Senior online dating in Palm Springs

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter Apil 21, 2023

By Senior Dating Columnist Tom Blake

Editor’s note: there are three parts to today’s eNewsletter

Part 1 – Senior Online Dating in Palm Springs

I’ve been staying at my Palm Springs vacation home for nearly two weeks. I hesitated to mention in recent eNewsletters that I was going to be in Palm Springs because I have four friends who read the columns and who live in the area. They might wonder why I didn’t contact them on this short visit.

The answer is simple. I’ve had several home maintenance items to tackle before my next tenant arrives in a week. That tenant will be at my home for only two weeks and then I will return to PS and contact my buddies who live out here at that time.

Also, I knew I’d be occupied with trying to meet some local women online. Being out here without Greta for the first time in five years is brutally lonely. Meeting some new people helps ease the pain and can give one hope. Many people online are in a similar situation. They have lost their mates also; so, many of us have that in common who are using online dating sites, and yet we are still grieving.

I wondered if my initial month-long senior online dating effort which had previously focused on my Dana Point zip code perimeter of 25 miles was wasted by my coming to Palm Springs. The answer is no. I’ve met some wonderful women in the Dana Point area. Just no lasting connection yet.

But I wondered how would I meet women within a 35-mile radius of Palm Springs while staying out here.

I learned that it’s very simple to search the Coachella Valley area by just switching to my Palm Springs zip code on both and Zoosk dating site, the two sites I use. Presto, women within a half-hour drive and closer suddenly appeared. Besides them living in Palm Springs, other cities pop up such as Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, La Quinta, Cathedral City, Indian Wells, Indio, and even Beaumont and Banning. It’s been an adventure and learning experience for me.

Women in the Coachella Valley are extremely talented. They play pickle ball, golf, swim, do water aerobics, paint, hike, and ride horses.

Part 2 – Painting benches and picnic tables for the city of Palm Springs

This past Saturday, while on, I was chatting with a Palm Springs realtor. She asked where I attended college. I said The University of Michigan. The realtor said she knows a woman named Diane Morgan in Palm Springs who also graduated from The University of Michigan and is a talented painter and has worked on some painting projects for the city of Palm Springs.

The realtor said Diane was having a bench she painted in Demuth Park Palm Springs, an expansive park in the heart of Palm Springs, dedicated that very evening and suggested I go see it and say hello to Diane.

I had nothing to do so I went to Demuth Park and met Diane there. We had time to chat. Her freshly painted bench with the Hummingbird on it was dedicated to the city that night, is pictured above. Diane said she was told the Mayor would show up and say a few words about the new bench. I didn’t stick around for that.

The point of this story is that positive things can happen when seniors use online dating sites. The people you connect with might not be a match, but they might know of other people who could be.

And those other people might not be online. Diane wasn’t online, but she was great for me to meet.

Diane also mentioned she had been commissioned by the city of Palm Springs in the past to paint two benches on Palm Canyon Drive, near the famous Sonny Bono statue (many Champs have sent pictures of themselves posing with the Sonny statue). One bench is 10 yards south of the statue and the other one is across the street from that first bench in front of the Birkenstock Store. The latter bench is dedicated to “Saving the Bees.” (Photo below by me).

In addition, Diane mentioned that she hired the artist who designed a unique fountain called The Rainmaker, which is located at the intersection of North Palm Canyon Drive and Alejo Road, a couple of blocks north of Diane’s benches.

OK, OK, I know you Champs are wondering, was there a relationship connection with Diane? No, but Diane and I became friends; she’s already in a relationship. However, It was the experience of meeting an interesting new person that was so enriching.

One thing that made me chuckle about senior online dating hair color. I’ve usually dated brunettes. And then I realized that the women aged 65+ on and Zoosk are almost all blondes. I’m guessing that blonde hair more easily covers the gray hair most of us have as we age. Some, of course, show their true gray hair. I might want to take a lesson from them regarding my ultra-white hair. At 80+, it is what it is.

Another thing that brings a smile is the unique name some women post to their profile on the front page. Here are a few examples:

BabyGrand – Why? She owns and plays a Baby Grand piano.

AlwaysBhappySim – She claims to be the world’s best parallel car parker.

CheerfullyTough – I guess her name means don’t mess with her.

