|On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter |
September 29, 2022
by Tom Blake Columnist
A widow says, “I’m okay without a spouse”
This week, we share responses to last week’s eNewsletter, which featured Dee, a recent widow. Dee hoped that Champs would comment about what she should do with her wedding rings now that her husband is gone.
As the responses poured in, they reminded me of the poignant words from the song “Graceland,” a song written by singer/songwriter Paul Simon and released in November 1986 on the album of the same name.
The Graceland album won a 1988 Grammy for Album of the Year. Fifteen million albums were sold. The Graceland song is Simon’s favorite of all the songs he has written. The poignant words:
“Losing love is like a window in your heart. Everybody sees you’re blown apart. Everybody sees the wind blow.”
(A link to the song Graceland is at the end of today’s column)
I think those words are some of the greatest love-lost-pain words in history. You’ll understand why the following sage responses from Champs made me think of them.
Vickey emailed, “Dee, you have my sympathy. To love deeply is to grieve deeply.
“I am a widow of 20 years. My advice is to not second guess your decisions about the ring. Wear it or not, it’s ok. I have traveled many miles since being widowed by losing my one and only husband. I do have a companion who in every way makes me complete.”
Kaitte, “Re the widow wedding ring issue, Dee, you need to do YOU for YOU. There is no law that says you can’t wear your rings till you are no longer here, and if anyone says something, simply walk away. They aren’t worth a comment unless you want to add, ‘Just widowed,’ and walk away. Same with the pictures. Don’t ALLOW anyone to tell you differently.”
Susie, “Dee’s letter was very sad. I was thinking that anyone who is going through anything at this stage of one’s life should exchange emails and get a group together and talk out some of our feelings; we might be able to help each other, what do you think of that Tom?”
Tom’s comment to Susie. There are many widow and widower groups in existence across the country. It would be easier, I think, to search online for those and join one near where you live. If a Champ wants to start a new one, I suggest that person start a Facebook page. If someone does that, I will be happy to mention it in a future column.
Also, one of our Champs is Christine Baumgartner, who is a relationship counselor and a widow. She is aware of several widow and widower groups. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d care to reach out to her.
Dr. John (a family doctor), emailed, “Dee poses some interesting questions. Here’s my advice:
– Dee says she never wants to date again – well, maybe. She’s still grieving, it’s way too early to be sure. Also, quick ‘rebound romances’ tend to be a bad idea.
– Most men view widows favorably. After all, one of men’s’ biggest worries is divorce, which in the USA is mostly initiated by wives. Widowhood means the wife stayed with the husband to the end. I had a patient two months ago who lost his job AND his wife (who divorced him), when he came down with cancer, which he beat. But then he got heart disease from one of the chemotherapy drugs he was given. She ‘didn’t want to be his nurse.’ That goes to show why men have a legitimate fear of women divorcing them.
– I’d suggest re: the widow wedding ring issue, she wear the wedding ring until/if she decides she’s ready for a new relationship.”
Virginia, “Life is short. Dee might benefit if she would consider going to some counseling sessions to help her put her feelings into perspective. While it’s normal to take time to grieve, sometimes a snag like an emotional quagmire can ruin the rest of a person’s life and she or he might need a little help to move on.
Dee is a survivor and has years ahead to enjoy the rest of her life. Maybe someone can suggest a good counselor or psychologist who could gently help her move on, so she doesn’t get bogged down with this and ruin her life.
“There are also some well-written self-help books on the stages of grief and how to recognize what she is going through that might help her.” (See Tom’s comment below for a book suggestion).
Joanie, “Dee should move the ring first to her right hand. Then to a nice chain with the ring on it to wear around the neck. Eventually, she might put the ring into a jewelry box.”
Carm, “Dee’s story reminded me of my Karen’s comment that the nearly five years we spent together were the happiest days of her life. Pancreatic cancer: Only an 8 or 9% survival rate. “It also reminded me of the puzzlement I went through with our rings: I eventually taped them to the big mirror in my bedroom.”
Cynthia, “I just reread your newsletter about Dee the new widow. I feel her pain after she met Ron and her thinking it was her final marriage. I’ve been a widow for 7 1/2 years and I still have pictures of my husband all over my house because I enjoy seeing them and that brings me comfort. I don’t have any intention of moving them out!
“As far as her wedding ring, after a couple of years, I moved my wedding ring and my husband’s wedding band to my right hand. I wear his band all the time but when I’m going out, then sometimes I’ll add my diamond engagement ring. I enjoy wearing it and I don’t want to give it up so I understand Dee’s feelings totally.
“I think everybody has to figure out what works best for them and I know it’s really soon after his passing but I pray that Dee will take it slow.”
Sharon, “I have been a champ for 14+ years after my husband David passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2008. Dee’s story touched my heart about her wedding rings.
“What worked for me is that I took David’s wedding band and my wedding band and had a jeweler link them together. I bought a very nice gold chain and wore them around my neck for many years. Like Dee, wearing my wedding rings after David died felt different.
“I struggled with the fact that I wasn’t married anymore and those rings were a reminder of the 31-1/2 wonderful years that were now gone. I emphasize gone because I loved my life, being David’s wife, and the life, we had together.
“I did date for a couple of years after his death, but it was difficult because David and I had an autistic son who was 18 when David died. It was hard for me because I think I was looking for someone who would be family and most of the men I dated wanted a companion, not a grown child. I was a ‘packaged deal.’
“I didn’t like bringing different people into my son’s life. It was a challenging time for both he and I. It seemed so easy when I met David and trying online dating was hard for me. I finally decided about seven years ago that I didn’t really want to try dating anymore.
“I have a full life, job, family, good friends, our son Philip, and Special Olympics, and I just prayed that I would be content with the full life that I had. Sure, there are still times, that I wish I had a special someone, but I am so thankful that I am okay without a spouse.
