeing geese, roosters, hens, and other birds, which ate the bug pests, instead of the winery using pesticides. There were llamas around the vineyard. We were able to sample some wines in the wine shop.
When we returned to Mauricio’s car, he discovered his car battery was dead. The winery had no battery charging equipment. Mauricio borrowed a phone and summoned a truck from Valparaiso to fix the battery problem. We’d be on our way in a half hour or so.
And then, a bizarre event occurred that startled Greta, me, and Mauricio as well. Seven green and white police motorcycles came into the vineyard with lights flashing and flags flying, followed by two army trucks, also with lights flashing. The motorcycles and trucks turned in our direction. There were three sharpshooters standing in the back of each truck, holding high-powered rifles and machine guns.
The three of us looked at each other. Had we done something wrong? Were we going to jail? Would we be victims of a military coup? The trucks and motorcycles passed within 20 feet of us and in less than two minutes, they disappeared into the vineyards. They appeared to be looking for someone in hiding.
Mauricio asked the vineyard employees what was going on. We were relieved to hear that it was merely a security check by the police and military in advance of a visit to the winery by Prince Charles and Camilla from the U.K. who were visiting the vineyard on March 5. Apparently, Prince Charles’ hobby was organic farming.
Not to be political, but I didn’t care that Prince Charles and Camilla were visiting the winery because I wasn’t a big fan of Prince Charles at that time.
Before long we were on our way to Valparaiso, a bit relieved that we weren’t in handcuffs in the back of an army truck. And, Mauricio’s car had a new battery.
Fast forward to last week, September 8. The airwaves were filled with the news that Queen Elizabeth had died. Prince Charles became the new king, King Charles III, and Camilla became the Queen Consort.
Upon hearing the news, Greta and I looked at each other. I said, “Think about it, 13 years ago, we missed having a nearly private encounter with a future king and queen consort in an organic vineyard in Chile. Not many people can say that.”
We both smiled. In our travels, we’d come upon some firsts for us. Among them, almost seeing Prince Charles and Camilla at a Chilean Winery in 2009 and being at the ABBA Museum in 2013 in Stockholm on the museum’s opening day. Events like these are rewards of travel.
Now, Emiliana is the largest organic vineyard in the world. In 2021, more than one million cases of wine were sold.
If you are traveling to Santiago, Chile, and want an incredible tour guide, contact Mauricio. Read the below review about Mauricio. I am confident this is the same Mauricio who drove us around in 2009. If you book him, remind him of this story at the Emiliana Vineyard in 2009. He probably now has a spare battery in his trunk.
I read this little tidbit online Monday, September 5, 2022. Nothing surprises me anymore:
At the Harry Reid Airport (Las Vegas), a 28-year-old woman left a Chili’s restaurant at the airport without paying her tab a week or two ago. She was arrested by police.
She reportedly said that the police arrested her because they had never seen anyone so good-looking. Apparently, she threatened to spit at the police.
Delightful. I guess she felt that being “so good-looking” allowed her to skip out on her restaurant tab.
Judit Masco, a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition front-cover model, pictured above, was pretty “good-looking” and not only paid for her tab in 1990 at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli, but also left a large tip).
2. Comments from Champs responding to last week’s “Senior non-romantic love” article. (also known as senior platonic love)
Kaitte said, “Some of my best friends are men. I have met and known several women who have married younger men. One man was 17 years younger, and they are as happy as a clam.
“All of the items you listed–keeping your independence, keeping your life, and staying friends are important–they will know if their situation changes but after 10 years together, I doubt it will.”
Brenda emailed, “I have a senior unromantic love relationship. My man friend and I have played very important roles in each other’s lives and shared many laughs and tears. We have confided things to each other that we’ve never discussed with others. I wouldn’t trade his friendship for anything.”
Ted (a Jackson Michigan, high school classmate of mine) emailed, “Regarding your ‘Live at the Ryman’ article two weeks ago, I’ve always envied your relationship with Johnny Cash. I knew very little about country music until my days working at WALM radio in Albion, Michigan.
