A widow says, “I’m okay without a spouse”

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 christine@theperfectcatch.com 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. 
At Graceland, in 2017, Tom and Greta on the left, Bill (Tom’s brother) and Linda on the right

Stop grumping and 15 other responses

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter

March 25, 2022 eNewsletter #12

by Tom BlakeColumnist

Stop Grumping and 15 other responses

16 Champs comment about last week’s “Three things to avoid after age 70” article

Last week’s eNewsletter quoted a guy named Doug Armey who said that most people after age 70 act and talk old. I didn’t like what he said. Many of you felt the same way. As often happens, our Champs chimed in with concise and sage comments. Here are several of them:

Jacquie, “Today, the 25th of March, I turn 74. I don’t feel old. I’ve had two back surgeries and have bursitis and tendonitis, but I still walk 10,000 steps nearly every day. I also read lots of books and magazines. My brother and sister-in-law are four years and three years older respectively and are always traveling. They also walk often.

“I retired at 70 so I could do more of what I want. I won’t be reading Armey’s column anytime soon.”

Rosemarie, South Africa, “I’m 82 and manage my business and interact with clients every day. Health is 100%. Three times a week to the gym. I have lunch with my women friends. It’s best to keep busy.”

Kaitte, “I remember my mother telling me when I was 32 that I was no ‘spring-chicken’ and needed to settle down. At 44 I had cancer. I was dating a man five years younger. My grandmother told me she wished I’d find a man my age and settle down. I told Granny 40-year-olds now aren’t like they were when she was 40.

“I figured if I was going to die, I was going to live what was left of my life on my own terms and not in a hospital room.

“I’m 70 and feel the same—not living my life by some society rule that says I’ve got to act or be a certain way at a certain age.”

Pat, “I just celebrated the 41st anniversary of my 42nd birthday (83) and am still going strong. I don’t dress, act or think like an old lady. My significant other and I are in our 18th year together and it keeps getting better. It’s all about attitude.”

Tom’s comment: Pat’s story about how she met “Cowboy,” her significant other, a Harley rider, was so refreshing and inspirational, I included it in my 2009 book, “How 50 Couples Found Love After 50.” Her story’s title: “Love on the back of a Harley.” The printed lesson learned from Pat’s story: Open your mind to meeting people with different interests and backgrounds. Expand your horizons.

In Sarah’s email, she used a word of which I was not familiar. She emailed, “I wonder if Armey has found himself thinking/acting/feeling those things and not happy about it…thus, his grumping about it.”

She added, “I don’t see anything wrong with mentioning age…unless one is grumping about itOccasionally, I mention my age, but it’s because I am happy to have achieved it—a badge of honor—sort of like my gray hair. I am proud of that too.”

Tom’s comment: I had never heard the word grumping. It’s not listed in my older dictionaries, but it is listed in some online dictionaries. So, no more grumping from me!

Nigelle, Glastonbury, Somerset, UK, “Hurrah for you, Tom, for speaking up for all 70+ peeps that this Armey chappie has never come across.”

Carol, “Loved your article: it sure hit home. I’m almost 85 and all those things were me…I try to keep doing things, but I don’t ‘drive after dark.’ Your eNewsletters are always good for laughs, even when they hit home.”

Thyrza, “I am pleased you give us your take on the articles published. Who wants to read those unfounded negative reviews of people regardless of age? Armey, who wrote the piece, should learn basic philosophy or logic. One does not make sweeping statements that apply to most people, based only on one’s experiences.”

Diana, “I’m 64 and love every year. Being old and acting old is a choice! I choose to never do either. A fun Friday read.”

Teresa, “One thing never to avoid: if you disagree, speak your mind!”

Terri, 71 and counting, “This Armey guy is all wet and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Seventy years go by awfully fast. I’m lucky. I’ve got great kids, nice friends, a beautiful home, and men still find me attractive.

“I’m in a relatively new relationship with an accomplished, high-energy man, who is a great travel partner. Mercifully, none of us knows how long we have left. Life is and always has been, what we make of it.”

Larry, Florida, “At age 72, I still flip off inconsiderate dudes, like you described in last week’s column. My friend Liz bought a big-screen TV. We rocked and danced to videos of our favorite musical artists. There was a knock on her door. It was her neighbor politely asking to lower the sound because her teenage daughter was studying for a test.’ We considered her comment a badge of honor. We felt instantly younger. We turned the music down, and still ‘danced the night away.’”

Heather, “I turned 69 last week. I rewarded myself by purchasing three new bikini’s. I love being outdoors and getting Dana Point sunshine. No early-bird dinners for my partner Rueben and me. We love to cook and BBQ. Tricky meals are my favs. If they are Rueben approved, they get put into my “Momma Knott’s favorite binder.”

“Also, volunteering is such a pleasant thing to do; I enjoy doing that as well.”

Larry, California: Another thing to do: “Stay off of ladders.” 

Tom agrees: That’s for sure. It’s tempting when you need an item from that top shelf that can’t be reached without a ladder. But think twice before doing that.

Kathy, “Some of us who were active in our 30s, 40s, and 50s develop severe knee problems in our 60s and 70s. Even after knee replacements, we can’t engage in those activities we used to enjoy. So, Armey, unless you have walked a mile in those knees, zip it.”