“I joke with my friends, that my husband was such a good husband, father, and man, he made it impossible for someone to compete with that! Except now I have two dogs, and they are special!
“I hope Dee in time finds her way. Trust me, I know how hard it is to lose a spouse, but I take each day one at a time and try to remember each day how grateful I am.”
S, wrote: “To Dee: I wore my wedding ring for seven years after my divorce. Just didn’t feel right without it.”
Wayne, emailed, “The only problem I see with a woman wearing her late spouse’s wedding ring on her left hand is that it indicates she’s still married. Wearing it on her right hand is fine.
“I wear an old wedding ring on my right hand sometimes as it’s an attractive ring. I’ve asked a few women if that bothers them, and they’ve said it was fine. I respect a woman that isn’t afraid to occasionally mention her late husband in a loving way… he was a big part of her life and I see it as a sign of respect.
“Pictures around the house are fine; I prefer they be part of a family photo.”
Thanks, Champs. Not only have you helped Dee, but others–women and men–who are also dealing with being widowed or losing a significant other.
Matt and Cheryl – Successful senior internet long-distance relationship
On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – June 21, 2019
by Tom P Blake
Matt and Cheryl – A successful senior internet long-distance relationship
Setting the stage–October 2015:
Cheryl, 68, twice divorced from “two very unhappy marriages.” Lives in Ohio. Owns a horse and a home. Two kids, both married. Grandchildren in Ohio nearly grown. She’s lived within 30 minutes of them from the time they were born. All family members live in Ohio and she has many friends there as well. She’s also very involved in her church.
Using free online dating site OK Cupid. Answered 600+ questions on Cupid questionnaire.
Cheryl says, “I know many of your readers have expressed skepticism regarding the safety and efficacy of online dating. I did background checks on a few of the men I was interested in.”
Cheryl considers herself to be a ‘word nerd’—she has a collection of inspiring quotes she tries to live by. Example she provided:
“May I have the courage today to live the life that I would love, to postpone my dream no longer, but do at last what I came here for, and waste my heart on fear no more.” Author unknown.
Matt, 68 (three months younger than Cheryl), widower, one daughter living in her own home in same city as Matt, in the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan. Using OK Cupid, Answered 400+ questions on OK Cupid questionnaire.
Getting to know a potential mate the correct way: a step-by-step process
Cheryl says, “When Matt and I were on OK Cupid in 2015, questionnaire answers were multiple choice, however, there was space to add comments to answers; Matt and I both did that on many questions.
“Answers were grouped by category, making it easy to check potential compatibility regarding issues such as religion, political views, etc., and there was a category that essentially identified ‘deal breakers,’ which was also very helpful in ‘weeding out’ potential partners.
“Hence, when we started communicating, we already knew quite a lot about each other.
“We progressed from on-site communication to email to phone calls to Skype-dating calls. Prior to giving him my email address, I Googled him and ran a basic background check.
“By the time we went on Skype, we had enjoyed nightly extended phone calls, often 2-3 hours! The Skype-dating calls were wonderful as you can see each other and enjoy facial reactions.
“In April 2016 (five months after initial contact), I flew to the U.P. to meet Matt in person, and, visit the U.P. for the first time. I stayed a week, at his apartment, which may have been somewhat ‘brazen’ of me, but even that short time living under the same roof increased our understanding of each other.
“In July 2016, Matt drove to my home in Ohio, stayed for two weeks, and met my family and friends. By then, we had fallen in love and decided we wanted to spend ‘the rest of the journey’ together, and I had decided to move to the U.P.
Relocating for senior love to begin a new life
Cheryl continued, “I moved from Ohio to the U.P. of Michigan in Sept. 2016 to be with him (11 months after first contact). It was a big decision, as I wanted Matt to have the opportunity to live close to his daughter when she married and had children. We moved into Matt’s home.
“I like the U.P. and have made a new life for myself here, joining a church, working part-time at an elementary school, and am boarding my horse at a wonderful facility where we are starting a non-profit program called ‘Hoofprints of Hope.’
“The goal is to provide equine experiences for at-risk kids. Matt has been involved as well offering business-planning advice gleaned from his experiences as a city manager and economic development specialist, and he is planning to do some grant writing for the organization.
“Regarding the cold weather (Tom had asked me about this), until this past winter, our weather wasn’t much colder than in Ohio. This past winter was exceptionally cold, but I put blankets on my horse–he’s in the barn at night–and I just layered-up! I’m REALLY hoping this winter isn’t as cold!
“I’m a graduate of Ohio State University. Tom also asked if there was an Ohio State vs. Michigan rivalry, as there is in football. We aren’t into football so that’s a non-issue.
“Matt, unfortunately, has dealt with several health issues including cancer in the three years that we’ve been together, but fortunately he is now cancer-free.
“I am still encouraging people to try online dating utilizing precautions such as background checks. If you want to be in a loving relationship you must make an effort to find it! It won’t find you!”
Keeping in touch with family and friends
Cheryl continued: “We return to Ohio to visit at least once a year, and my daughter and family visited us here in December 2017.
“Matt and I feel extraordinarily blessed to have found love with each other at our age–72 now! We know it would not have happened had we not taken a chance on the internet. We both feel the format of OK Cupid was instrumental in our finding each other.
“I learned much more about potential partners online than when meeting men in a social situation.
“I reported several obvious scammers during my online searches. Maybe Matt and I just got lucky, but before we met, I interacted/communicated online with several nice and genuine men.
“Hopefully, we can inspire others to search for and find love and happiness.
“My sister and I had parents who were married for 60 years, so a new woman in our dad’s life (after Mom passed) was quite a surprise! However, she was a lovely person who made Dad’s last three years very happy, and we remained close to her until she passed.
“Dad said, ‘Life is for the living,’ and his decision to seek happiness in his later years with a new partner was influential in my decision to do the same. In addition to finding happiness myself, I hope I have also set an example for my kids and grand kids of overcoming difficulties in life.”