“One of my colleagues there came to Michigan from Tennessee as a young man and brought with him a love and deep knowledge of that genre.
“We had a program at WKHM radio in Jackson (Michigan) that was hosted by a guy who called himself ‘Georgia Boy Ben Worthy,’ who used Johnny’s Orange Blossom Special as his theme music.
“I have two or three favorite Johnny Cash albums that I listen to as I mow my lawn. (Yes, I still mow my lawn, maybe just to prove that I can!) My wife Marcia says that sometimes I sing along with Johnny as I mow, but of course, I attribute that to her imagination.
“I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite Johnny Cash song, but Sunday Morning Coming Down would be near the top of the list.
“‘I Walk the Line’ always reminds me of our classmate Lee Taylor because it was on the jukebox in a tiny restaurant he and I visited during one of our extended fishing trips 200 miles or so north of Sault Ste. Marie.”
3. Senior scams. Scammers at work
On Friday, August 26, I received an email from a comcast.net address with this subject line: “question!!!!!!!!”
It read, “Please can I ask you something important?
I thought it was strange. Not only was the question grammatically incorrect–“can” is wrong here; “may” is the correct word, but why does someone need permission to ask? Normally, I would just delete an email like that, but I didn’t want to be rude in case it was one of our Champs asking the question. So, I replied, “Sure, what’s up?”
The person, using the same name, replied from a different email address(<email@example.com): “Thanks I’m glad you replied back. Sorry to bother you, today is my niece’s birthday and I promised her and her friend a Sephora gift card for her birthday. I’m traveling at the moment and have tried every means possible in purchasing one online, which is to no avail.
“Please, I would appreciate it if you could help me purchase it in a store around you. Am only looking to spend a $400 Sephora gift card ($100 each denomination 2 cards) on it. I’ll pay back as soon as I get back. Please let me know if you can handle this.
“Await your soonest response. Best regards, Jon”
Of course, I knew it was a scam. And then I realized that the name on the original email seemed familiar. I checked our eNewsletter subscriber list. Sure enough, the name and email address belong to Jon, a Champ. I had received 16 emails from him between 2007 and 2013, but none since 2013. However, our eNewsletters are still being opened by him.
Hence, I sent him an email to notify Jon that he had been scammed. Jon responded: “A lot of people got stuff like this. It’s all nonsense. Ignore and discard.
“I’m still seeing Sharon. Today is our mutual birthday. Going out for dinner when her cat recovers.”
Hence, Jon is aware of what happened. I also reported the scammer’s Gmail message to Google. They are investigating.
And then this Tuesday, I received another suspicious email from firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line: “Urgent.”
It read: “How are you?
“I need your help. I’d appreciate it if you could email me back. Am unable to talk on the phone right now due to a serious sore throat.
“Please let me know if you are online. Thanks. Deanna.”
A sore throat? Really? I did not answer.
These two emails are samples of methods scammers are using. Please beware.
That’s it from the Mailbag for this week. Let’s hope this heat wave eases; we all need a break.
For seniors,none-romantic love can be as important as romantic love
A woman Champ emailed: “Your eNewsletter two weeks ago reminded me of the long relationship I’ve had with my friend Bill, who I affectionately call, ‘Misterbill.’ I’d be curious what you and the Champs think about my longtime senior platonic friendship with this much younger man.
“As of this month, Bill and I have now known each other for 10 years. We met through one of the dating sites, Plenty Of Fish or Match.com, I forget which one it was. We had our first date on a scorching August day in 2012. It was on a Tuesday; he was coming from a job and was a bit grimy and sweaty – he does handyman work and construction.
“I didn’t mind the grime, he had already warned me, and he was quite nice! A welcome change from the duds I had been meeting. He had a sense of humor and a nice dimpled smile. He was 44 and I was 61—a 17-year difference. He thought I was 51. (That was when I was lowering my age by 10 years on dating sites and easily getting away with it. Not sure I could get away with it anymore!)