Aaliwood,71 – Perhaps she spends her off season in Hollywood.

BJZ,76 – Anyone’s guess.

Papillion, 73–Is she seeking Steve McQueen or Dustin Hoffman from the Papillon movie?

TuscanyDawn – She must love Italy, at least in the morning.

Carpe diem, 73 – She must like seizing the day.

Part 3 – Champ Jane decides to begin online dating after 15 years

Champ Jane emailed this week, “Thank you for your newsletter. I have been reading it for a long time. I even came to one of your singles nights at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli in Dana Point many years ago. I now live in Eugene, Oregon.

“I have not done any online dating for at least 15 years. But I’m ready to put that toe in the water again. So, I have really enjoyed the current online-dating thread in your eNewsletter. Tips and all.

“I find it very odd when women say they will only date a man taller than them. My sister has been married to one of my favorite men in the entire world for 50 years. They have an incredibly wonderful relationship. He is at least two inches shorter than her. How much they would have both missed if something like height had kept them from that initial date. 

Height-wise, I am 5’8”. I have dated two men who were shorter than I am. Truthfully, it kind of turns me on when a shorter man flirts with me. It makes me think he has a healthy self-image.

“I am in Southern California and will be back in Oregon at the end of May. That is when I will post my profile.

Tom’s question: “Jane, What made you decide to put your toe into the dating water again after 15 years?”

Jane replied: “I had two short-term relationships with two very nice men, but the connection wasn’t there. Plus, I have dated a bit here and there. Then there was Covid.

“And then on Labor Day, 2020, my house and all my possessions perished in a fire. That was sobering.

“I purchased a home that needed a lot of work. Much more than I thought. That was also sobering.

“I am trying to make a new life in Eugene. I do love the thought of a companion. But the difference is that now I feel worthy of a relationship. I feel that I have a lot to give. However, it must be the right person. What that means is someone I’m attracted to; someone I can laugh with. Someone caring and kind.

“Meanwhile, I’m doing some art, taking classes, and getting my dancing shoes out of the closet (now that venues are open to dance again). I’m trying to get out in nature, and I am enjoying my life.

“I now don’t feel at all desperate. I have a very full life. If I find that certain someone, it will be the icing on the cake. So, here is to living life at its fullest and remaining grateful for my blessings.”

Thanks, Champs. It would be rewarding to hear why other Champs have also decided to resume senior online dating. Fill us in.

8 Roadblocks to Love in senior online dating

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 14, 2023

By Senior Dating Columnist Tom Blake

8 Roadblocks to Love in senior online dating

Online Senior Dating Roadblocks to Love

Responding to last week’s eNewsletter on senior chemistry, a few Champs emailed.

Linda said, “I agree a senior kiss is the hope of something more in a relationship. It’s the window of hope.”

John emailed, “I’m currently trying senior online dating. I wonder if you’ve noticed this: Some women are so intolerant of men who hold different opinions that those women won’t even consider meeting those men.

“I’ve seen it in women demanding liberal or conservative men, Covid-19 vaccinated or unvaccinated, and Christian or secular.  

“One woman ‘liked’ me, and when I read her profile, I seemed to meet all her positives except I’ve been vaccinated five times and she insists on a man being unvaccinated. Despite my five vaccinations, I got Covid1-19 on February 7, 2023. It wasn’t pleasant but I wasn’t seriously ill—no pneumonia. Did my vaccinations help or not? I have no idea.

“Perhaps the vacs prevented me from ending up in the ICU on a ventilator, perhaps not. What did help was Paxlovid—I felt considerably better 12 hours after taking a dose. I relapsed after taking the five-day course, which apparently isn’t that uncommon. I took a second prescription and again felt much better 12 hours after the first capsule. I highly recommend it if you get sick. The sooner you start after coming down with Covid-19, the better. So, Tom, have you experienced issues like that in online dating?

Tom’s comment:

I’ve been online for approximately six weeks. I feel that John is right about the three potential senior dating roadblocks to love he pointed out.

1 Senior romance and Political belief – Conservative vs. liberal or moderate. One woman said, “At this stage in life, I would hope a man and a woman would rise above the politics and just focus on loving each other instead of throwing darts at their political leanings.” I agree with that statement but must admit I deleted one profile that featured a woman in all her photos standing next to Trump. Not a real picture, just a photo of him. Enough I thought.