Tom’s comment: My sister Pam recently had surgery on one knee. The rehab was painful and lengthy. But, she’s a trooper (and Champ) and has toughed it out and walking well. I admire her tenacity.

Susie, Virginia, “I’m 80. I’ve had a hard time adjusting to living in an age 62+ community. 80 is just a number to me. There is no one living here like me, I have been blessed with good health and good genes. I’m pretty lonely here.”

Thank you, Champs, for your warm, positive, and friendly responses. 

Time Waits For No One

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – October 29, 2021

by Tom Blake – Columnist

As a kid in 1954, one of the singing groups I enjoyed the most was The Hilltoppers. Their lead singer was Jimmy Sacca who had an incredible voice. They were best known for their song, “P.S. I Love You.” 

But it wasn’t “P.S. I Love You” that I thought about this week when I received updates from four couples who were featured in my 2009 book, “How 50 Couples Found Love After 50,” which we mentioned in last week’s eNewsletter.

Tom Blake’s book “How 50 Couples Found Love After 50

It was another Hilltoppers song titled, “Time Waits For No One” that came to my mind when I read how life had changed for the four couples. That song and the responses from the four couples made me reflect on how quickly time passes. Below are the words to “Time Waits For No One” : 

“Time waits for no one it passes you by,

It rolls on forever, like the clouds in the sky

Time waits for no one, goes on endlessly,

It’s just like a river flowing out to sea

You’ll find that love is like this,

Each precious moment we miss

Will never, ever return again.

So don’t let us throw one sweet moment away

Time waits for no one, let’s take love while we may.” 

 What the four couples reported 

1. Jon (now 74) and Sharon (now 69), Olympia, Washington.

First date: September 2007. Met at a singles club. Jon emailed: “Sharon and I are still together. She is busy with the Master Gardener’s growing food for the homeless. I am busy with the Humane Society and Sierra Club. We still have our own homes (six miles apart) which works out pretty well.

“No plans to get married or live together. I think our arrangement is best for us. I enjoy hearing about the others who were also in the book.” 

A lesson learned from Jon and Sharon: Older couples can be happy without being married or living together. 

2. Roger (now 71) and Jeanne (now 67), Huntington Beach, California. 

Met on Match.com in 2003. Roger had become a widower at age 52 after 30 years of marriage. Jeanne was twice divorced. Both Roger and Jeanne are San Francisco 49ers fans. 

Roger emailed, “Jeanne and I married in 2008 and are still going strong. Our first major change was buying a house together. Since we met, we now have three more grandchildren in addition to my one grandchild. 

“I spend a lot of my time with my life-long hobby of outdoor hydroplane racing. Jeanne is involved in helping her daughter with her two girls, doing much reading and helping her brother who has some health issues. We’ve done a bit of traveling but COVID kind of put the brakes on that. 

“We just take things a day at a time. I still read your column and enjoy seeing how older people react to each other and forge ahead in the world.” 

A lesson learned from Roger and Jeanne: A good time to meet someone online is when that new person first appears on the Internet site. Roger reached out to Jeanne the first time she went online. 

3. Jean (now 81) and Bob (passed away), Dana Point, California, both previously married for 45 years, Jean was divorced, Bob a widower and caregiver to his wife. Jean and Bob met on Senior People Meet. Com. 
Jean emailed, “Sadly, Bob passed away in 2017. It was truly devastating. We had 10 very wonderful years together. Each of us had been previously married for 45 years. 

A lesson learned from Jean and Bob: For a widowed person, who spent extended periods of time as a caregiver to a mate, the healing process may be far shorter when compared to a person who loses a mate unexpectedly. 

4. Pat (79 now) and Len (74 now), Easton, Pa., met online on BikerKiss.com.

Pat was a widow. Pat wrote, “My significant other, Len, and I have been together for almost 17 years. November 17 will be our first-date anniversary. 

“We’ve been through a lot together –some health issues for both of us and of course, COVID 19. Our relationship has grown and strengthened over the years, and we are happily living together still. 

“For 10 years we traveled the USA and Canada via motorcycle approximately 250,000 miles. We’ve visited 49 states and most Canadian Provinces. Len sold the bike in 2016 and then we started to travel to Europe and hopefully when COVID is more under control and more restrictions are lifted we can continue doing so. 

“We have remained active; we both walk, and I do yoga. We have a small group of friends that we enjoy doing things with and I have a select group of female friends that I enjoy being with. “We still love going to concerts, museums, and try to do something of interest several times a month. We have ‘date nights’ plus staying home watching a movie and holding hands still is a favorite thing to do. 

“Meeting Len was one of the best things that happened to me, and he feels the same way. The longer we are together the better things get. Comfortable and content make it all work for us. “Congratulations on 24 years together for you and Greta. That doesn’t surprise me. When you find the right person, you should hold on and do everything to make the relationship a fulfilling one for each of you.” 

A lesson learned from Pat and Len: Pat is five years older than Len, and yet, their story in the book stated, “Len is the happiest he’s been in a long time.”
When men realize that dating women close to their age, including women who are older, they open up opportunities for rewarding relationships. 

As of this week, I’m aware of the status of 27 of those 58 couples featured in my book, “How 50 Couples Found Love After 50” from 2009. Eleven of the 27 are still together, 16 are not. Some separated and some lost a mate to death. In a couple of situations, both mates passed. The updated stories from the book reinforce that “Time Waits For No One” so make the best of your time together and appreciate each other.