“Bill thought I was seven years older and told me he always liked older women…yeah, heard that before! But eventually, I told him my actual age. He still didn’t mind the bigger age gap.
“When we met he was just three months out of his marriage and he told me it was in the divorce process. We had some similarities in that he had been married at 18 or 19 – and like my daughter, his two daughters were young adults already and out of the nest.
“We loved dogs, the outdoors and he had a good sense of humor. But that’s pretty much all we had in common, plus our lifestyles were SO much different, due to our ages and living situations.
“Bill has always had his own business as a handyman and he works alone. He made very little money, and his wife for the most part didn’t work, so he was their sole support. At one point they lost the place they were renting and had to move into his parents’ house when his girls were young.
He was still living there when we met because he was never going to make enough money to afford to live on his own, and he needed his parent’s property for his business storage–tools, machinery, junk cars, etc. He is also a welder.
“We got along well and dated for a few months. I realized he was not going to be the forever man for me because we were in totally different places in our lives that didn’t mesh.
“We have never been intimate except for kissing…although he did sit in my hot tub with me, naked…with no fooling around (but he wanted to!) because I didn’t want it to get to the sex part when I knew it was going nowhere. Hence, the dating ended after a few months, but we kept in touch. He still wanted a relationship; I still wanted a friendship.
“The two main problematic issues were:
#1. Living arrangements if we became a couple, and he had a passion for off-roading and rock climbing with his 4-wheel drive vehicles, which he did about every weekend with a club and went out of state to do often. With my developing arthritis issues, I wouldn’t be able to do those things and didn’t want to do them.
“#2. There was no way I would live in his father’s house (his parents were still alive and living there, and they were messy/hoarders). Or, if he came to live with me in the house I was renting, I was afraid I would end up supporting him for the most part. Plus, he wouldn’t have been able to put his work stuff and cars, etc. on the property I was renting. I thought of all the possible angles, and nothing would work.
“Money, and not having enough of it, can sure hold a person back from doing the things he or she wants.
“Then there was the matter of his divorce, which he never got because his business was in both his and his wife’s name and he would have lost it or had to divide things, start over, pay alimony–a big mess.
“We’ve stayed in touch for 10 years. He’s been a good friend. Each time I moved he’s been right there to help me pack when I couldn’t, move plants and some things to my new places, and has done general handiwork for me like building a small corner shelf unit and hanging lights, curtain rods, towel rods, etc.
“I’ve always paid him, though not as much as he’s worth because I have just enough to live on, and I’d either prepare him a meal or purchase him a meal when he was done. This May, he drove me to my storage unit, packed the contents into his truck and brought it back 85 miles to my new storage place, and packed it all back in. I paid for his gas and bought our lunch on the trip back.
“He was out of the state working when I needed my new furniture put together so his daughter Jen – who’s a welder – came over and did it, in three trips. I paid her and also fed her pizza each time because she came over directly after work.
“He now pops over to say hi when he’s working in the area. He was here on Tuesday, brought the ingredients and made pizza for us, stayed and watched a movie then left…though I think he wanted to crash on my couch because I kept having to tell him I was tired and had to go to bed! It took a lot to get him to move off the couch. LOL.
“I invited him to come the next night to have my meatloaf dinner with me and afterward he took me for an evening sunset ride in his 2004 Mercedes convertible and we ended up at his daughter Jen’s house – 45 minutes away.
“OHH! – the night of our convertible ride when he brought me home, as he was hugging me goodbye outside in the cool evening air, he said, “I love you.” I was a bit stunned but smiled at him and said spontaneously, “I love you too!”
“Again, what do you think of my longtime platonic friendship with this much younger man?
Tom’s comment: I think this Champ has managed this relationship perfectly. She had the common sense to not get into a living-together or intimate relationship. And it wasn’t the senior 17-year age difference as much as it was the lack of many important things in common.
And yet, after 10 years, they have remained friends and professed their non-romantic love for each other. They are there for each other; they help each other. That type of senior non-romantic love is priceless.