Keep ‘Em Flying

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter

May 12, 2023

by Tom Blake – Senior dating columnist

 “Keep ‘Em Flying” Reflections from Tom

(above photo courtesy of Christy Fisher)

I’ve been writing senior-related eNewsletters for around 20 years. Many of you have been subscribers since then. Today’s is unusual. I am not seeking sympathy from you Champs. I simply had to get some thoughts off my chest.

The last six months have been a blurry, bumpy road for me. During that time since the passing of my life partner, Greta, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on my life and realized it’s important for me to move forward, to seek health and happiness. I’ve concluded that I can’t sit back and hope those things will happen on their own. It’s up to me.

I can improve my chances of maintaining health and rebuilding happiness by reconstructing three things I’ve let slip somewhat during those six months. They are:

1 Career work – I sold my deli in 2016 after 25 years of making sandwiches, serving customers, and managing my staff. In giving those things up, I needed something to keep me busy and my mind active. I am blessed to have been a newspaper columnist for 28 years, and, at my age, to still be writing for nine printed newspapers – three in South Orange County, California.

The other six newspapers are monthly senior publications called 50plus Life in Pennsylvania.

My first article was published on July 7, 1994, in the Dana Point News, which at that time was owned by The Orange County Register, the nation’s 22nd-largest newspaper.

In 2013, I left the Register and switched to a small syndicate called Picket Fence Media which publishes three local newspapers—The Dana Point Times and San Clemente Times (weekly), and The Capistrano Dispatch (San Juan Capistrano (twice monthly).

My fifth printed book was published in 2022, titled, Tutor & Spunky’s Deli. A Dana Point Landmark.

Plus, I write this eNewsletter that keeps me busy every week.

I plan to continue writing until the ink runs dry. Will I write another book? Not sure. However, writing keeps my brain working and gives me a weekly purpose and deadlines to meet.

2 Activities to work on – Three things fall under this category that keep me active and happy. The first is exercise, which includes Standup Paddle Boarding in nearby Dana Point Harbor. I aim for three to four times each week depending on the weather and other factors. SUP is good exercise for the entire body and helps with balance, so important for seniors.

I’ve also recently joined a tai chi class, held weekly on a hilltop overlooking Dana Point Harbor, taught by Ron, one of our incredible Champs.

My second project is working on my home in Monarch Beach. I purchased the home new in 1992 and am fortunate to still own it. There were times when things got tough such as the 2008 recession when I considered selling it just to squeak by financially.

But Greta insisted I not sell it and I am so grateful for her advice. With the home now 32 years old, there are always projects to keep me busy. This spring, because of all the rain, the weeds are out of control, and I am slowly removing them. I planted a rose bush in Greta’s honor on her birthday, May 9.

The third activity is a home that I was fortunate to acquire in Palm Springs five years ago. That home was built in the 1970s so there are always maintenance projects out there that keep me busy. A big plus, it’s only a two-hour drive in each direction. A few of our Champs live in the Coachella Valley, where Palm Springs is located.

3. Relationships – I was beyond blessed to have a special relationship with Greta for 25 years. Having her in my life made me happy and I believe kept me healthy. Greta passed away last October 29. While I will miss her forever, I feel having a mate in my life may bring me some degree of happiness. At my age, I don’t have time to wait for even a year to start searching. So, I’ve decided to be proactive in finding a mate. I’m forcing myself to get off the couch and out of the house as much as possible.

I also felt that joining two online dating sites would improve my chances of meeting someone and it gives me a ray of hope that has been missing since Greta passed. Greta told me repeatedly before she passed that she wanted me to spend my final years with a mate. So, that’s what I’m trying to do.

So, I believe pursuing the three categories listed above will help bring me happiness.

5 Simple Phrases

Plus, during these last six months, I have taped to my computer screen these five simple phrases by which to live. They are gentle reminders to me of what’s important in my life.

“Let It Be” – Of course, those words are from the 1970 Beatles song of the same name. When the road gets tough, I try to remind myself of these three words. It has eased the recent stress.

