Senior dating. Big Yellow Taxi

Tom Blake Picket Fence Media

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 29, 2022

Senior dating, wasting her time? Big Yellow Taxi

Last week, I received an email with this subject line: “Both widowed, he is living an amazing life.” The email had been sent from a link on my website. I did not recognize the sender’s name or email address.

The message read: “Dating a high school friend. We really connect. We are both widowed. I have kids…they are fairly independent. He is an amazing father of three daughters ages 45 to 51 and has seven grandchildren and a 96-year-old mom living near him.

“We love each other…I think. But we are in a long-distance relationship. He is in California; I am in Illinois. He texts me his day-to-day happenings and we talk on the phone every 10 days. It’s been four and a half months since we’ve been together.

“He had a knee replacement and is recovering well. He seems all on board and his daughters seem receptive of me. But I am afar. I feel like a vaycay gal.

“Where do I fit? Am I wasting the time I have left? What do you think?”

I felt it was not my place to advise her about senior dating, wasting her time or not. I’m a columnist, not a relationship counselor. Besides, she didn’t provide enough information to give her an intelligent answer. I get questions like this often from single seniors. In responding to a situation like this, it’s best for me to ask questions which might nudge her to answer her own question.

I emailed her back. For openers, I asked, “What is a vaycay gal?” Followed by:

“How often have you been together in person? 

“Did you re-meet at a reunion?

“What do you want? To move to California or him to Illinois? Who would relocate?

She responded: “A vacay gal is when you are in a long-distance relationship, but you only take vacations together. I knew him in high school. We are both 72 and widowed. We reunited at our last reunion in 2018.

“A year ago, we started emailing, texting and talking. He visited me in Illinois for a week last October. I visited him in California at the end of December. We really hit it off. We would have visited again but he had knee replacement surgery March 8. He is doing well and will visit me May 15 for three weeks. Plus, we have a trip planned to Hawaii in September.”

And then she added: “I doubt he would move because his three daughters, seven grandkids and mother live in the same California town.

“I want a partner in life and a loving relationship.”

I responded to her: “Wasting your time? Heck, I think you’ve got a good thing going. What do you expect him to do?”

“You didn’t answer the relocate question: “Would you be willing to move to California and would he want that?”

We’ll see what she says. Her emails remind me of a 1972 song by Joni Mitchell called “Big Yellow Taxi.” More specifically, this stanza.

“Late last night, I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi took away my old man

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?”

The final sentence “Don’t it always seem to go. That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?” is repeated five times in the song.

Maybe, she’ll realize she’s got a good thing before the big yellow taxi takes him away.

Senior long-distance relationship challenges

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  November 8, 2019 

by Columnist Thomas P Blake

Champ couple overcomes senior long-distance relationship challenges and now faces another challenge

Our most-written-about Champ couple is in the news again. Yes, I’m referring to Chris and Tina Anastasio, San Clemente, California residents. Most of you will recall that I’ve written about them before on a couple of occasions.

Why the hoopla about Chris and Tina (Christine)? Because, in the 26 years I’ve been writing newspaper columns and newsletters, I’ve never met a senior couple who has endured and overcome as many senior relationship challenges as Chris and Christine.

Christine and Chris in front of Richard Henry Dana statue in Dana Point Harbor (photo by Tom)

To refresh your memory: Their story together began in 2004. Chris, as a cruise ship dance host on a cruise ship, danced with Christine, a lovely widow of 18 months from England. After the cruise, they started corresponding, which began the longest, long-distance relationship of which I’m aware—5,419 miles, San Clemente to England.

Over the years, when they could, they visited each other, and took trips together.

In 2009, I published a book titled, “How 50 Couples Found Love After 50.” In their story, which is included in the book, Chris states, “Every time we get together it’s like a honeymoon.”

After 13 years of being an unwed, long-distance couple, Chris and Christine married on February 12, 2017, at the Dana Point California Yacht Club. Greta, and I attended the wedding, and I wrote a column about them.

Tina and Chris Anastasio–tying the knot in Dana Point in February, 2017 (photo by Tom Blake)

But their challenges weren’t entirely behind them. Christine still had to return to England from time-to-time because she wasn’t eligible to permanently stay in the United States.

So, a month after their wedding, Chris and Christine started the legal process of securing a two-year, temporary, green card for her, so she wouldn’t have to leave the country so often.

A year later, in February, 2018, Chris emailed: “After jumping through all kinds of hoops last year, we finally had Christine’s green card hearing today. It was the last stop in the process.

“We were told to bring pictures, papers, letters or anything else that would prove we were a REAL couple. Christine suggested we bring your How 50 Couples Found Love After 50 book to the green card hearing.