Tom’s comment: Thanks to Cheryl, for so willingly sharing the “Matt and Cheryl” meeting. Six long-distance dating tips from this story:
- Finding love after 50, 60, 70 or even 80 can happen, but it takes work, time and likely some money
- Cheryl and Matt made the right moves: Putting themselves out there. Progressing to Skype-dating. Doing background checks. Meeting face-to-face within a year.
- A willingness to relocate by at least one person
- Acceptance of and dealing with complications as they arise—biggest one is usually health issues. Other issues could be money or children
- Being close in age can help, but, isn’t mandatory
- Having similar interests.
Reminder: The Senior Meet and Greet is this coming Thursday, June 27, at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli, 34085 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point, CA 92629. 5 to 7 p.m. Beer and wine, $5 each. Complimentary appetizers. 949 412-9008. No need to RSVP
Tutor and Spunky’s – Dana Point California
Dry Your Eyes – McStay Family 9-year ordeal coming to an end
On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – June 14, 2019
by Columnist Tom Blake
“Dry Your Eyes,” a nine-year ordeal coming to an end
This January, I wrote a column titled, “The McStay Family Deserves Closure.” In one way, it was easy for me to write, as I was closely acquainted with the people affected. In another way, it was difficult to write, as it was deeply personal to me.
That January article described an ordeal that the McStay Family—my ex-wife Susan and former stepson Mikey—have been through over the past nine years.
Background: While on a business trip to Dallas, Texas, in the mid-1980s, I met Susan McStay. In 1987, Susan and one of her sons, Mikey, moved to live with me in San Rafael, California. A few months later, her other son, Joey, joined us.
Six months after that, the four of us relocated to Dana Point in southern Orange County. She and I married later that year; we divorced in 1994.
On February 4, 2010, Joey, his second wife Summer, and their sons Gianni, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3, went missing from their Fallbrook, California home.
Five days later, their Isuzu Trooper was found abandoned in a strip mall parking lot near the Mexican border, giving the impression that their disappearance may have been voluntary, that perhaps they had decided to travel or move to Mexico without telling anybody.
But, that didn’t add up. Food was left on the dinner table, their beloved dogs had no food or water, and there was $80,000 in a bank account. And Joey would never have left without telling his mom.
The mystery of the family’s whereabouts lasted nearly four years. On November 13, 2013, an off-road motorcyclist noticed parts of a human skull in the Mojave Desert near Interstate 15 in Victorville, CA., and reported it to law enforcement. The four McStay bodies were found buried in two shallow graves. A sledgehammer was in one of the graves.
A year later, Nov. 5, 2014, Chase Merritt, a business partner of Joey’s, was arrested on suspicion of bludgeoning to death all four family members.
Another four years passed, until, January 7, 2019, when the trial finally began, which is when I wrote the “McStay Family Deserves Closure” article.
Keeping in touch with Mikey
Mikey, and his new wife, Gaylan, live in the North Beach area of San Clemente, near the McStay Memorial Bench, which is on a bluff overlooking the ocean at 1407 Buena Vista.
McStay Family names on Memorial Bench in San Clemente, California (photo by Tom Blake)
Mikey and I have touched base a few times during the last several months. Mikey phoned me in early June, saying the trial would end soon. He was upbeat.
The verdict was reached on Friday, June 7. However, it wasn’t revealed until 10 a.m., June 10. I wanted to hear the outcome the moment it was announced. I couldn’t get it on live TV, or online, so I turned on my car radio to KNX and sat outside our Dana Point home in the car until I heard the news. It’s the same home where Joey, Mikey, and Susan lived with me for six years.
After a nine-year ordeal and a five-month trial, a verdict was reached: Merritt was found guilty on four counts of first-degree murder. There remain many unanswered questions about the case, and now the sentencing phase is underway.
Did the verdict bring closure to the McStays? In a way, perhaps. But how will they ever forget what happened? Closure wasn’t the correct word to use in that article. According to a June 11 Los Angeles Times article, by Alene Tchekmedyian, as Susan left the court room, she mentioned to a woman, “It’s over.” So, maybe “over” would be a better word choice than closure.
After hearing the verdict Monday morning, I was in a fog most of the day. Although I hadn’t seen the McStays much in the years following the divorce, they had been a part of my life for six years. And I am the reason they moved to California, although years ago, shortly after the family disappeared, Susan told me emphatically not to think that way.
The lyrics, “…To those distant fallen angels, who descended much too soon,” from the song, “Dry Your Eyes,” co-written by Neil Diamond and Jaime Robertson in 1976, kept going through my mind on Monday. It’s a start-healing song, that was written after the 1960s assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy.
At a Hot August Night Neil Diamond concert at the Los Angeles Forum in 2017, one of Diamond’s last concerts, I videoed three minutes of him singing “Dry Your Eyes.” Greta and I were sitting in the balcony and I didn’t have my zoom on, but it’s still the best video of Diamond singing that song–and his band playing it–that I could find on YouTube. The band member playing the trumpet is outstanding. The link to the video is below.
You will notice in the upper right corner of the video, beginning about 35 seconds into it–there is a close-up screen of Diamond, and then at the 1:30 point of the video, the trumpet player appears and plays his solo also on that screen.
Now that the verdict is in, somewhat ending the nine-year ordeal that the McStay Family and Summer’s family have gone through, perhaps those family members will be able to start drying their eyes.
Link to my Dry Your Eyes video on YouTube:
A reminder: the next Senior Meet and Greet will be Thursday, June 27, at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli, Dana Point, 5 to 7 p.m. I always enjoy meeting and getting to know our Champs who are able to attend.
In senior dating, do multiple marriages matter when judging a new mate?