2 Covid-19 vaccination situation. I must admit that I would be hesitant to hug a person who has not been vaccinated.

3 Senior romance and religion – Different faiths. Christian, Muslim, and Jewish, for example. Should that matter? Some men and women are very heavy believers in God and Jesus. I’ve been told, “My God is my everything” by a very attractive woman. I am spiritual and believe in God, but do not attend church regularly and seldom open the Bible.

So, I probably wouldn’t match up with a zealous religious woman. However, I respect and admire them for having those beliefs. That doesn’t mean you can’t be friends, but love would be a stretch.

I met a nice woman on Match. We met in person. We had a nice discussion. But she got upset when I mentioned that she was religious. She said, “I’m not religious. I believe in Jesus and God. That’s it.”

Then, I inadvertently said, after a glass of vino, “God damn over a situation she mentioned. She went ballistic. What appeared to be a connection between us, turned quickly south.

Here are five more potential online senior dating roadblocks to love I’ve observed:

4 Height – I’ve seen it on women’s front-page profiles. “I’m tall and am looking for a tall man.” Both men and women seem to agree, it’s preferred that the man be taller by at least two to three inches.

For me, I prefer women to be from 5’ up to 5’7” or 5”8”. But, I’ve seen attractive women under five feet and 5’9″.

5 Age difference – I’ve had some women write a nice message saying I’m not a match with them because our age gap is too many years. I write back, thanking them for their honesty and forthrightness. And I get it. Heck I’ve pass the big 80.

One woman’s profile stated she was 72. But the first sentence of her profile said, “I am 52 years old.” That puzzled me.

I’ve met many women who were married to men 20+ years older. Not one of them regretted their relationship. Most state it was the best years of their life. Hurray for old guys! (Hint, I’m one of them).

6 Animals – Dogs, cats, and horses are the biggies. Many front-page profile pictures show the woman holding a dog or two dogs. And then multiple other photos showing dogs, cats, and horses. I love animals but don’t want Rover to be always at my feet begging for a treat. If senior women love their animals, a guy better be prepared to accept that and adapt to it, but hopefully, the woman will keep the rover under control. On a visit to one woman’s home, rover jump up on me with razor-sharp claws and laid open wounds in my forearm that bled profusely. Embarrassing for me and she, but Rover was unflappable.

7 Front page profile photograph. Oh my, one wonders if the profile picture on the opening page is current, at least within the last couple of years. Some I’ve seen are from 5-10 years ago. There is no way of knowing if that profile front-page photo is recent if they don’t show other photos for which to compare. You’ll never know until meeting the person face to face.

One woman confessed that she’s a terrible selfie picture taker and looks younger than her pictures. She was right, which was a pleasant surprise.Some front-page photos are so blurry or unrecognizable that I can’t imagine that person will get any likes.

8 Children Living at Home – I’m not sure how many senior women or men are willing to date a person who has children living at home. That should not be a roadblock in itself. But a discussion might reveal the situation and plans to have the kids move out. So, that might be a temporary roadblock.

Windmills, cathedrals, and tulips

Champ Margaret checked in from The Netherlands where she is on vacation (April, 2023).

Margaret emailed, “I’m enjoying your column even while I’m in The Netherlands on a riverboat cruise. I just went on a 7-mile bike ride around Middelburg. It’s a lovely little town with windmills, cathedrals, and tulips! I went by myself and met so many great, interesting people! I met a nice Norwegian couple but keep bumping into the husband without his wife. I laugh and ask him if he has lost his wife again!  

“Yesterday we were at Arnheim and toured the Kroller-Muller museum. They have close to 90 Van Gogh paintings and multiple drawings of his later-in-life work, which I love. It’s the second-largest Van Gogh collection in the world. The museum is on 22 acres so after visiting the museum, I walked around the property looking at the various sculptures.

“This is a Dutch river boat (less than 100 passengers) and the service is impeccable. They upgraded me to a veranda room, so I have a lovely view as we travel along the canals and rivers. At dinner, I sat with a lady from Northern California, a lady from England and a couple from Scotland. 

“When I first asked the couple from Scotland if they came on the trip together, the gentleman said “Yes, we’re a couple, not married, but have senior sex!” I got a big laugh from that rather blunt declaration!”