50 couples cover

“During the interview, I mentioned that we had become kind of famous because of our long-distance relationship you’ve written about. I said we were featured in your book, and handed it to him, with our page bookmarked.

“He started reading. His face lit up. He said, ‘This is great, I don’t have to see anything else. You have your green card.’

“It was amazing. That’s all he looked at. We were out of there in less than a half hour. You had a hand (and a big hand at that) in getting Christine her green card. Thanks for your help.”

Their green-card story is why I wrote a second article about them.

I think their life-together achievement is remarkable. I’ve had seniors complain that someone who lives a few miles away is geographically undesirable. Traveling to another state to meet? Unthinkable.

And, yet Chris and Christine stuck together being 5,419 miles away. Chris is now 85, and Christine turns 79 this December. Chris is well-known in south Orange County for his charity work.

One other thing about Chris, who is a US Navy veteran. On the first anniversary of 9/11, at age 69, he put the American flag on the “A” marker buoy via a kayak, just outside of Dana Point Harbor beyond the jetty in the Pacific Ocean.

Chris said, “I tended the flag every day from a kayak and changed it about every three months until I turned 80 and had heart surgery. The Dana Point Yacht Club said they liked it and would maintain it.” (Note from Tom: this week, I verified with a guy who does stand up paddling in the ocean that the flag is still on that buoy).

And now, another challenge has arisen

This week, Chris emailed an update: “Christine’s two-year green card expires soon. So, we must go back in and apply for Christine’s 10-year, permanent green card. Is it okay with you if we carry your “How 50 Couples Found Love After 50” book to the government office again? It brought great luck to us two years ago.

My reply: “Of course. Let me provide you with a fresh copy. Hopefully, it will help you get Christine’s permanent green card.

Also, not letting age slow them down, Christine and Chris added, “We are taking a cruise over the Holidays. We board the ship in Singapore December 18, and disembark in Dubai, January 2, 2020. We will watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks from the deck of the ship in Dubai Harbor.”

Christine and Chris Anastasio are one of the most inspiring–and indefatigable–Champ couples I’ve ever come across.

Senior long distance dating – a challenge – but not impossible

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 19, 2019

Senior long distance dating — a challenge for seniors — but not impossible

Two weeks ago, we wrote about a widower, age 75, whose wife passed away two years before. He’s dating again. After being shunned by a widow he met at church, he turned to Internet dating sites to try to find a mate.

He emailed, seeking advice. He said he met a woman on the OurTime website, who lives 845 miles away. He was going to send her air fare to visit him.

I suggested, instead of sending her air fare, he should look for a woman who lives close to him. Getting involved in a long-distance relationship might be too much effort for a man his age.

Champs responded, sharing their opinions about senior long-distance dating.

Cynthia emailed: “Forget about long-distance relationships! If you can’t meet people in person within a 50-mile circumference, then it’s not worth it.

“You need to simply look around your own town, church, neighborhood, grocery store, club, senior center or wherever you go for entertainment.”

Art, said, “This man should be able to meet eligible women within an easy driving distance from where he lives. I am in a relationship with a lady I met online, and she lives only 15 minutes from me.

“Together, we belong to several groups, and there are at least four women for every man who attend events. Perhaps he is unfamiliar with, but unless he lives in a very rural part of the country, there are probably Meetup groups in his area.

“A woman living 845 miles away is too far for a meet and greet lunch or dinner, and the cost and inconvenience would make a possible romance very difficult.”

Susan chimed in, “If you are lonely, join a club, an exercise or Meetup group, volunteer, etc.  There are so many ways to not be lonely. If you enjoy children, volunteer at your local school or library. ( is not a dating site, but a place to meet lots and lots of new friends, and when you meet lots of new people, who knows what could evolve? )

“When I was off work for a few months, I volunteered at our senior center. I was NEVER lonely there. Lots of seniors hanging around wanting to talk with someone.”

Joanie stated, “This 75-year-old man should make sure he looks extra good, smells nice, wears fitting, well-cut clothes, gets a haircut and takes care of his skin.

“And then, he should take ballroom dance lessons. There are tons of wonderful single women who dance, most looking for a nice man. And there is a shortage of men. He will meet someone quickly.”

Gina added, “I think online dating can be an effective tool, but one should weed out the people who are long distance. Potential mates should be within 50 miles and willing to meet within a few weeks of making a connection via text messaging and phone.”

Linda felt differently; she said, “I think he should visit the woman 845 miles away, see where and how she lives. You can tell a lot about people based on how they live.”