I hope to gather a few more status updates about the remaining 31 couples who were included in the book.

Check out the Hilltoppers “Time Waits For No One” on Youtube. Here is the link:
Link to “Time Waits For No One” by the Hilltoppers

For an added treat while you are on that site, listen to “P.S. I Love You,” also by the Hilltoppers. The words are typical of the early 1950s. For example, “Was it dusty on the train?” and “I burned a hole in the dining room table,” (presumably from smoking).

Note from Tom: See picture below. Trust me, it wasn’t dusty on this train–nothing but first-class service on the famed Orient Express that Tom and Greta rode in 2007 from Venice to Prague to Paris. That was 14 years ago. Where did the time go?

Tom Blake and Greta Cohn 2007 before boarding the Orient Express train in Venice

Younger single senior men

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – October 8, 2021

by Tom Blake columnist

Responses to “Where Are the single senior men?” 

Two weeks ago, the title of the eNewsletter was “Where are the men?” In that article, I quoted Marci, a single woman, age 70, who said: “I live in Orange County. I am retired and would love to meet an available, honest, adventurous man. Where is he?” 

Normally, a comment like Marci’s would draw responses from men in their mid-70s and 80s+ who want to contact senior single women younger than they are. So, I was surprised when the first two men to respond were considerably younger than Marci.  

One young widower, Capistrano Beach (a part of Dana Point), whom Greta and I have known for years, wrote, “I’m 56 and still single. It’s been tough dating lately thanks to COVID-19. I’m not giving up on women; they used to just fall in my lap without me looking. 

“I guess I’m just too picky with the ladies, but I get flirted with a lot when I venture out to get a quick drink and a taste of social interaction. It’s all good because I’m really focused on doing fun stuff with my son, age 20, who is itching to get out there in the world before he moves out and moves on. When that happens, I’m sure I will be online dating. I’m still extremely busy with my work, which is good.”

Tom’s comment: This widower is a terrific person. Since his wife passed away a few years ago, he has devoted his life to raising his son. After his son moves out (and maybe before), I have no doubt that he will meet a fine woman. At 56, he reads our weekly eNewsletter and says he finds it “informative and entertaining.”

Another Tom, San Juan Capistrano, age 61, emailed that he’d like to contact Marci, who is 10 years older than he. I responded to Tom, “You asked for Marci’s email address. Of course, I always ask permission to give out someone’s email before passing it on to strangers. Marci notified me that she’s finally met a man who might even be marriage material. So, she’s out of the ballgame for now. 

“However, it’s good to know you are 61 and live in SJC. I will keep my ears open for you. I have one idea of a nice potential mate in Orange County, but I need to check with her first. I will let you know.” 

Also, writing this week was Connie who emailed: Hi Tom, I live in Laguna Niguel (Orange County, near Dana Point) and have known about you for ages but have never signed up for your email newsletter. I was at a family member’s house in San Juan Capistrano and saw your article titled ‘Where are the Single Men?’ in The Capistrano Dispatch paper. 

“In that article, you mentioned that single women, when exchanging contact info with potential dates, should only give out to strangers a first name (not the last name) and email address, but not the home address. 

“Well, my email, like yours, exposes my last name. I hate to manage too many more emails. I also manage another email as chairman of the City of Orange Hearing Loss Association. I’ve worn hearing aids for years and got a Cochlear Implant in one ear two years ago. We have been doing social events and some Zoom meetings. It’s been hard reading lips with people wearing masks, but we are used to finding creative ways to overcome obstacles. 

“I have never been on a dating site. I guess I prefer the old-fashioned way. Maybe you can do a Zoom meeting for one of our upcoming meetings. We can title it ‘How to navigate the dating scene with a hearing loss.’ It would be hilarious.  

“Thanks for all you do to keep others busy and happy. Amazing work! Like so many others, you never knew where your path was going to lead. I’m finally calling myself retired at 70, whatever that means.” 

Tom’s response to Connie: “I didn’t think about women having their last name or first and last name in their email address when meeting new people when dating. I should have just looked at my own email address. I would consider you as a public figure, so you want people to recognize you and what you do, which presents a bit of a dilemma in sharing your last name with strangers.” 

“For dating purposes, you could create a third email address but that would be another address with which to deal. If that is too much of a pain, you might decide to reveal your last name but be careful. 

“I am impressed that you are chairman of the City of Orange Hearing Loss Association, and you hold social events and zoom meetings. “True, I did not know where my path would lead when 26 years ago, I wrote my first column in 1994. Combining newspaper and email eNewsletters, the total written has reached nearly 4,200. I have added you to the eNewsletter mailing list. I call our members Champs. Why? Because that’s what they are and now that’s what you are. 

“Retired at 70, whatever that means? It means you will keep on being active and creative as you keep enriching your life and helping so many others.” 

The Oil Spill 

I think most of you are aware of the disastrous oil spill of 166,000 gallons this past weekend off the Southern California Coast. Seeing photos of dead sea animals and fish washing ashore is beyond sad. In April 2020, I wrote about witnessing a Standup Paddle Boarder (SUP) named Candice Appleby (considered to be the best woman paddleboarder in the world) rescuing a struggling baby sea lion by putting it on her board and bringing it ashore in Dana Point Harbor.