Tom’s comment: I wonder if they met on

Champ Sheri is also on a cruise, with her parents from LA to Vancouver B.C. Her young nephew had his bucket list item #1 addressed two hours after departure: Riding a go-kart on the go-kart track on the top deck of a Norwegian Line ship.

So, our Champs are getting out and about. And it’s not always about dating. 

Senior Dating Chemistry

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 7, 2023

by Senior Dating Columnist Tom Blake

Slack-jawed with dismay and amazement over senior sex and chemistry

Admitted right up front. The picture is of a couple who aren’t seniors yet. Greta and I met them at the Grand Prix de Monaco. They were a couple of love birds, but not senior love birds. They were from two different foreign countries.

An open discussion about senior dating chemistry

Many Champs aired their opinions after reading last week’s “Senior Dating Follies” eNewsletter. Quickly, it became obvious to me that you’d enjoy hearing what some Champs had to say, and my responses to them. Don’t let your jaw drop. Here we go:

Janet, “Your humor really helps. I am afraid of online sites but, just staying home isn’t getting me anywhere.”

Tom, Yes, Janet, sitting at home won’t get the searching-for-a-mate job done. Social interaction is a must. Getting out with friends, volunteering, or other things can improve one’s chances of meeting a potential mate. Online sites are fraught with scammers and other issues, but they still can help, once you learn the ropes and what the potholes look like.

An anonymous (by request) woman Champ, “I’m dating and still looking for someone with whom to have a senior physical relationship, or senior sex if you will, as well as friendship and companionship. The two men I’m dating are not physically attractive to me. They are intellectually stimulating, and both are gentlemen. So, I’m still open to finding a gentleman with whom I’d also have a senior sex physical connection, but it won’t be either of them.”

Tom’s comment: “This importance of senior chemistry topics keeps surfacing among our Champs. For some women, senior physical attraction is not near the top of their qualities-wanted list. For others, senior sex ranked higher.

In my brief time sampling online dating, I’m surprised by the number of women who state on their profiles that they are warm, affectionate, passionate, and ready for love. But, then they insist on being just friends first, for weeks or even months before intimacy. At our age, what guy is going to wait around for months? Some thumbnail photos on the front page of women’s profiles reveal very sexy photos showing nice bodies and deep cleavage. And yet, they get upset when a man comments about the picture.

And, what happens if the senior intimacy isn’t good between them? Do they both move on, having invested lots of precious time waiting?

I know how I’m built. I like the warmth of a senior hug, the chemicals released in the brain from a kiss, and the electricity of holding hands. Most of the older single guys I know feel the same way.

But, let me be perfectly clear here. If a woman insists on waiting, the guy should honor her wishes and not pressure her or make her feel uncomfortable. He must be willing to wait, so in effect, the ball is in her court. If he doesn’t want to wait that long, he must be prepared to move on.  

An online website called Healthline has this to say about kissing: “The rush of oxytocin released when you kiss causes feelings of affection and attachment. Kissing your partner can improve relationship satisfaction and be especially important in long-term relationships.” (link to the Healthline website is below). Senior kissing is healthy.

Carolyn, “I agreed to a meetup with a gentleman from We planned to meet outside a lovely restaurant. He explained during dinner that he always asks potential dates to wait outside so he can see how they look in person. He said that if they don’t look like their photos, he simply drives away and ghosts them. I find this to be most cruel.

“Oh, he did say I looked rather beautiful and passed his inspection. However, I didn’t go out with him again.

“Continue living your very best life, Tom. You always inspire us to do just that!”

Tom’s comment, “A guy who does that is a total jerk. Selfish, mean, cruel, inconsiderate, and egotistical. Carolyn, you did the right thing by not going out with him again.”

Barbara, “My husband entered the hospital two years ago and died last July. A couple of months after his passing, I was texting with a gentleman who lives in the same apartment building as I do. Before I agreed to meet him, I talked with my deceased husband’s daughter. I told her what was going on and asked for her approval.

“She said, ‘Dad has been gone from your home for two years. You’re not that young, and I’m sure Dad wouldn’t want you to be alone. I give you, my blessing. I hope things work out,’ and she gave me a hug and a kiss and told me she loved me. Such relief, I felt, not having to worry anymore.