“Don’t Overthink it!” – Sometimes I say to myself, “Should I or should I not?” For example, should I send a message to a potential mate or should I play it cool? Then I remind myself to just follow my heart and not worry about it. Or, at Costco, I think, “Should I purchase that pair of sunglasses for $25 that would give me a nice backup pair.” I say out loud, “Tom, don’t overthink it.”

“Keep ‘Em Flying” On April 15, 2023, I was at an outdoor arts and craft fair in Demuth Park in Palm Springs. I was walking past a booth where a family of six were gathered observing the artwork of a man named Kevin Sullivan. I heard Kevin say to the family, “Each one of you pick a number between one and 20.” And he looked at me, although I was just walking by, and said, “You pick a number also.” I had no idea what was going on. For some reason, I blurted out “17.” A few seconds later, Kevin said, “You won.”

I had won a painting of his called “Keep ‘Em Flying,” of a cartoon character like Snoopy flying an antique airplane. I posted it on my wall at the Palm Springs house. I interpreted that to mean that even though I had lost Greta five months before, I needed to keep on moving forward, in other words, to “Keep ‘Em Flying” and not give up living.

“Are you okay?” I read an article on how to deal with people who are being nasty, argumentative, negative, or combative: disarm them without violence or arguing. The article suggested saying, “Are you okay?” It tosses the ball back into their court without confrontation. I think it’s wise for me to remember those words and use them when appropriate.

And finally, “It doesn’t matter.” I say this when things may not be going as planned or hoped for. They ease stress. It’s a reminder that there are more important things in life than minor mishaps. The words help keep me on the happiness road.

Thanks for listening, Champs, and for letting me vent. I did a lot of reflecting on my life this past week as Greta’s family and I, about 30 of us, held Greta’s celebration of life on Catalina Island on Saturday, May 6. Why did we wait for so long? Because Greta’s birthday was May 9, she wanted the ceremony out there. All four of her children were born there.

I felt blessed to have my two sisters, Christine and Pam, and Pam’s husband, Bob, go with me for support to Catalina Island.

Also, while not attending Greta’s celebration of life, my neighbors, Coleen and Alex, and other neighbors, Kresta and Jake, were on Catalina celebrating Coleen’s and Alex’s wedding anniversary on that day. The four of them went out of their way to meet my sisters and Bob for 30 minutes before we left to attend Greta’s celebration. Having these seven people supporting me lifted me up and made me happy.

And then, after we had scattered Geta’s ashes from a private boat, I received a text from one of our Palm Springs’ Champ’s daughters that her dad had passed away. It was totally unexpected. I had known him for 30 years. Wow, sort of a double whammy on a double-whammy day. I thought to myself: “Keep ‘Em Flying.”

I had plenty of time to reflect on life during that May 6 ferry boat trip from Avalon back to Dana Point (an hour and a half). The notes I jotted down on the boat became the basis for this week’s eNewsletter, which I began writing on May 9 (Greta’s birthday).

Send me some positive stories for future eNewsletters. We all need to “Keep ‘Em Flying.”

Senior Online Dating

By Tom Blake – Senior Dating Columnist

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter

More Insights Into Senior Online Dating

Senior dating issues and senior dating advice and senior love

Last week’s “Online Deal Breakers and Deal Makers” eNewsletter elicited a wealth of comments from our Champs. Today, we include several of those responses.

Gloria emailed, “I found my love on three-plus years ago. He is turning 85 and I am almost 82. It truly is never too late. We lived 45 minutes apart when we met. We are now living full-time together in Palm Desert (near Palm Springs).”

Cheri, “Your beloved has been gone five months and here you are on a quest for another relationship already? That is quite disheartening to me.”

Tom’s response to Cheri’s comment comes from the above-pictured quote attributed to Elvis Presley, which is in a caption under a photo of Johhny Cash and Elvis on my wall at home:

“Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.”

Often, with older couples who have been together for years, they tell each other that when one passes first, the other should attempt to find a nice mate to help get through the difficult times of grief ahead. It’s kind of a green light each person gives the other. It’s an unselfish thing to do.

