The loyalty of Champs

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  July 3, 2020
                                      The Loyalty of Champs

by Columnist Tom Blake

My newspaper-column writing has an anniversary this week: 26 years. The first article was published on July 7, 1994; it was titled, “Home alone with only dogs for company.”

Six years later, I started writing eNewsletters. Combining the newspaper articles and eNewsletters, I estimate I’ve written approximately 4,300 pieces.

Some Champs have been subscribers for nearly 20 years. Their loyalty amazes and pleases me. Today, I share Beckie’s story; she’s been a Champ for 12 years.

                                    In 2009, Beckie first emailed

Beckie’s story was told in the August 28, 2009 newsletter, which was titled “Old flames reunite after 41 years.”

Excerpts from that 2009 newsletter follow:

“Beckie, Raleigh, North Carolina, signed up for this newsletter after attending a presentation I made at last year’s (2008) AARP National Event & Expo in Washington, D.C.

“Three and a half years ago, at age 56, Rick, Beckie’s husband, died, having lived with ALS for five years. They had married 36 years before while attending Colorado State University (CSU).”

In that 2009 newsletter, Beckie was quoted: “Being alone had become my new normal. But I did not want to spend the rest of my life alone. Finding someone online seemed unlikely. Instead, I thought about Ray, a man I had gone out with my freshman and sophomore years at CSU.

“In the summer of 2008, I found Ray on LinkedIn, thought about contacting him, but wasn’t ready. After Christmas, I emailed him, which started an email correspondence.

“The more we corresponded, the more we found we had in common—a similar sense of humor, values, love of words, how we handle money and various likes and dislikes.

“In March, Ray flew to Raleigh, took me out on a Saturday night and left on Sunday. We found we still had chemistry in addition to a strong friendship we had been building.

“We’ve spent numerous long weekends seeing each other. We celebrated our 60th birthdays together. He is three weeks older. My children are happy for me.

“I know Rick would be happy too. During his illness, Rick had jokingly said numerous times that he would pick out my next husband for me. He would be surprised that he in fact knew the man with whom I want to spend the rest of my life.

“The relationship with Ray grows stronger as the days and months pass. We are both practical people. We have looked for but found no red flags. Being together is natural. We are very thankful we found each other again.”

                                        Four years later in 2013

On June 28, 2013, after reading that day’s newsletter, which was titled, “Older singles’ dilemma: marriage, live together, live separately?” Beckie emailed me.

She wrote, “What is the consensus of what to call the person you are living with if you have no plans to marry?

“Our reason to not marry is I would lose my late husband’s pension. ‘Boyfriend’ sounds juvenile for a 60-year-old. When I was younger, I never thought I’d be living with someone unless we were married, even though I grew up in the 1960s. But who knew how circumstances would color that thought?”

I responded to Beckie: “I am pleased that you’ve had the good sense not to remarry, which would have meant sacrificing the pension.”

                                Seven years later June 25, 2020

Two weeks ago, Beckie responded to the “Don’t let the old man in” column.

She emailed, “Ray and I have been together for 11 years and lived together for 10. We are both 70, valiantly trying not to let the “old man” or “old woman” in.

 Beckie and Ray–together for 11 years

“Ray plays guitar; he learned to play Toby Keith’s song, ‘Don’t let the old man in.’ He will share it with his guitar group when they can safely get together again.”

I appreciate the loyalty of Beckie and our history of keeping in touch: 2009, 2013, and now in 2020. I hope similar history can be recreated with other Champs who have been with me for years.  

Oh, by the way, to answer Beckie’s 2013 question: what do living-together lovers call each other when not married? How about: “My meant to-be mate?” (MMTBM)

                                                        Part 2 – July 4, 2020

On Wednesday, a gentleman named Robert sent me an email. The subject line: JOHNNY CASH & That Ragged Old Flag

Robert’s email included a download of Johnny being interviewed by radio and TV personality Ralph Emery, in which Emery asks Johnny if he would speak the words of the song, “Grand Old Flag,” which Johnny wrote in 1975. I went online and found that entire segment, including Johnny’s opinion about flag burning, of which I had never heard Johnny speak in the two years I worked with him (link to video below).

I wrote back to Robert: “Thanks for sending that. I personally was present when Johnny sang that song, many, many times. So, as we approach the 4th, you made my entire week and weekend. I am so blessed to have known Johnny and June and to have heard him sing the song live. 

“That was long, long, ago. In 1976, a year after Johnny wrote Grand Old Flag, I first met John and June. Sometimes, I sit and wonder if it really happened to me. Here’s proof it did, in the parking lot of the Victoria Station restaurant, Miami, Florida.

June, Johnny holding John Carter, and Tom         photo by Tom

Happy 4th Robert!

HAPPY JULY 4TH. Remember to wear masks and social distance if you are watching the fireworks (if not canceled. Ours in Dana Point, Ca., were canceled). COVID-19 doesn’t disappear at night. And all of the “ooh’s” and “ah’s” and lack of wind could make the situation even more contagious if too close to others.

Video of Johhny Cash interview:

People who email but don’t respond and Champs who don’t let age hold them back

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – December 31, 2018

by Tom Blake Columnist

Happy New Year – There are two parts to today’s eNewsletter. 