“My husband was 84 when he died. I am now 75. Good luck to you, Tom.”

Christine Baumgartner, a Champ, and a highly respected dating and relationship coach emailed, “Regarding Dyana’s comment about chemistry last week, physical attraction is the ‘natural first’ for men. If they aren’t physically attracted, the relationship probably won’t grow.

“This can be very different for women. If they’re not physically attracted initially, and instead, really like how he thinks and makes them feel, how he acts towards her and others, and has morals, then the physical can develop. This is what happened between my late husband Tony and me.

“Conversely, if a woman feels a lot of physical attraction in the beginning with a man she’ll often not ask the important questions about ‘who he is as a person’ and ignore many potential/real red flags. As you know I agree with your suggestion to her about creating a list of the traits that are important to her.”

Tom’s two cents: Christine is correct. If a man or woman has senior physical attraction atop their list of wants, that doesn’t mean senior sex is the first thing they do. It’s simply near the top of their needs, and will likely become a recurring event after some time has passed being together. Christine can be reached at

Her website is:

Champ Althea thinks differently about chemistry. She said, “Physical attraction is number one on my list. Unless you plan on having only a friendship with a man—a brother-sister type of relationship, being attracted to them/feeling the desire to kiss and have sex with them is very important. I don’t think senior physical attraction grows with time. It’s either there at the beginning or not. You can grow to love the person, but ‘being in love’ is a whole ‘nother’ ball game.”

John was vehement: “Last week’s eNewsletter left me slack-jawed with dismay and amazement. Why? Senior sex and chemistry are bullshit. There I said it. Women learn it’s crucial from romance novels. Did you know that long term, people in marriages that were arranged by their parents when the people were children have the same level of marital happiness as people who married for love and chemistry?”

Tom’s response: Gee, John, I’m curious to know where you learned the above fact. It must have been from a survey or research project. I don’t think anyone in our group has ever said that because there is initial chemistry between two people, that chemistry would guarantee long-term relationship happiness. So many other factors such as communication, trust, honesty, living arrangement (together or in separate homes), and respect come into play over the ensuing years that will affect the success or demise of a relationship.

Senior sex and intimacy and/or senior chemistry and affection, in my opinion, sure can launch a couple off on the right foot. And I don’t think that’s b.s., I think it’s a magical and tingling initial feeling. People still need to work on the relationship as the years pass to keep things fresh and on the right track.

Happy Easter, Champs. May you all have a wonderful holiday. Give a senior hug to your favorite Easter bunny.

Senior Dating Follies

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter March 31, 2023

Senior Dating Columnist Tom Blake

I was amazed at how many Champs responded to last week’s “Mom’s Books” eNewsletter, in which Victoria, a former neighbor, helped me downsize by finding homes for my mom’s books. Like Victoria, many of you are book lovers. And a few of you mentioned how the article inspired you to put other downsizing projects near the top of your to-do lists.

Today’s topic: Senior Dating Follies

Today we focus on the realities of senior dating. It’s one of those “spraying to all fields,” articles, as the incomparable San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen used to describe articles that covered a plethora of different topics all in the same column. Caen, of course, was referring to a baseball batter who could spray hits to right field, center field, or left field–scattered all over the place.

Champ Dyana emailed, “I was happy to find your website because dating at my age can be daunting. I have a profile on and am starting to meet a few people.

“The struggle within myself now is wondering how much, and how important is physical attraction (senior chemistry). Can it grow if it’s not there at the start? I hear tales of that happening. Of course, aside from that, attraction for a person’s character, mind, and values are imperative.”

Tom’s response: “I suggest, Dyana, that you make your own priority list of characteristics wanted in a mate. If physical attraction is a lower priority for you, move it down your list. Perhaps “availability” and “geographic location” are more important. From your photo, I see you have a wonderful smile. That’s an important asset in the senior dating world. For me, physical attraction tops my list. Sort of frightening, at my 80+ age, but that’s how I’m built.

Francine emailed, “Senior dating online is not for the faint-hearted. I’ve been doing it on and off for 10 years. My favorite husband (#3) passed away 11 years ago and then eight months later I met Bob on We dated for five years until his untimely death. Both men were in their late 60s.