First, welcome to our new Champs who have signed up for the
e-Newsletter in the last couple of weeks. Our group keeps
Part One – Champs respond to the “In senior dating, do multiple marriages matter when judging a new mate?” topic from last week’s column
I’ve often said, and I’ll say it again today: Our Champs are among the most knowledgeable, open, and cooperative group of mature adults on the topic of senior dating and relationships of any group anywhere in North America. Here are responses from nine Champs (5 women, 4 men) to last week’s newsletter topic:
Mary Lou, “One of my dearest friends has been married five times. His most recent marriage is great, at least it looks that way from where I sit. He seems to have a keeper now (in his 70’s) and they have been married for over 10 years.
“I, on the other hand, have only been married once: 17 years, divorced for 36 years. I was only 20 when I got married, and I believe I did it because I thought I was supposed to. It’s what we did back then.
“Senior multiple marriages don’t matter at this stage of my life. If I met a man with whom I clicked, no matter the number of marriages–or even whether or not he had children–I would be glad for him in my life.
I have no intention of getting married, or, living with someone again. I would, however, happily participate in a LAT (Living Apart Together) relationship, no matter how many times he was married. Perhaps I might feel differently if I were younger; now I don’t see the relevance of the number of marriages. I think the man’s heart, health, intelligence (and ability to drive at night – lol) are way more important.
John, “I understand that the number of times a person was married (multiple marriages) is a factor to consider, but, putting a label on someone early in a relationship also denies both people the potential of finding compatibility with each other.
“It may also find the other person cannot commit to one relationship and then you know the checklist was right, but only then. While no one wants a track record like Elizabeth Taylor (eight marriages, seven husbands, married Richard Burton twice) or Zsa Zsa Gabor (nine marriages), they apparently were willing to take that risk each time to find happiness with someone since happiness eluded them from just being rich.
“We are all unique and have to consider all the factors within a person to decide about a potential mate in senior love instead of selecting relationships simply by a checklist that uses cold facts over emotional acceptance.”
Gena, “The number of prior marriages (even five) isn’t as important as is the full disclosure of such events before a budding relationship turns serious.”
Joanne, “One of my theories: if you fall off a cliff it hurts – don’t keep jumping! I’ve been divorced once, and I learned from it. Don’t need to do that again.
“Too many people don’t get to know the other person well enough to make that kind of decision. I’m seeing someone that I really like. We’ve known each other 40 years. That’s a long time and we should know each other by now. He’s been divorced three times. That is a red flag for me, but we’ve discussed this and both agree the LAT (Living Apart Together) relationship works great for us.”
Bruce, “A person has many relationships in life, especially while single. Some work, many do not, so why worry about it too much?
“Enjoy who you are with at the present time and count your blessings that you are with someone you presently enjoy. If it lasts for a year or many more, then so be it, and count yourself fortunate for the good times you had.”
Jon, “I’ve known two women, both with multiple marriages; one was the president of a singles club, the other was a worker in the cafeteria at the agency where I worked. Both claimed they had been married eight or nine times. Ages were only 40’s or 50’s so I don’t know how they found the time for all that. Once was enough for me, I’ll stick with my dogs (and Sharon).”
Stella, “As we age, marriage doesn’t seem quite as important to some. We no longer have the same goals: establishing a home, raising a family, building a future together. Sometimes, it can be a hindrance financially – think social security benefits, taxes, etc.
“And where is the need? We’re not going to have any more babies. We can do the very same things in a loving, caring relationship as in a marriage.
“Take marriage out as a goal, and you open up endless possibilities.”
Dee “I’ve had five marriages. My current sweetheart and I have just enjoyed our two-year anniversary. We will marry eventually, but now is not the right time financially.
“I do not regret any of my marriages because each one was amazing in its own way. All of them served their purpose and made me a better person. And since my last name begins with the letters ‘Cinque,’ which means five in other languages, it’s appropriate somehow!
“Now I have the best relationship of my life, so I have done something right!”
Jim, “It helps your chances for a successful marriage if you choose someone with the same interests as you. If you like to dance, and the other person doesn’t, guess what? You’re going to be spending an awful lot of time not dancing, while your spouse will be spending an awful lot of time hearing complaints.
“Being available and willing to marry doesn’t make them automatically a good candidate for marriage.
“Sadly, people don’t learn from history. We make the same mistakes over and over, and the behaviors that sabotaged our past marriages, we bring into future marriages. Why are people surprised when they get the same results? Another failed marriage.”
Tom’s only comment this week on the “multiple marriages” topic: Oops. We aren’t going to call them “failed marriages” anymore. We will call them “marriages that ended.”
Part 2 – A pleasant experience and a new Champ
Most websites have a banner across the top of each page that shows that website’s major categories. The purpose: to make navigating that site easier.
But it’s there because, on occasion, someone will want to talk to me for a half hour or an hour about a senior relationship issue he or she is having, and doesn’t want to make a therapist or counselor office visit.
Most of the time the person simply wants a man’s point-of-view. I do charge for my time, but am told it’s reasonable.
On Tuesday, a woman from the East coast, who was not a Champ, emailed me via the website and scheduled a consultation. Turns out she was intelligent, friendly and pleasant. She had an issue she wanted addressed immediately. We tackled it together in an hour.
In the end, I feel I benefitted as much from our conversation as she did. Plus, she’s become a new Champ and will likely join the Finding Love After 50 Facebook group.
One of the most rewarding things about my writing is when I hear from readers that I’ve helped them, or when I see a couple out and about around south Orange County who say, “You are the reason we met each other, and look, we’re still together.”
Warms my heart.
Dispensing advice in Singapore along the river walk. But did they listen?
The link to the consulting page on my website:
In senior dating, do multiple marriages matter?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and define “multiple marriages”–for this discussion only–as three or more.
Some Champs shared their opinions.
Lynn, emailed, “Regarding the ‘failed marriages’ issue, I have been married three times, and have viewed each one as a much-needed lesson learned about myself.