Candice Appleby with a rescued baby sea lion

She phoned ahead from her paddleboard to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center rescue team, to come to Baby Beach and take the baby seal to its facilities in nearby Laguna Beach. I was so impressed with Candice and the PMMC rescue team that I started contributing to the PMMC charity.

My SUP partner, Russell Kerr and I so love and appreciate those animals that it’s a cause close to our hearts. PMMC has rescued and returned to the ocean thousands of injured aquatic animals and birds over the past 50 years. 

So, on the first of this month, when PMMC sent an email thanking me for my ongoing donation, I thought to myself, I need to contribute more because the PMMC is at the center of the rescue during this horrendous environmental tragedy. Even the beaches of Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, where they return healthy animals to the ocean, are closed. Dana Point Harbor is also closed. 

I am not soliciting donations, but if you love animals, and can help with a small amount, it will help PMMC fight the damage being done by this oil slick. The PMMC team will be totally overwhelmed trying to save the sick animals. They said an update on Wednesday saying they would welcome some volunteers now. The link to the PMMC website:
https://www.pacificmmc.org


(Photo of the baby seal lion is courtesy of the PMMC.)

Reasons why married couples read this eNewsletter

Ted and Marcia – Today’s featured couple – married 60 years
On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – August 6, 2021
By: Tom Blake Columnist

Reasons why senior married couples read this eNewsletter

About 10 years ago, I changed the name of this eNewsletter from Finding Love After 50 to On Life and Love After 50.

Why did I make the change?

I had started to hear from Champs that many were interested in topics other than just about senior dating. Some said they had met a mate and now wanted to hear more about other senior issues. Some had given up on meeting a mate and didn’t want to hear solely about dating. Heck, even some got married and had questions about later-in-life marriage issues.

Overall, Champs wanted to hear how other seniors were dealing with and coping with senior age-related issues.

Plus, I wanted to write about other topics in addition to keeping my toe in the dating, relationships-information waters. For example, Champs wanted to hear about the travels that Greta and I had taken, especially after we retired.
So, to keep up with the digital age, I changed the direction of the topics slightly.

However, a good old senior love story was still highly coveted.
I have always known that a good number of Champs are married or in long-term relationships. And I’m always curious why those people continue to read the eNewsletter.

Here’s a summary of what some have said:

“I read it when I was single; now that I’m married, I still enjoy it and learn from it.”

“Because people marry doesn’t mean they stop learning about other people.”

The most frequently stated reason is that when married people read about the woes and challenges of senior dating, it makes them appreciate their spouses more. They’ve said to me, “After reading what some of those singles go through; I’m holding my spouse close and never letting go. None of that senior single stuff for me.”

And when they say that, it pleases me.

One reason I don’t like to hear is when someone says, “I’m not happy in my (marriage, relationship, etc.,) and want to read what single life is like, as I may be back in it soon.” My hope is they will reconsider and stay married.

As always, my hope is to receive stories and comments from Champs. And today’s story comes from a man I’ve known a long time. Finally, this week, he agreed to share his story. He is married. His name is Ted; his wife’s name is Marcia. And that’s their picture above, taken two weeks ago (in July 2021).

And this is their story below, in the next section.
Ted and Marcia
Ted emailed, “Tom, you’d like this gal! Marcia is four years younger than I am and was just 18 and a recent high school graduate when we were married. I had just graduated from Albion College (Michigan) and was headed to the University of Michigan Law School. “People thought such a marriage could never last. But Harriett Pitts (high school English Literature teacher) would have smiled had she heard us discussing Shakespeare and great books while we courting.

“Marcia and I will be celebrating our 60th wedding anniversary in August. She grew up in Marshall, Michigan, and worked at the local radio station in nearby Albion during her junior and senior years in high school. I was working there at the time, and that’s where we met. 

“We are planning a short ‘nostalgia tour’ of the Albion-Marshall area to celebrate. Romanticist that I am, the journey will include a trip to the First Presbyterian Church in Marshall where we were wed. We’ll be renewing our vows during the visit.

“Of course, any trip to Marshall involves dinner at Schuler’s (restaurant), and that will be special for us because we grew up in households where dining at an establishment of that caliber was something one aspired to do only once or twice in his or her lifetime. We are grateful that we are in a better place than our parents were.

“Every week, I read with interest your stories about, and your advice to, aging singles. Your advice always seems to be sound, but I’m glad that (so far) it’s not the guidance I need. We’ve been blessed with 60 happy years, three children (two sons and a daughter, all in their 50s), and five grandchildren aged 18 to 26. They have been, and of course continue to be, a hugely important part of our lives.

“Words of wisdom based on 60 years of marriage: ‘Talk to one another. Share your thoughts, whether they are good or not so good.’

“I’ve not purchased your new book yet, but that is my plan. I hope that it will finally satisfy my curiosity about the genesis of the name of your deli (Tutor & Spunky’s).”