Tom’s comment: Francine’s losses made me think about a grief-sharing workshop I attended last Monday night. At the suggestion of a woman Champ, I attended a session of senior grief counseling at a local church. I had no idea what to expect. I went there to try to help ease the pain of losing Greta. There were eight women and two men “grievers” there, plus two very savvy, caring, and empathetic women counselors.

I was astounded at what the other grievers are going through. Losing children, spouses, lovers, and often more than one loss at about the same time. Their stories helped me understand what I am dealing with. I learned how grieving can affect one’s life such as trying to accomplish too many projects at once, not sleeping enough, and not eating right.

Back to Francine’s comments: She added, “Senior dating is not easy, but I’ve been lucky. I’m 76, look 60, and have the energy of a 40-year-old. How come? I work at it. I refuse to get ‘old.’ I still work out and live my life. We live every day. We only ‘die’ once.

“No one should ever judge what’s right or wrong with a griever’s behavior who is trying to move forward in life. That applies to judging Tom as well. If volunteering is your thing, do it. If dating is your thing, do it. Being oneself is the only way to go. I’ve met men online, in supermarket lines, banks, trains, planes, buses, etc. There are many ways to meet people. Perhaps take a course at a local school—a great way to meet people for both men and women.

“How soon after a loss to put oneself out there? Everybody’s different. As was mentioned last week, don’t be critical of someone’s actions if you haven’t walked in that person’s shoes.”

This week, I interviewed Kathryn Coduto, a Boston University assistant professor who has done recent research focused on dating apps technology. She said, “Only 28% of people ages 55 or older feel they can find a soulmate using dating apps.

“Americans doubt dating apps are the best way to find a successful relationship and certainly don’t trust them—but they’re apparently unwilling to give up on apps like Match, Tinder, and Hinge in the search for their true soulmates.”

I’m certain Ms. Coduto will share more sage thoughts for us going forward. Oh my, there is so much to learn in senior and online dating.

Champ Cheryl said, “It takes courage and perseverance to find a loving partner online, but certainly the chances of success are much greater than waiting for the goose ‘to lay the golden egg in our yard!” Cheryl is saying put yourself out there. Don’t sit around at home.

And finally, from Mary Lou, “Men sign up for sites like Our Time and Zoosk but never respond to my profile/photo beyond the initial ‘like.’ They often take selfies in their bathroom, are heavily bearded, and want to play golf as an introductory activity. Why does a man even put himself out there as it is a waste of my time to even respond? What am I not getting?”

Tom’s response: “Isn’t senior online dating a hoot? If a guy’s photo shows him in a bathrobe or bathroom and with a heavy beard, he’s a quick delete. And play golf as a first date? What a joke. It’s bad enough to have a coffee date that is a bust for maybe 30 minutes. But playing golf, even nine holes could take an hour and a half. That could be brutal if you can’t stand each other. What if he tries to kiss you in the golf cart? You might fall out trying to escape! Write those dudes off. 

I am new to this senior online dating world. I am shocked by the bogus photo trick. Guys tell me they see some women’s pictures and then meet them and think they are with the mothers of the pictured women. My pics aren’t a day at the beach, but all are current except one. The two below don’t count.

Try finding a mate when you’re in your 80s. How does one make chicken salad out of chicken manure? Just chalk it up to this senior dating game. 

Send me a short bio and a photo. Who knows? We might meet for golf on a first date, as long as it’s at a miniature golf course and there’s a cocktail lounge near the first tee.

I mentioned that today’s article might be “spraying to all fields.” It did, but it was fun, and written with a smile. And thank you, Herb Caen.

Senior downsizing: Mom’s Books

Senior Downsizing: Mom’s Books

By Senior Dating Columnist Tom Blake

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter

March 31, 2023

In 2017, there was a young family living across the street from Greta and me in Dana Point. The mom, Victoria (pictured above), told us her son was named Cash (age five), and her daughter was named Waylan Jane (age two).

“Why those names?” I asked.

Victoria said, “We love Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and country music.”

Victoria was surprised when I told her I had worked with Johnny in 1975-1976 and had been friends with him. When Greta and I mentioned we were going to Nashville to visit the Johnny Cash Museum, Victoria asked if we could do her a favor.

She said, “My son is a huge Johnny Cash fan. He has written a letter to Johnny. He would be thrilled if you could give it to Johnny. Of course, young Cash didn’t comprehend that Johnny and his wife June had passed away in 2003.