Liza emailed, “My advice for your lonely widower is to slow down and relax.  Smelling desperation on a member of the opposite sex is a huge buzz kill.  Most seniors don’t want to be alone but that big of a rush would scare off any decent woman–but would certainly appeal to a scammer.”

Shelley said, “Yes, indeed; loneliness can cloud a widowed person’s thinking! I lost my beloved husband of 39 years five years ago. My judgement was impaired for at least 2 1/2 years!

“The widower should look for a woman he can meet in person and not have to send plane fare to. That has scam written all over it.’”

                  And yet, long distance relationships can work

A while back, I wrote about Sally, a widow, from New Jersey, who had been married 41 years. Two years before, she had corresponded with a widower (married 48 years) online. But he lived in Atlanta.

Through the online site, she sent him a message that she was removing herself from the site and included her personal email address. He didn’t receive her message.

When her online site tried to get her to renew, she checked her mailbox, one last time, and found a message from him. She said, “I emailed and we picked up writing again. I guess it was meant to be!”

They agreed to be just pen-pals. “No pictures. No, ‘Are you the right one?’ and, no plans to meet,” says Sally. However, a senior long-distance relationship began.

“We were very careful in the beginning when we wrote. We never mentioned the names of our children or grandchildren, just funny stories about different things. We both had long, stable marriages and our families were the center of our lives. We had successful careers. Neither felt threatened by the past.”

Then their arrangement changed. She said, “About 8 months into the pen-pal thing, he tells me not to get serious or marry anyone until we meet. At that point we exchanged photos, talked on the phone, and it kept getting better.

“He came to NJ for a two-day visit and stayed a week, and then kept returning every two-three weeks. I visited him in Georgia.”

Sally liked the Atlanta-area lifestyle. She visited a recreation community catering to all ages and particularly liked the quaint homes with porches. She told her gentleman friend that if she relocated, it would be incidental to–and not dependent upon–their relationship. “Marrying again was not in our plans,” said Sally.

Sally sold her New Jersey home and bought a home in the recreation community. She and her widower friend maintain separate residences, and have a LAT (Living Apart Together) relationship.

“We spend weekends together; we cook for one another once a week. We love to shop together. He visits his family and I visit mine, keeping these issues apart,” says Sally. “I am very lucky. It’s an open, honest, loving relationship without it ever getting routine, stale, or to the point of too much togetherness. We are committed to one another, but, observe that space that people need.

“We never intended it to turn out this way, but we gave it a chance. As seniors, we accept who we are and enjoy what we have now.”

And, you Champs likely remember Chris and Tina. They were 14 years in a long, long-distance relationship: England and California. Nearly 4,400 miles. But they made it work. Now they are married. She’s in her 70s and he’s in his 80s.

And, how about Champs Terry and Daeng. California and Thailand? Want to see happiness? Look below.

 Champs Terry and Daeng–who says long distance romance can’t be fun

                              Tom’s five senior long-distance dating tips

  1. Try local first. Focus on what’s near you. There are many options, as mentioned above, where seniors can go to meet new people and make new friends. Who knows? They might meet a potential mate by being out and about. is not a dating site, but it has endless choices to pursue activities that one might enjoy—like learning a language or hiking, and there’s no cost. Senior centers will have like-minded people who want to chat. Volunteering is a great way to pay it forward and meet people at the same time.
  2. If you Internet date, perhaps Cynthia’s and Gina’s suggested 50-mile dating radius is a good rule of thumb. However, it depends. Does the man still drive? Does the woman still drive? What happens if they become a couple? Who moves? Or, does the relationship become a Living Apart Together (LAT) relationship?
  3. Seniors must realize there are lots of scammers online, even on the most reputable senior dating sites—OurTime,, and, for example. Regardless of what the sites claim, scammers slip through the cracks and target vulnerable, lonely seniors.
  4. When you make contact with someone who lives near you, the two of you can meet in person and decide if there is a mutual attraction, without the challenges and expense of traveling long distances. Keep your search as close to home as reasonable.
  5. Long-distance relationships can work. Before giving up on your Internet site, check every message, just in case. It only takes one, as Sally discovered, but we never know which one.

Advice for a lonely widower

  On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 5, 2019 

by Columnist Tom Blake

Columnist Tom Blake gives blunt advice for a lonely widower

A 75-year-old Champ is a lonely widower of two years. He emailed me last week seeking dating advice. This is the third time he has written me.

In January, he asked if I thought he had a chance for a relationship with a widow of nine years, to whom he’d been introduced by friends at church. She was 65 and he wondered if the 10-year age difference might matter to her. I told him that it shouldn’t, unless she had a fear of suffering another loss.