“People come into our lives for a season, a reason or a lifetime. It was always important to me to embrace whatever I could learn from the marriage experience and part gracefully and remain friends. I loved that person at one time and love can change.
“It was also important to help my ex’s, to ensure nobody failed—life happens; we control very little. It stings to see so much anger and or hurt when a marriage/relationship ends.”
Tom’s reply to Lynn: “I appreciate your enlightened view on marriage ending. Also, I think Lisa’s definition, ‘failed marriages,’ isn’t quite the right term.
“‘Marriages that ended’ might be a better description. I don’t view my three divorces as failures although at the time they happened I did. They turned out to be blessings in disguise—it just takes time to recognize that.”
Rhonda, two marriages, said, “I find that a future man in my life who has been through some of the same things I have been through to be a plus, while four or five marriages would be a potential red flag.
“I also think a person who has never been married may be a red flag as well. My insight to both of my marriages and what I have learned from them makes me who I am today.
“Experiencing the demise of what once was a seemingly great relationship can help people move forward in some ways. Seeing what didn’t work and what I can do better hopefully will make for a solid relationship the next time around. I see now how valuable communication and true friendship is in a happy couple (like you and Greta).
“I would be somewhat apprehensive to be in a relationship with a man who has no kids. Why? Because I am extremely close to my adult children and I don’t know if someone who isn’t in that same place (at least a bit) can fully understand.”
Champ Kenny wrote, “Potential red flags dating a woman three-times divorced? It would depend on the woman’s intentions/goals in any future relationship. If her sole mission was to remarry for a round four, I’d be running as fast as I could in the opposite direction.
“But on a positive note, Champ Lisa apparently has many great qualities. She seems upbeat, cheerful, super-active and fit while enjoying her Florida retirement lifestyle.
“Not to be judgmental, but I can’t fathom a three-times divorced 70+ age women looking for yet another husband? Better to date casually and if Mr. Wonderful does once again miraculously appear, maybe they should work as a couple into a LAT (Living Apart Together) relationship.”
This past Tuesday night, at the WomanSage panel discussion in Costa Mesa, California, (six Champs attended out of the 44 women guests), Champ Carolyn indicated to me that she would likely avoid any man with three or more marriages.
In my archives, I found a column I wrote on this topic 10 years ago. I picked out what I think are some of the more salient points and am including them here.
A woman named Marjorie had written, “I met a man two weeks ago at a musical theatre performance. I am 63, he is 66. We have been out twice, but we talk every two or three days.
“I have been married three times and think I am a fairly good choice, but he is somewhat reluctant to reveal the number of times he has been married, although I am aware of at least three.
“I haven’t pressed this issue. He has an excellent relationship with his children and grandchildren. It is obvious his most recent marriage was short-lived and bitter. How many marriages before it becomes a red flag?”
I responded: Egad, woman, give it some time! You’ve only been out with him twice, and talked to him, what, maybe five times?
If you press the issue, you may chase him away before you even find out how many times he’s been married. If he’s reeling from a recent bitter marriage, the last thing he wants is to defend himself or talk about it. Why not enjoy the moment and forget about his marriage tally?
Why are you concerned about how many times he’s been married? Are you so intent on getting married again that that’s all you’re worried about?
And besides, Margorie, you aren’t a golden angel yourself, with three divorces under your belt. So, what if he’s had four? That’s only one more than three. If he’s had five or six, now that’s a bit of a red flag, but only if you are eager to get married again.
It isn’t uncommon these days for people our age to have had more than two (or three) marriages. Does that make us tainted? Are we bad people? No. We just lived life.
Were our decisions to marry mistakes? No, they just didn’t last. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember what we were thinking when we decided to marry in our earlier days. Most likely, we thought getting married was the right thing to do. So, we did it.
How about the people who’ve been widowed? They had no choice in losing a spouse. Some have even lost two spouses. Should it even matter how many marriages they’ve had? (Well, if they’ve had four, and all have died under suspicious circumstances, then that might be a red flag).
I’ve had three marriages, and Greta, my partner of 21 years now, (back when this was written, it was 11 years), has also had three. Having the same number of marriages was one of the things we had in common when we were sharing information on the first date, so it was a positive thing that we both had ‘multiple marriages.’
And despite three marriages each, we have the best relationship I could ever hope for (still true after 21 years). We live together but are not married; neither of us feels that it’s necessary (still true after 21 years).
I guess it’s because neither of us would want the number four emblazoned in scarlet upon our chests—but that’s not the reason we haven’t married.
It’s simply: why mess up a good thing?
Also, I’ve never had children. And yet, I’ve got four kids, eight grandkids, and three great grandkids, thanks to Greta. I love them dearly, and I’m pretty sure they appreciate me, so why risk changing that dynamic by getting married?
So, for people “our age,” whatever the heck that means—60, 70, 80, or 90–should the number of marriages really matter? I don’t think so…but when the number reaches four, it’s time to scratch your head. Five or more, well, it depends on the circumstances, so obviously proceed with much caution.
Marriage number one for this Shanghai couple
This column on multiple marriages reminded me of Simon & Garfunkel’s song “Mrs. Robinson,” from the Bookends album, and of course, the movie, “The Graduate,” with Dustin Hoffman. Probably because of these words:
“Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio…Jolting Joe has left and gone away. Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.” The link follows:
In Search of That Special Someone
I don’t want to talk about a dozen red roses here, a box of chocolates there, a romantic dinner in some five-star restaurant, or cuddling in front of a fireplace. For people in committed relationships, they already know that’s the drill on V-Day.
But for many singles without a partner, Valentine’s Day can’t end soon enough. They have other things on their mind. As an example, last week, a very nice single woman sent this email:
She wrote, “I am new to your e-Newsletter and enjoying it. I’m 62, divorced twice and live in Orange County (California). You are my inspiration that there is that special someone out there for me!