Part 1 – People who send emails but don’t respond to my reply

Part 2 – Champs who don’t let age hold them back

Part 1 – People who send emails but don’t respond to my reply

Often, I receive emails from Champs that I’d like to include in future e-Newsletters. I respond and ask the senders a few more questions and permission to use their information and names.

But, for some reason, some people don’t respond back. There are two examples of that today.

The first email was sent by Champ Toni, responding to a newsletter article published in August about a disgruntled woman who blamed men for her dating problems. Toni lives on the west coast, she wrote:

“I was widowed 9 years ago when I was 53. Mike was 48 and died unexpectedly in his sleep.

“I loved my job and as I’m too young for Social Security, I have continued to work. This keeps me busy. I was also fortunate to have joined a grief share group and a singles Meetup group in my area. Not a dating group – just singles getting together for movies, dinner, dancing, bowling, winery visits–activities that are not fun when alone as a single.

“I agree with what ‘disgruntled’ said in your newsletter on several points. In my experience and the women in my circle have also realized, the men require a lot more from the women than the women require of men. For example, a woman’s appearance (age – weight), dating /marriage history, and financial stability are important to men.

“Not all men, but the majority want younger companions. Most want FWB (friends with benefits) and are not interested in a monogamous committed relationship. Because of an estimated ratio at my age of two-to-one women to men– the men call the shots and can take their pick. Bravo for them. And Why not?

“I think more women are ok being single than men. Perhaps that’s because the women took care of the family and the house and they’re finally getting a much- deserved rest and can now do what they want when they want and don’t have to be accountable to anyone.

“Studies show divorced and widowed men tend to date, hook up and remarry faster than the women do. Is it because men want to be taken care of? Are they missing a companion to go places and do things with? Do they still feel the need to prove their virility to themselves and others?

“Several men in our circle of friends say they envy the gals. If we want to go to a movie or dinner, we call up the girls and go out. You seldom see a group of older guys doing this, unless they golf. My one guy friend told me he thought the women dealt with single life much better than men. He says, ‘You ladies like your own company.’ And I agree.

“Speaking for myself, I would welcome another love in my life – I had a great marriage and believe it’s possible again. But, I don’t need another person ‘to complete me.’ I do coffee and lunch dates with a few becoming dinner dates. I’m not so desperate that I’m fixated on dating just to get out of the house.

“I try not to compare dates – and while there is compromise – for me, some things are not negotiable. I’m not into ‘playing house’ or the friends-with-benefits arrangement. It may work for some, but it’s not my thing.

“Being single doesn’t have to be a curse. It can be a wonderful opportunity to learn about yourself and grow in many areas. More singles should learn to depend on themselves and enjoy their own company. They may surprise themselves!

“I had friends putting their two cents into this email. We enjoy your e-Newsletters.”

Tom’s comment: I wrote Toni back and told her I’d like to include her email in a future e-Newsletter and that what she wrote was well stated and nicely done. I asked what her future work plans were. And I wanted to give her two-cents friends credit for their inputs as well.

But, as sometimes happens, I didn’t hear anything back from her. So, I held off using her information until today. I felt that her comments would start the New Year off with some interesting food for thought.

Example number two of people who send emails and then don’t respond when I write them back.

While I was on the cruise, I received an email from a 72-year-old widow named Cheryl. She had seen-in previous eNewsletters-that I had included some bios of single Champs. So, she sent her bio information in along with a nice photo of her in a red dress, but she didn’t mention in what part of the country she lived.

I felt that to be important so that men would know if she lived close enough to them to pursue communication with her. I wrote her back and asked.

She never responded. So, I didn’t include her bio in a newsletter. Perhaps she’ll resend her information with that information in it.

I don’t understand why people put a great amount of time, thought, and effort into writing an email, and then, they don’t respond when I respond to them.

Note from Tom (for the rest of the story, see the January, 2019 titled “Cheryl in the red dress.” She did email; I didn’t get it on board the ship.

Part 2 – Champs who don’t let age hold them back

You may recall Chris and Tina. They married two years ago. They had the longest, long-distance relationship on record, 5,440 or so miles for 14 years, between San Clemente, California and England.

              Champs Chris and Tina –making the most out of life

Champ Chris emailed last week, “Tomorrow (Monday) Tina and I are flying from England (where Tina has relatives) to Cape Town, South Africa, for two weeks. We will be spending the holidays there. It should be an interesting adventure. We will be staying in five different hotels in that area. This includes a wonderful Christmas dinner overlooking the city and Table Mountain. (We have seen the menu and it looks great).

“And, New Year’s Eve will be at a seaside restaurant, where the Atlantic meets the Pacific. We understand you can see where the different color waters come together. We are also going on a three-day safari. NO! We are not sleeping on the ground in a tent. I did enough of that in Vermont, when the kids were little. I want a five-star hotel with a shower and room service.

“Tina and I have been talking about this trip and planning it, for over a year. Hopefully it is everything we want it to be, because this could be our last big adventure. I will be 85 in January, and as some of you know, it gets harder and harder to travel as you get up in years. (Tina is 77).

“So, I want to wish you all a happy and healthy New Year. May it be everything you would like it to be.”

Note from Tom: For an interesting update on Chris and Tina, visit the e-Newsletter on this site dated January 25, 2019 on Decluttering. The link:

Chris and Tina decluttering