The letter read, “Mr. Cash. I love you. I like the song ‘A Boy Named Sue,’ it’s funny. I’m named Cash too.” (See picture below of Tom handing the letter to Johnny).

I told Victoria I’d somehow get the letter to Johnny. At the museum, I had a picture taken of me handing it to a staged picture of Johnny. I brought the picture home and gave it to Cash.

A year later, the family moved to San Clemente. I kept in touch with them via an occasional email.

A month ago, Victoria asked to meet me at Coffee Importers in Dana Point Harbor. After our visit, as we were leaving, she stopped at a used book display sponsored by the Friends of the Dana Point Library. Victoria purchased two books for two dollars each. She said, “I love books and the people who volunteer at the library are incredible.”

Lately—as many seniors do–I’ve been trying to downsize at home. One of my top priorities has been to donate the 250+ books that are gathering dust on shelves. Most of the books were my mom’s. She was an avid book collector and reader.

At age 93, Mom moved to a larger home because she wanted more space to store her books. Often, she inserted small hand-written notes, postcards, newspaper book reviews, and other miscellaneous items inside the pages.

After Mom passed, nearly all her books came to my house. I hadn’t opened many of them.

I kept thinking about Victoria and her love of books. When she texted me in mid-March, I popped a question: “I’m going to donate all my books. Would you like to check them out first and take home books that you’d like to keep?”

“Love to,” Victoria said.

On Saturday, March 18, she arrived at 9:45 a.m. I figured she’d be at the house for a half hour.

She sat on the living room floor where I had placed the books and took two hours to go through them. She meticulously opened every book and carefully removed 130 of Mom’s items, reading them, and commenting on them.

I was astounded. Mom had inserted notes she had written, including her philosophies on religion, postcards and Christmas cards from her children, and newspaper articles from the San Francisco Chronicle from as early as 1973. There were clippings from Saturday Review, and The New Yorker—so many items that revealed Mom’s incredible thirst for knowledge.

Victoria said, “Your Mom was an amazing woman. I am honored to have these books coming to my home, where they will be loved and appreciated.” One item that Victoria found was a copy of the Emily Dickinson poem,

After great pain, a formal feeling comes”

that Mom had written the words to on a small piece of paper. Moments before, Victoria had received a text on her phone from a friend of hers that mentioned Emily Dickinson. How serendipitous was that? By the way, the final words to that poem are “…then the letting go.”

If Victoria hadn’t leafed through the books, those personal items would have been gone forever. Instead, I put them in large envelopes for my sisters to go through. Victoria had virtually recovered the Blake history that would have disappeared forever.

And then Victoria said, “If you want, we can take the books I won’t be taking home to the Dana Point Library this morning.” I was dumbfounded. The thought of this daunting downsizing task being over thrilled me. She phoned her friends who volunteer there and informed them that we’d be bringing a few cases of books to the library.

One book I kept was an American Red Cross First Aid Text-Book, dated June 1937, with my brother Bill’s signature inside the front cover. Inserted in the pages were two Johnson & Johnson unopened sterile gauze pads. I’m keeping the book and pads in his memory (picture below).

Within a half hour, the books being donated were inside the library where Victoria introduced me to the three women “Friends of the Library” who were volunteering that day. I was so impressed with their dedication and enthusiasm. 

When bidding goodbye to Victoria, she said, “I didn’t expect this to be such an emotional day.”

When I got home, I got a little teary-eyed. Mom’s books had found a new home where a person loved books as much as Mom did. They will be treasured for years. If Victoria hadn’t surfaced when she did, Mom’s books and those precious inserts would have been gone forever. My sisters Pam and Chris and I would not have known if Mom’s books were being appreciated like they are going to be now.

It gives me and my sisters peace of mind knowing Mom’s books are in the possession of an incredible and loving person. I know Mom is beaming from above.

And thank you, Victoria for being an absolute angel. And for helping me with my downsizing project. 

Link to “A Boy Named Sue” from Johnny Cash’s Live At San Quentin album (1969). Notice how much the prisoners loved this song. The guitar player on the right who smiles when Johnny refers to “a bottle of booze” is Carl Perkins, who wrote Blue Suede Shoes and made it popular.