“I also heard that you have a Facebook group that might be a good idea for me. I’m also wondering from your years of dealing with the subject if you have some very specific recommendations for dating sites. There are so many out there and I’d rather use a reliable and successful one rather than waste my time and money.”
My reply: “Our Facebook group is called Finding Love After 50. It’s a “closed” group; people must request to join. I keep it closed because there are many people lurking on the Internet and Facebook who have evil intentions, or ulterior motives that would not be beneficial to our group members.
“For example, they might want to promote a cause or a business that benefits only them, or establish contact with our members, only to eventually hurt, defraud, or cheat them. I cannot allow that to happen. I must keep the site safe.
(“Occasionally, a member will post too much drivel, so, I delete those posts. If over-posting continues, I will remove that member from the group–after a friendly warning, of course.)
“I prescreen everyone who requests to join the group. I check out each person’s Facebook page to see what they post, who their friends are, and try to get a feel for, ‘Yup, they’d fit in and contribute to our group.’ If they have no personal information that reveals who they are, I don’t let them in the door.
“You’d be amazed at what’s on people’s Facebook pages. Guns, violence, perversion, distasteful sexual content, extreme political views, and membership in hundreds of other groups, which indicates that the people have no actual interest in what our group stands for.
“You asked about recommendations for dating sites. Let me say this up front. What I said about Facebook misfits also applies to dating websites. Don’t get me wrong, online dating is a great tool for mature singles. It allows you to reach out across city limits, county and state borders and even into other countries. It dramatically increases your chances of meeting ‘that someone special,’ to which you refer.
“Still, you must be very careful and leery when dipping your toes into online dating. There are bad apples looking for vulnerable people age 50-plus and older. Trust your instincts. If something seems ‘not right,’ then it isn’t. Wednesday night, Greta and I saw a TV interview with a woman who got scammed out of her $30,000 of life savings (of which $20,000 was borrowed from neighbors), by a guy she had never met in person. Sounds foolish and very stupid, but it was also sad.
“If you do meet in person, do so in a public place, tell your friends with whom you are meeting, check the person out carefully beforehand, and consider doing a background check.
“Of course, never send or give money to a stranger.
“What sites are best? Match.com still ranks high, in my opinion, but not perfect. I met a neighbor this week who lives a few houses away. He and his woman friend met on Match.
“Our Time is for older people, and again not perfect. Those are two suggestions. I’m sure our Champs will mention other sites as well. Meeting that someone special can happen, however, on any dating site. This book, features the stories of 58 couples who met after age 50 (the title says 50 couples, but it’s indeed 58, which is another story). A few of our Champs are included in the book.
“A woman named Christine Baumgartner is an Orange County relationship coach who is a part of our group. She is a wonderful person and has helped many people in their search for love. She often posts to our Finding Love After 50 group site. Her email is Christine@theperfectcatch.com. Website: www.theperfectcatch.com.
“Christine is leading a panel discussion on Feb 26, 5:30-8:30 p.m., of a woman’s group called WomanSage. I will be on that panel. It will be held at the Center Club, in Costa Mesa, adjacent to the Segerstrom Theatre. That would be a good event for you to attend. For details, go to the website below. Details of the event are on the home page where you see the roses and bottle of champagne. You do not have to be a member of WomanSage to purchase a ticket (www.womansage.org)
“Stay in touch and we’ll help in your search for that special someone.”
I realize that not all of our Champs live close enough to Orange County to attend that evening but people in Southern California would enjoy it.
However, this woman’s situation is similar to millions of other singles across North America. The key to meeting new people, and possibly finding that special someone, is to get out and join new groups. Making women friends is a good way to begin.
An Evening with Rosanne Cash
On Life and Love after 50 e-Newsletter – February 8, 2019
by Columnist Tom Blake
There are two parts to today’s e-Newsletter
Part 1 – An Evening With Rosanne Cash
Seniors often ask for suggestions on where to go when they’d like a little variety in their routines. For our southern California Champs, I can now recommend the magnificent Chapman University MUSCO Center for the Arts, in Orange, California. Most Champs in other parts of the country have similar venues they can visit.
Greta and I had a senior date night there last Saturday (February 2). It was to see Rosanne Cash in concert. Why Rosanne?
When I first met Rosanne Cash, the oldest daughter of Johnny Cash, she was 21. I was the Director of Marketing for Victoria Station restaurant chain, that specialized in prime rib; most of our restaurants were constructed of boxcars and cabooses.
Victoria Station had hired Johnny to sing train-themed radio commercials and it was my job to work with him to ensure the company’s association with him went well.
In January, 1976, I attended a TV taping of a country music show at the NBC studios in Burbank, California, that featured Rosanne’s dad Johnny, John Denver, Glen Campbell, Roger Miller and Mary Kay Place.
At that five-hour taping, Rosanne and I sat together in the front row; we became friends and have remained in contact—albeit sporadically–since then.
I’ve watched in admiration as she has matured into an incredible, prolific, composer and musician. I’ve observed her emerge from under her famous father’s coattails, and, become established on her own merit.
Her music isn’t solely country, it’s called Americana, which includes pop, rock, blues and folk. Rosanne’s career took off with a 1981 title track song and album called “Seven Year Ache.” She has released 15 albums.
In 2015, she won three Grammy awards for best Americana album, “The River & the Thread.”
Rosanne has had 11 songs that reached number one on the country music charts. She has published four books, her most noteworthy, a 2010 memoir, titled, “Composed.”
Last Saturday, February 2, Greta and I attended an evening concert at the magnificent Chapman University, MUSCO Center for the Arts, where Rosanne and her husband, John Leventhal, performed as a duet. She said the MUSCO has the finest acoustics of any venue in which she’s performed in California.
A guy in the audience yelled out, “That’s what Vince Gill said.” She smiled and said, tongue-in-cheek, “Vince is always copying me.” That brought a big laugh from the audience.