Tom’s comment: Now I can confess. Ted and I graduated together from Jackson High School, Jackson, Michigan, a few years ago (64 years, egads) And yes, I ate at Schuler’s restaurant in Marshall many times with my family. I recall their bar cheese to be the best ever.
Tom's new book cover“Tutor & Spunky’s Deli. A Dana Point Landmark” book update. Both the Kindle/eBook version and the paperback version are now available on Amazon.com. For Champs who ordered the paperback version from me, I should receive the shipment in about 10 days and will immediately mail your autographed copy to you.
Purchasing the paperback version directly from me will save you about $7 compared to purchasing it directly from Amazon. I charge $23.97, including signing, shipping, handling, standing at the post office, and miscellaneous fees. Simply send me an email if you would like a personalized copy. I’ll invoice you via PayPal.
Link to “Tutor & Spunky’s Deli. A Dana Point Landmark page on Amazon.com

For senior dating success: open your mind to open your heart

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – June 25 2021

By Tom Blake – Columnist

For Senior Dating Success: Open your mind to open your heart

As senior singles emerge from the pandemic, many would like to meet a mate. Some of them have asked me for advice on how to begin, where to go, and what to do. Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can offer comes from 14 years ago and is still significant today.

In 2007, Patricia emailed me her story on how she met her mate. Her story was unique. I liked it so much I included it in my “How 50 Couples Found Love After 50” book, which was published in 2009. Her chapter is titled “Love on the Back of a Harley.”

How 50 Couples Found Love After 50

Several of our Champs’s stories are also in that book.

This week, I found Patricia’s 2007 email in my Gmail archives. She was 62 then. Her email detailed how she met and married a man named Cowboy. His interests and lifestyle were dramatically different compared to what Patricia was seeking in a mate. He was a biker. She had never been on a motorcycle. The final two sentences of that 2007 email particularly got my attention:

She wrote, “On our second anniversary of when we first met in person, Cowboy and I were married. I truly love and adore this big ‘Biker’ and I am proud to be his wife.

“Single senior women should not give up on finding that someone special. They should broaden their minds and consider the unexpected. I never expected to be some biker’s “Old Lady,” but I’ve never been happier and more in love. Ladies, you should take more chances in meeting men.”

In re-reading that email 14 years later, I thought to myself, “Patricia’s advice is still valid today, especially coming out of the pandemic restrictions. Older singles can improve their chances of meeting a potential mate by jettisoning old stereotypes and beliefs, which means being open to people of different religious beliefs, ethnicities, income levels, family situations, hobbies, interests, and accepting people who wear tattoos, or body piercings, and perhaps, have different political affiliations (which, in 2021, maybe the biggest stretch of those listed).

So why did this information from 2007 cross my mind? Last week, I received an email from Patricia, who is now 68. She wanted to update me on the changes she and her husband Cowboy, now 70, have endured during the last 14 years and how they are dealing with post-pandemic retirement.

Patricia and Cowboy

She wrote, “It’s time to seriously think about retirement. We are both working full time and collecting Social Security. We just purchased a beautiful home in Montana, and we have put our California ranchette up for sale.

“Yes, we are doing retirement backward. We are moving from a warm state and a single-level home to a cold state and a two-story home. But, no more earthquakes, raging forest fires, horrendous mudslides, or high gas prices.

“We love Montana’s beauty. The edge of our new 1.5-acre lot drops down more than 300 feet to a creek with rainbow trout in it. Cowboy loves to fish. If we get snowed in, we can just relax, and take advantage of our fully stocked kitchen pantry.

“Granted, riding the Harley year around isn’t a possibility in Montana, but we will have months when we can. Our new adventure is just getting started, and it all started when I took a chance and met a ‘Biker’ no one ever thought I would match with!”

Patricia added, “When I was online years ago, I read Cowboy’s profile that said, ‘Don’t let the biker thing scare you off, we are not a bad lot; you might want to meet me before you make a judgment. A lot of us are real nice men.’

“I took a chance and met my ‘Knight in Shining Armor.’ He just happens to ride a Harley.”

Patricia’s advice from 14 years ago to open one’s mind and expand one’s comfort zone to meet new people, can be as effective today as it was back then.

Senior Marriage – Will our Champ’s Wedding be in the New York Times?

Will our Champ’s wedding be in the New York Times?
On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 30, 2021
by Tom Blake Columnist

Senior Marriage

When Champs share their stories and situations with all of us, positive results can follow.

First, the stories often help people who have had or are currently involved in similar experiences and sometimes predicaments.
Second, when we cast our nets far and wide, unexpected positive results can materialize.

I admit that last week when I sent out my eNewsletter for the first time using email-provider Constant Contact, I was holding my breath. I hoped I wouldn’t screw up with the new format.

I wrote about Ginny, age 80, and her significant other Harry, 87, who are contemplating marriage. Champs were amazing, responding in droves giving “thumbs up” to the new eNewsletter look and Ginny’s and Harry’s story.

One of the first responses blew me away. It was from Tammy La Gorce, the New York Times “Weddings” reporter. She wrote:

 “My Friday wouldn’t be complete without your newsletter. I love the new look! Not sure if you remember me — I’m the NYTimes Weddings reporter. “Ginny and Harry’s wedding would be a great one to feature in our section. Would you be able to ask Ginny if she’d like to be featured and if so, when they’re planning to be married?

  “Here’s a look at my latest column: 
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/16/fashion/weddings/weddings-marriage-utah.html 

I immediately responded to Tammy’s email, writing: “Yes, I remember you. I just heard from Ginny. I know she would love to be in your NY Times column. Hence, I am copying this email to her so you will have each other’s email addresses. “And you have my permission to use whatever you want, if anything, from today’s eNewsletter.