He also said she told him she had no interest in being romantically involved. He hoped if he accepted her “no romance” position, she might change once she got to know him. I told him to be patient.

They had six dates in six weeks. She told him she didn’t have the energy to go out more than once per week. Despite her “no relationship wanted” type of statements, he stated, “I really want to be with this woman.”

When he sent her flowers on Valentine’s Day, she telephoned him in tears, and broke off the relationship by saying, “‘This is what I was afraid of, I can’t do this anymore. We can still be friends, I’ll see you around at church. Goodbye.”

My impression was, he was trying too hard, probably out of loneliness and desperately wanting a mate. After all, loneliness can cloud thinking.

Two months passed.  Three weeks ago, he emailed again, “I’m embarrassed, I went back on Dating site OurTime. I found a lovely Christian lady several states from me, 845 miles away, although I didn’t want a long-distance relationship.

“She is a three-year widow, about my age. First, we messaged on the OurTime website, as OurTime tells you to do. Then, we graduated to texting via phone. Now we talk on the phone most every evening.”

                All seemed to be going well…until this info surfaced

He continued, “She has confessed she was scammed last year for over $190,000. She had to file for chapter 7 and get an equity loan on her home. I was taken back. Red flags went up in my mind.

I don’t feel she is trying to scam me. She hasn’t asked for money. She said most things have been settled with her lawyer and she will be fine except she will have to pay back, over the next 10 years, a $11,000 equity loan.

“The thing that nags at me: why is she still on a dating website after being scammed?

“I have invited her to visit me this June so we can get to see each other. I will supply the round-trip ticket money so she can make the trip.

“We have been communicating three weeks and neither one of us have mentioned feelings for each other, other than wanting to get to know each other more. I don’t have feelings for her–I like her but I’m not about to get crazy about her–until I spend time with her.

“Do you think I am making a mistake here? Do you see any red flags I’m missing because my heart is involved?

I responded: “Don’t be embarrassed about online dating. But be careful. You asked for my opinion. I am going to be blunt; I don’t want you to get scammed. Loneliness is causing you to not think clearly. Yes, I see red flags.

After only three weeks, you say your heart is involved. That’s foolish. You are falling in love or are at least infatuated with an image, not a real person. Until people meet face-to-face, they can’t have realistic feelings for each other, only imaginary feelings. Have you talked on Skype, where you see her?

Also, again in just three weeks, you are already offering to send her money.

June is a long way off. If you want to see her, why don’t you visit her soon? Do not send this person money for a round-trip ticket. The next thing you might hear from her is, “I’m stuck at the airport (see airport below). I had to change my ticket. Can you send me another $1,000? I will pay you when I see you.”

This may be the airport  from which she would be flying 

I think you are slowly being reeled into a scam. You even admitted that you suspect that.

Please read the reviews about OurTime on Consumer

You will notice that similar scams have happened to many, many people posting to Consumer Affairs. Scams happen to men as well as women.

“And finally, do you want a long-distance relationship with a woman so far away? Take a deep breath. Find a nice woman near you. Maybe even another church woman sitting in a different pew than the woman you met there in January. Don’t be so eager.”

He replied, “Please ask Champs for their opinions.”

Part 2 – Regarding seniors saving money

Ellen, “Incredible article last week on ‘cutting the cord.’ Keep sending those money-saving tips!”

Joel, “Outstanding compilation of useful info… maybe you should start blogging about bargains for seniors. Many of us don’t have time to shop around the maze of information.

If you do more on this topic, check out ordering from Google Express (free delivery from many stores if you buy enough) or Walmart (some free delivery, free pickup). I am buying all my groceries this way because of price, selection and ease of shopping/buying. Won’t suit those who like to touch before they buy, but it works for me since I know exactly what I want, most of the time.

Comment to Joel from Tom: “I enjoy buying groceries in person because it gets me out into the world to chat and interact with people. As we age, and we don’t get out as often as we used to, having social interaction with people is essential for our mental well-being.

Virginia, “Prescription information, another new scam? Several seniors I know have found their prescriptions are shorted by 2 to 5 pills per bottle, and it’s apparently not an error or a coincidence. Please advise our Champs to take time to count the pills on each prescription as soon as they get them (particularly from CVS). If short, call back the pharmacy immediately and report it (or return in person and report it).

“Gone are the ‘Mayberry Days.’  tsk.”