Rosanne sang a breathtaking version of the 1967 Bobbie Gentry song, “Ode to Billie Joe, from Rosanne’s “The River & the Thread,” album, and a hauntingly beautiful rendition of “The Long Black Veil,” from The List album, which was based on a hand-written list of 100 greatest American songs her dad gave her when she was 18. She mentioned she still has that list.
She featured songs from her just-released album, “She Remembers Everything,” saying with emotion in her voice, “This is a deeply personal collection of songs for me.”
At the end of the two-hour concert, after playing Seven Year Ache (see link below), Cash and Leventhal received a two-minute standing ovation.
After the second encore song, “Tennessee Flattop Box,” Greta and I went backstage and were able to spend a few minutes talking with her.
When she noticed us, I held up a copy of my 2006 memoir, Boxcars and Prime Rib. Whatever Happened to Victoria Station? and said, “Remember this?”
Front Cover: Prime Rib & Boxcars. Whatever Happened to Victoria Station?
“How could I forget?” Rosanne said, “That’s you and Dad on the cover. Didn’t I endorse the back cover?”
I showed her the back cover with her quote.
Back cover of Tom’s book with endorsement by Rosanne Cash (and Bill Walsh and Lynn Swann)
In a bit of an unusual twist, I had her sign the inside front cover of my book, which she did, writing, “To Tom and Greta, with love, Rosanne Cash.”
She said, “I remember you posted the book and my dad’s radio commercials on your Victoria Station ( http://www.VicSta.com ) website.”
I said, “Yup. When you click on the link, after about 5 seconds, you hear Johnny singing our commercials. He sounds as good as ever.” Note from Tom: If you want to hear Johnny singing the commercials, avoid using the Google Chrome browser (a recent update by them muted the sound). Any other browser works well such as Microsoft Edge.)
I told Rosanne how proud I am of her, and how amazingly talented she’s become. She seemed to appreciate those words, from a friend of her dad’s, whom she’s known for 43 years.
Greta, Rosanne Cash, and Tom on February 2, 2019
It was a special “date-night-out” evening for Greta and me.
Link to Rosanne Cash singing Seven Year Ache:
This article appeared in the San Clemente Times Newspaper on February 14, 2019 and the Dana Point Times on February 22, 2019
Dana Point Times article on Rosanne Cash
Part 2 – New Facebook Page: “Tom Blake Publishing.”
Some Champs have said they’d like to read the e-Newsletter on Facebook so they can comment and interact with other Champs. So, I’ve created a new page just for that purpose. Hopefully, today’s e-Newsletter will be the first one posted. The Facebook page is titled “Tom Blake Publishing.” When you get a chance, check it out. This is not a closed page, anyone can post comments (at least for now) but not post photos. We will see how it goes.
5 Incredible Men Champs
“For me, this Christmas was the best Christmas in 17 years. However, one of my Christmas gifts was delivered by my new Internal doctor and I quote, “The results of your blood test tells me you have Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), albeit minor, early stages. CLL usually grows slowly…you should outgrow it.
“I advised the doctor I had been planning to live to 103. God and I have taken charge.
“In October, I started story boarding a book I have wanted to write for several years, tied into my book, “A Lifetime In Seven Years.” The title of my new book is “A Journey To Me.”
“Now I have several new chapters to write for my book.
“I cherish our friendship and your endless counsel. Let’s make 2019 the best year possible.”
Tom’s Comment: I asked David for permission to use his very personal information. He responded:
“I talked with my children, several grandchildren and, my significant lady. They all agreed if it would provide a more meaningful impact to use my name, we all agreed the information and subject of CLL is so important.
“If it helps just one ‘On Love and Love after 50’ eNewsletter Champ, it would be OK to provide the CLL process, progress, and treatment status.
“I met Marjorie through friends. She is 70 years old, widowed with 4 children, lots of grandchildren. She is a thoughtful, giving, loving woman. She is an antique nut like me. She is always happy and laughing.”
Note from Tom: Dave’s poem, The Sands of Time, is on the Finding Love After 50 website:
Larry Leach, Ann Arbor, Michigan – Larry and I graduated from Jackson High School,
Jackson, Michigan. He graduated two years ahead of me, in my brother’s class. I didn’t know him well, other than he was a heck of a golfer. Later, he won a varsity letter at UM for golf. He is one of the most avid University of Michigan sports fans on earth.
Here is a photo of Tom, Larry and Greta at a Michigan tailgate party in 2017.
Tom, Larry Leach, and Greta at a UM tailgate party before Air Force Academy game in 2017
Larry emailed: “My hat is off to Champs, Chris and Tina, whom you mentioned last week, for their trip to Africa. With love all things are possible.
“I have three friends who are about 94. One goes to UM basketball and football games and acts like an 18-year-old. Another has been to Paris, Las Vegas, Chicago and much more this year. The third is a real live-wire now in Scottsdale, Arizona. If they can do it, the two champs (Chris and Tina) you mentioned have many more trips in store for them.
“Congratulations to them and to you for your super thinking that goes into your weekly newsletter. I know it is Friday morning when I see an email from Tom Blake.”
MARK FLANNERY – Fullerton, California
You will recall that three weeks ago Greta and I visited Mark’s parents’ grave sites in Pago Pago, American Samoa. He had never been to the cemetery, and I had only met Mark and Donna, his significant other, once in Tutor and Spunky’s deli years ago.
On New Year’s Eve. Mark and Donna, came to Dana Point and spent time with Greta and me. They met on Match.com. Donna still teaches.
Front: Mark and Donna. Back: Tom and Greta at Harpoon Henry’s in Dana Point on New Year’s Eve
There was one other aspect of our American Samoa story that I hadn’t shared with Mark. When Greta and I arrived at the grave sites, there was a lava rock perched on his father’s grave. I carried it back from Pago Pago and gave it to him Monday.