“Too bad you weren’t writing your “Weddings” column in 1968. I was married (the first time) at the headquarters of the Episcopal Church, which was located in NYC at 2nd Avenue and 43rd Street.

“After the ceremony, everyone in attendance walked over to a restaurant named Nell Gywn’s on 42nd Street across from Grand Central Station. We were carrying the altar flowers and lots of people honked and waved at our group. Twas fun. “Let me know if things proceed with Ginny and Harry.”
 
Tammy responded: “Yes, wish I had been there in 1968 but I hadn’t been born!”

Egads, Tammy’s comment reminded me that I was married for the first time 53 years ago. Holy Toledo! I wonder if our Champs can remember when and where they first married?

Ginny and Tammy have touched base. Ginny shared the email she sent to Tammy: “I was surprised and very pleased that you want to write about Harry and me. I think we may have compromised on a November wedding. But I will let you know for sure, as soon as I can get a definite answer from Harry.  Ginny”

I thought Ginny’s comment: “…we may have compromised on a November wedding.” was hilarious. Sounds like Harry isn’t moving too fast to make the wedding happen.

I hope Ginny will keep us updated and maybe we’ll read about her wedding in the NY Times.  

Senior women seeking men: stop trying so hard

  On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter –  March 5, 2021

by Tom Blake – Columnist

Senior women seeking men: stop trying so hard

(Note: This eNewsletter has been slightly edited for length and clarity.)

Two weeks ago, this eNewsletter put Sarasota, Florida on the senior dating map. How? Margaret, one of our Champs, had purchased two rental properties there. She mentioned how friendly the people living there are, and that she’s met many senior single men. I, tongue-in-cheek,  raised the question, “Is Sarasota a mecca for senior singles?”

Last week’s article featured responses, which I selected, from 11 Champs about what Margaret had written. Oh my gosh, those responses were all over the place, not to mention the ones I didn’t include.

Some enjoyed what she said, others took shots at her, some made false assumptions, and some wondered why women are even looking for a mate at this stage of their lives.

And the latter point is the subject of today’s eNewsletter. I’m including responses from two women about why women shouldn’t be so focused on finding a man.

Plus, I’m sharing Margaret’s impression and thoughts about the diverse responses to her Sarasota article.

Please note: these are not my opinions; I am merely sharing what Champs have said.

Champ Bev emailed, “I moved to Florida three months ago, and while I did not move to Sarasota, I must say that a person will be happy wherever she or he ‘chooses’ to be happy.  When people stop focusing on just meeting someone, marriage, etc., and instead start to focus on what brings them happiness, they will be happy anywhere. Happiness begins from within you, not from meeting someone to fill empty holes.   

“You need to start by filling the holes yourself. Once you are right in your heart, the rest will naturally fall into place. I liked what Kathy said about not expecting a line of senior single men at the airport in Florida, hoping to meet women. I think that is true of any place, and we need to remain realistic otherwise disappointment sets in.”

Althea shared, “Your newsletters are always interesting. Your Feb. 26 article was cool. I like how you include people’s comments. Maria’s comment was right to the point when she suggested that for all the complaining and searching that some women do to find a single man…that those women were too ‘man-hungry.’ 

“I wonder why divorced, single or widowed women over 65 need a man? Especially so desperately. If they are set financially, have a home, have family and friends around them, why do they need a man to date, or live with? Haven’t they all been there, done that?

“If they accidentally by fate meet a man and the two of them have things in common, sure, why not spend time together? Great!

“But why the need to go looking and acting so anguished and desperate? Are senior women–after they have lived with a husband for 40, 50, or, 60 years–unable to live alone?

“I can understand the ones who need a man to live with to share finances. But the drawbacks and possible problems that could arise might outweigh the benefit. Been there done that. I’d rather live in a tent.” 

Margaret said,  “The funny thing about the Sarasota article is that at age 65, I am not looking for a date or a relationship as I am very busy with my family, friends and maintaining my properties right now.  Maybe sometime in the future. 

“I kept reading in Tom’s eNewsletter articles about women wondering ‘where the men are?’ and thought the Sarasota demographics were interesting.  My suggestion to women who are looking for a man is to stop trying so hard. 

“Go out, enjoy life, be active, have fun with girlfriends and/or men friends, start a book club, play cards, go hiking, bike riding, walk and travel.  Life is too short and precious to waste ‘isolating’ at home or ‘waiting’ for the right person to come along.  And, when I do go out, I wear a mask, contrary to what a couple of Champs assumed.

“You can choose to let life get you down and have a negative attitude but it will show in your face, body language, what you say, and/or complain about. Or you can choose to pick yourself up, be positive, and look forward to all the wonderful possibilities. 

“These past few years I have lost family members that I loved. Then I lost my health due to a bike accident. I could have isolated at home and felt sorry for myself, but I had wonderful friends and other family members that supported and loved me and most importantly made sure I was not alone. 

“Through their love, I was able to live life happily again.  Some ‘holes’ that Bev talked about will never be filled when a loved one is lost, but there is always hope for happier days ahead. The Florida properties have kept me busy and I am grateful for that. Spending time with my childhood best girlfriend who encouraged me to buy in Sarasota has been such a sweet blessing and helped me in showing me around Sarasota. She was originally a CA girl but retired with her husband in Sarasota. 