Note from the publisher: Tom’s article on this topic appeared in:




The McStay Family Deserves Closure

The McStay Family Deserves Closure

by Columnist Tom Blake – Orange County California

“On Life and Love after 50” e-Newsletter – January 11, 2019

In 1986, I met Susan McStay in Texas while on a business trip. A long-distance relationship between Dallas and San Rafael, California, where I lived, began.

She had two teenage boys: Mikey, who lived with her, and Joey, who lived with his stepdad in Houston. I called her Spunky, because that’s what she was.

About a year later, Susan and Mikey moved to San Rafael to live with me. I had not met Joey McStay. A few months later, Joey and Susan were talking on the phone. I got on the line, and said to Joey, “Someday, I hope to meet you,” having no idea when that would be.

Less than 24 hours later, Joey McStay called his mom. “I’m at San Francisco Airport, can you pick me up?” He had come to California without notice, entirely on his own. We now had a family of four.

Susan didn’t like living in Marin County; she felt people there weren’t as friendly as in Texas. Her boys wanted to live in “So-Cal,” where they could surf. I was ready for a location change as well.

In my business travels, I checked out Orange County, California. One day, I found a new home in Laguna Niguel, and decided to buy it. I called Susan and said: “Pack your bags. I bought a home a mile from the ocean. I’m putting the San Rafael home on the market.”

We moved our belongings in a U-Haul truck, with Joey and Susan following behind, driving a car. A few weeks later, Susan and I married at the Courthouse in Santa Ana.

Joey and Mikey graduated from Dana Hills High School. In 1988, I opened Tutor and Spunky’s Deli in Dana Point. Mikey worked there briefly. Joey part-timed at Costco.

We moved again, this time to Monarch Beach, even closer to the ocean so the boys could walk to Salt Creek Beach to surf. In 1994, Susan and I divorced. She was close to her boys. She once said to me, “Blood is thicker than water.” She and the boys moved to San Clemente.

In 1998, I met Greta. In 2001, I leased my Dana Point home and moved to San Clemente to live with Greta. From time to time, I’d see one or more of the McStays around town. I recall Greta and I seeing Joey and his family at Sonny’s Pizza.

On February 4, 2010, Joey, his wife Summer McStay, and their sons Gianni McStay, age 4, and Joseph Jr McStay, age 3, went missing from their Fallbrook, California home. Five days later, their car was found in a parking lot adjacent to the Mexican border, giving an impression that their disappearance may have been voluntary. People and authorities were baffled; I sure was. That wasn’t the Joey that I had helped raise, albeit for just five years.

Things didn’t sort. Food had been left on the table, their beloved dogs were left outside with no food or water, and there was $80,000 in a bank account. Their situation received national news coverage: People MagazineDateline, you name it.

I recall naively thinking perhaps Joey would call me one day and say, “Hey Tom, can you come down to the border to pick us up? We want to come home.”

The mystery of the family’s whereabouts lasted nearly four years. On November 11, 2013, an off-road motorcyclist noticed human bones in the desert near Victorville, California, and notified authorities. The four McStay bodies were found buried in two graves.

Michael called me: “They’re all gone,” he said. It was surreal. I couldn’t grasp it.

A year later, on November 5, 2014, Chase Merritt, a business partner of Joey’s, was arrested on suspicion of murdering the family.

On Saturday, January 5, 2019, I received a phone call from Mikey. We hadn’t talked in a year. We chatted for 40 minutes. He told me the trial was finally beginning on Monday, January 7 and early on, he and Susan would both be called to testify.

Other than that, he could not or did not want to discuss the trial, which I understood. He said the ordeal had been tough on Susan. I think he wanted to talk to someone who knew Joey well, such as his former step dad. Mikey and I have always had a nice relationship.

Mikey said he and his new wife Gaylan McStay live in the North Beach area of San Clemente, near the McStay Memorial Bench, which is on a bluff overlooking the ocean. I was pleased he called.

On Wednesday, January 9, 2019, I took this picture of the McStay Memorial Bench.

McStay Memorial Bench in San Clemente California – Photo by Tom Blake

And now, the McStay family case is back in the news. I’ve heard it mentioned on KNX radio and KFI (San Diego). I’ve read about it in the LA Times and it’s even on YouTube. I’ve seen it on the evening news. Each time I hear about it, it’s like a bad dream.

I keep thinking, “This can’t be the same Joey McStay who called 24 years ago from the San Francisco Airport to have us pick him up, so he could come live with us.”

But it is. And now, we can only wait to see how the trial turns out. There are so many unanswered questions about the McStay Family. Mikey, Susan and Summer’s family deserve closure. They’ve waited nine years.

Photo of Summer, the boys, and Joey. Still impossible to believe it’s for real.
Photo credit: Personal McStay Family photo