TED EVERINGHAM, Attorney at law, Grosse Point Park, Michigan
Note from Tom: Ted and I graduated from Jackson High School, Jackson, Michigan, in the class of 1957. At our 2017 class reunion, we got to chat face-to-face at dinner.
Ted emailed a story titled: A CHRISTMAS MEMORY:
“My Christmas Eve was cold and snowy in 1960. It was a Saturday evening, and I was working at the local radio station in Albion, Michigan, reading top-of-the-hour newscasts and running the control board for Late Date, a popular weekly radio show targeting teenage listeners.
“The program ran from 10 p.m. until Midnight. The show’s host—a senior at the high school in nearby Marshall named Marcia, chose to close her program that Christmas Eve with a bit of verse. It didn’t rise to the dignity of a ‘poem,’ but it expressed in rhyme an important idea, in simple, homespun language appropriate to the time and place.
“I heard the first line or two through my headset, and then for a reason that I have forgotten (if I ever knew), I turned to look at the host through the glass that separated the control room from the studio where she sat. I discovered, to my surprise, that she was not reading the verse, but reciting it from memory, and she was speaking directly to me through that glass.
“Here is her Christmas wish to me that long-ago evening:
To make complete your gladsome Christmas Day,
I would not bring a single thing to you,
But I would come and take some things away:
I’d take away all trouble from your heart,
Each pain and sorrow I would have relieved;
And every pain that caused a single smart,
And every hour through which you sorely grieved.
I’d have them all be gone — forever gone —
Forgotten, like the things that cannot be;
And then each hour would be a joyful one,
For only good things would be left you see.
John Johnson – Hagerstown, Maryland (80 miles northwest of Washington, D.C.). John commutes about an hour toward Baltimore and works for Northrop Grumman; he has been a Champ for longer than I can remember and has contributed often to newsletters.
On December 23, John posted a wonderful message on the Finding Love After 50 Facebook page. It is too long to include in the newsletter, but the topic is: dragging old baggage into a new, fresh relationship. His words demonstrate that the men in our group are very introspective, warm and giving.
His wrap-up words: “How 2019 plays out is up to you and this is a chance for a new transition within you even when everything else remains the same. Make it a good one and start with an inner smile that flows to your lips to share with others.”
Happy New Year. I feel blessed to have you all as friends.
Senior travel articles should make you happy
On Life and Love after 50 e-Newsletter – November 9, 2018
by Columnist Tom Blake
My partner Greta and I are on an 82-day Grand Asia & Pacific Cruise. We have just completed 40 days and tomorrow, November 10, we will visit Singapore for two days.
This week, I received this email from a woman Champ, one of my e-Newsletter readers. I did not edit it, this is the way it came in:
She wrote: “Sounds like a trip of a life time, but Tom did you ever think that maybe these wonderful trips that you take and share with us maybe is a depressed feeling for those who cannot take these trips! for many reasons, one for lack of money or health problems, lacking a partner to go with, I know it makes me a little down at times, just a thought for you.”
My response: I appreciate you taking your time to express your thoughts. I am very aware there may be other Champs who feel as you do.
In the first newsletter about this trip, even before we left Los Angeles on September 30, I wrote: “Greta and I are truly blessed in our retirement, to be able to physically and financially afford to travel to distant lands. We do not take that for granted. We realize there will come a day when we can’t. And we also realize that not all seniors can take a trip like this.”
When I blog or write about travels, many Champs and newspaper readers tell me they enjoy traveling with us vicariously. Nearly all say they want to hear about the trips.
The last thing in the world I want to do is make people feel depressed by my writing.
Greta and I worked very hard to be able to travel. She was a special education teacher for 31 years who raised four children as a single mom. I worked until I was 75. So, we feel we earned the right to travel as we do.
And, I just happen to be a journalist. I write for nine newspapers and every week I publish an e-Newsletter at no cost to my Champs. For years, the newsletter was titled “Finding Love After 50” and I charged for it.
Several years ago, I made the decision that I wanted to write about more than just finding love later in life. I wanted to write about whatever I felt I could do a good job on. So, I changed the name to “On Life and Love after 50.”
And when I travel, I can do a good job writing about it because I am personally experiencing it. I think Greta and I represent people in their mid-to-late 70s well, by setting an example of discovering these countries on our own, seldom taking organized tours. We walk, sweat, are aware of our surroundings and try to avoid uneven sidewalks and steps, and understand the different currencies in all of these countries. It isn’t always easy, or pretty how we do it, but we’re out there.
I stopped charging for the newsletter so that people wouldn’t feel they were being shortchanged by not receiving what they signed up and paid for. And if they didn’t like what they read, they could simply unsubscribe, or just not read that week’s edition.
I have received so many positive comments about these few travel newsletters that I’m totally surprised—and inspired to keep writing about this 82-day trip. One week I had close to 40 positive responses.
We have reached the half way point on this trip.
Champ Andree emailed this week: “I love hearing all about your travels. Thank you for sharing and please keep sharing. Have a fabulous time wherever your headed in this terrific adventure. Peace and safe travels.”
Journalists can’t always write about what makes people happy. That’s not a realistic view on life. I hope I haven’t depressed too many people with these tales of our experiences. If anything, I’m trying to inspire seniors to get out and experience life as best they can.
One thing I will say. Not taking a trip because you don’t have a partner with whom to travel is no reason why not to go. There are many single women on this ship traveling by themselves. One is 97-years-old. And there are many women who are traveling with women friends. There are single women in walkers, electric scooters, and using canes. That didn’t stop them; one can only admire their dedication to living life to the fullest, despite their physical challenges.
So, to this woman reader I say this: If I write about a senior dating success story, where two seniors have found happiness together–and you haven’t–should I stop writing about dating successes? Of course not. The same goes for our travels. If you find reading these positive stories makes you depressed, you have a choice: don’t read that week’s issue, or (and I hope you don’t do this), simply stop reading what I write.
I put my heart and soul into my writing, and that’s the way it’s going to be.