“Lastly, we can choose to be a “Negative Nancy” or a “Positive Polly.”  I think the reason I have met so many nice men in Sarasota is that I am friendly, have no problem being the first to initiate a conversation (This does not necessarily involve flirting, just laughing/joking while waiting in line at the grocery store or asking for help at the hardware store) and I am generally a happy person, quick to smile or laugh and interested in what the other person has to say.”

                                  Something to ponder

Wayne (written with a big smile) asked, “I got my second Covid vaccine shot. Should I put that on my dating profile?”

My comment: Hilarious. But it’s a good question in that it may reveal people’s different opinions on the government’s and health-care experts’ mandates regarding COVID-19.

Keep the comments coming so I can keep the eNewsletters coming.

Travel during pandemic. Readers comment

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – October 2, 2020

By Columnist Tom Blake

Four Champs respond to last week’s topic: Should we go on our planned trip during the pandemic?

Judith, “My partner and I went on the trip you talked about – only we stayed in Paso Robles two nights, had our wine tasting reservations, stayed in Occidental Inn, two nights, and on the way home had one night at the Harris Ranch.

“We went the last week of June and it was great. My granddaughter was getting married at a B & B in Santa Rosa. The ceremony was Zoomed with 50 computers all over the country. 

“We purposely avoided big cities and it was all very respectful.  I am unable to wear a mask and glad it was then. We were careful but all the businesses were cautious and clean. Indoor dining except for the Napa area. The Bed and Breakfast cooked but it was served in a lunch box! 

“My Family gave lots of hugs and we socially distanced only the father of the groom, just recovering from pancreatic cancer. No one got sick.

“We did one more short trip to La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club for two days in August. It was clean and La Jolla enjoyable with few people. My partner celebrated his 83rd birthday during our stay.

“We only live once and we have no fear, it has been a horrible six months for our travel plans, but we have had time to reflect on the importance of our diet, health, and priorities.” 

Bonnie. “You and Greta have had a string of tough luck with travel plans. Your stories are aligned with mine. Almost exactly (Terrorism in Europe in 2015 and fires in CA in 2018).

“The good news is when you enjoy your own company, and in your case, the company of your beloved, you can have a vacation at home in OC and have a wonderful time. I think that is the secret.

“We had tickets and reservations for Paris, Annecy, France, Switzerland, and London this September – right now! – for three weeks. Keyword: had. All were canceled, beginning with my favorite, Air New Zealand, canceling the flight to Europe.

“Solo travel has to wait, for now. I have learned how enriching solo travel can be – without tours. I enjoy a year of planning and research and then the trip, itself. Magnificent experiences. Both planning and traveling.

“I have learned to pack a carry-on only, with a total of 14 pounds, including suitcase weight, which allows me on any/every flight with weight limits. And so light for me to navigate to haul around. Happy traveler. Planning now for 2022 Europe!” 

Gail, “Sorry about all your canceled trips. This is a hell of a year (When traveling roll with the flow).

“I would love to buy your camping toilet – I would even be willing to meet you to pick it up. I have a trip to LA in November and could meet you in Laguna or somewhere convenient. I would gladly pay for it now if you wouldn’t mind hanging onto it for a bit.”

Tom’s response to Gail: “This pandemic has made us all adjust our lives, including Greta and I purchasing the portable potty. I never imagined that I’d publish in an eNewsletter a short discussion about buying and selling a portable toilet but I guess I asked for it by posting (jokingly) if anyone wanted to purchase it.

“Thanks for the offer to buy the potty. However, Greta has subsequently told me rather strongly that she doesn’t want to sell it. So, to keep her happy, I’d better keep the darn can.

“I bought it on Amazon Prime. The brand is a Stansport. It didn’t cost much. They would deliver to your city.”

Fred: “Similar situation as you and Greta. I planned a road trip early September, only to cancel. Hotels along my route were canceling and many places of interest were closed. That coupled with bathroom facilities, dining etc., made me rethink. Do I want to travel to Yellowstone Park via Nevada, Utah, Idaho and return via Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico & Az. under unknown circumstances?

The answer: No. 

“Then made cruise reservations for 28 days in Europe for May 2021 only to be notified by Royal Caribbean a month later that cruise has been canceled.

“As William Bendix used to say, ‘What a revolting development this is!’  So, like you, I’m staying home until this germ is controlled.”

Champ birthday note: Today is Champ Dee’s birthday. It’s a significant one, which I won’t reveal. She lives in nearby Laguna Niguel, in Southern Orange County, Ca. Dee has been a Champ for years and has a heart of gold. Some Champs have met her at the Meet and Greets. So here’s to you Dee. (Rumor has it that there might be a new puppy in the house-arf, arf).

               

Should we go? (on a road trip)

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – September 25, 2020

by Tom Blake Columnist


                                    Part One – Should We Go?

It seems that every time my partner Greta and I plan a trip, situations arise beforehand that make us ask: “Should we go?”

In 2004, we planned a train trip from Madrid to other cities in Spain. A couple of weeks before our scheduled departure, terrorists bombed Madrid’s Atocha Train Station. The bomb was detonated on the tracks from which our train was scheduled to depart.

In a column, I asked Champs: “Should Greta and I go on this trip?” Champs responded with a resounding “Yes! If you cancel, you let the terrorists win.”

Greta and I decided to go. However, we canceled our train reservations and rented a car instead. Navigating hundreds of confusing roundabouts likely made driving more dangerous than taking the train.

This year, we canceled an 82-day roundtrip cruise that was departing in October from Ft. Lauderdale. The ship’s itinerary included crossing the Atlantic Ocean, navigating the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, and circumventing the coast of Africa and back to Florida.

You’re probably thinking: “COVID-19 must have forced you to cancel.”

But that wasn’t the reason. We canceled before the pandemic arrived. We decided against going because a 737-passenger airliner was shot down with a missile over Iran in January 2020.

Our thinking was: Tensions in the Middle East are heating up again. Our itinerary takes us into the Middle East. If a commercial airliner can be shot down, what’s to stop some crazies from shooting a missile into a cruise ship with the words “Holland America” emblazoned on the smokestack? In addition, the itinerary was taking us through places where pirates had attacked ships recently.

As it turns out, Holland America canceled the cruise a few weeks later due to the pandemic.

We still had a yen to travel. In February this year, we made reservations to take the train to Seattle for a week beginning March 9 to visit relatives. In early March, when COVID-19 first surfaced in the USA, Seattle was the initial hot spot in America.

We wondered “Should we go?” We thought that being on a train for 33 hours going to a pandemic hot spot was not a good idea. We canceled.

Last month, the pandemic seemed to be easing somewhat. We had a one-week timeshare to use before the timeshare expired in October. So, we booked a resort in the Napa Valley wine country for September 20 to 27.

Our plan was to drive from Dana Point up the 5 Freeway, stop a night at Harris Ranch, and then on to Napa. On the return trip, we planned to spend a night at the Davenport Roadhouse (a few miles north of Santa Cruz), which is owned by friends of ours. And other friends were going to join us for dinner at the Roadhouse. And yet we wondered: “Should we go?”

Of course, we knew we’d have to be careful with the still-active pandemic. To avoid public restroom stops along the way, we purchased a portable camping toilet that fits on the backseat floor in our CRV. We even tested sitting on it in the car. We were ready to roll.


 Tom and Greta’s personal travel aid

I promised Greta if the portable was necessary to use along the way, I’d even pull over and stop the car. We wanted no backseat tumbles or mishaps while the car was moving!

And then in late August, the heatwaves hit California. We thought, “What happens if our car breaks down? Maybe we should rent a car? If a rental car broke down, the rental company would provide a replacement.” But, with the pandemic, we didn’t want to drive a car that other people had recently driven.

The heat meant we’d likely be inside in air conditioning most of the time.

And then the fires hit California. The two places we were going, Napa and Santa Cruz, were, where the second and third-largest fires, respectively, in California history were burning. The friends we were meeting for dinner in Davenport lost their home to fire. Plus, their son lost his home and my buddy’s sister lost her home. The air quality in both places was dangerous.

On September 7, California closed several national forests due to new fires. Who could forecast what September 20 would bring fire-wise? Would we have to worry about heat, fires, and air quality? Again we asked: “Should we go?”

All these considerations kept nagging at us. We thought: “For now, we should just stay home. Why chance it?”

We decided South Orange County is a good place to quarantine. I do my Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in Dana Point Harbor, and Greta will do water aerobics when the pool where she swims re-opens.

So, we opted not to go, at least not now.

Oh, does anyone need a portable camping toilet that’s never been used for a cheap price? I suppose we could have a yard sale.

Tom’s comment: After this eNewsletter was published, one of Tom’s readers, aka Champs, offered to purchase the portable potty. But, Tom’s partner Greta didn’t want to sell it after all, saying sometime in the future they might use it.

            Part 2 – Comments from Champs – Liars, losers and lunatics

Jim – Humor columnist for Desert Exposure Magazine (www.desertexposure.com):

“Regarding the term,”breadcrumbed.” It could have applied to my first marriage. I gave her bread; she gave me crumbs.”

Arlene – “How ironic you mentioned POF (the free dating site, Plenty of Fish). I’ve been on it for years, to no avail. Lots of liars, losers, and lunatics. Currently, a man in Beverly Hills (iffy if he’s from there) contacted me. He says he’s a yacht-designer. OK. Yesterday, he left for Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and the oil fields (?). He says he’s from Spain and is calling me ‘mi amour,’ etc.

“I have never met this man and am amused by his stories. I guess it’s a diversion more than anything that could make me hope it’s a possible match.

“My feelings are that we are not puppies. Time is of the essence in finding someone. I hate being alone; no kids or family here. I am unable to get a pet due to regulations where I live. Wasting time I abhor. Yet, here I sit alone at 67. Covid has halted my dancing and club activities. ZZZZZ”

                            Tom’s response to Arlene:

Of course, the man you met on POF (the yacht designer) is most likely a scammer. What is a yacht designer doing in the Alaskan oil fields–doesn’t track? And the Beverly Hills aspect sounds bogus also. Don’t believe him. That’s the M.O. of a scammer.

Sometimes these guys send a token gift that makes gullible senior women believe the guy is for real. Some women end up losing a lot of money. Please, please, don’t buy into it.