Greta and I did that. Does that mean you love your deceased mate less? Hell no; it means you need to make the best of the remaining years remaining. You need to attempt to move forward.

And if any reader thinks writing about this has been easy for me, they’ve got another guess coming. I’m just trying to help.

Larry, a Champ and long-time friend of mine wrote this week, “At our age, you and I may not have three years to let the dust settle. Who knows? No time to wait.”

And Champ Jean commented, “Tom, you are a great guy, and you get it. You deserve a nice, supportive, fun-loving woman. Don’t settle for mediocre. Good luck in your quest for companionship.”

Wayne, “I know how much you loved Greta and the last few months must have been difficult and lonely. On the brighter side, we only have so many years left and there are many nice women who would love your companionship. You are a catch!”

Thyrza, “Everything you stated in last week’s newsletter happened to me. One romance scammer who lived nearby posted a photo of himself that was 20 years old. When we met in person, he looked like he had walked across the Sahara Desert. We met for coffee but weren’t a match.

“There were other negative experiences as well. It takes patience and smartness not to get into a tricky situation. I did not give up until I met my current man.”

Cheryl, “Matt and I met on OK Cupid. What I really liked about that site was the availability of thousands of questions that can be answered. The answers are multiple-choice, but each answer has a space where you can write a comment/explanation of your answer.

“Matt had answered over 400 questions, most of which included an explanation, and I had answered over 600 questions with explanations when we started communicating. So, we already knew much about each other before our initial contact. 

“When I was ‘surfing’ the site, I found it very helpful to be able to read responses from guys on certain issues I was concerned about. I could determine ‘deal breakers’ easily and not contact that person. One guy, for example, responded that he likes dogs but ‘not in my house.’ My dogs have always been in my house, so that was an immediate deal-breaker for me.  

“No scammer is going to go to the trouble of answering hundreds of questions! They all seem to follow basically the same format of answering a few similar questions typically written in very poor English!”

“I’m glad you’ve decided to jump into online dating. I think the age issue is extremely variable in terms of impact. Some people are old at 50 and others are still young at 80. Our physical status impacts us but so does our attitude!  

“Take good care, and I hope you find a loving partner for ‘the rest of the journey.’”

Mary, a woman I started going steady with on January 9, 1955 (68 years ago), set me straight by writing, “After reading through your assessment of dating-meeting websites, I can think of no reason why you would continue. Get out: volunteer. You know the drill.”  

Tom’s response to Mary’s comment. After all these years, she’s still trying to set me straight! (said with a grin). I agree that volunteering and other forms of face-to-face activities are important in one’s quest to meet a mate. However, the process of meeting someone in that way can take a great deal of time. And I don’t have time to waste. So sure, do some of those things but cast a wide net. And consider adding internet dating to your repertoire!

One positive of internet dating is that you can reach out to a multitude of people in minutes who fit your criteria (Of course, some or many of them will likely be scammers).

Terri, “I wondered how long it would take you to dive into the dating pool. I wish you the very best of luck, you may well be on the adventure of a lifetime! I hope you share some of those adventures with your Champs.

“I spent six years on dating sites after my divorce (33 years of marriage). It took me from my mid-60s into my 70s. I met some real doozies. I also met several nice men who I still consider to be great friends. I have not been on a dating site for two years. I have a steady date who is wonderful and loyal, and a couple of lovely men who still call me to see if their luck might have changed.

“ is a good place to start and still the best place that we have to meet other singles and potential friends. Good luck and my best to you.”

Barb, “I gave up on online dating. One guy I met professed to be Catholic and fully following the teachings. After we communicated for several months, I spent most of the day visiting him. He picked me up at the airport. After getting into his vehicle, his first words were, ‘I went to the VA to get tested, and I’m clean, good to go.”

“I responded, ‘If that’s your idea of a first date, you can take me back to the airport. After the air was cleared, we had an enjoyable day. No romantic connection, but we are still texting friends.”

Althea, “From your newsletter last week, I can see that your loneliness is getting to you. So, you joined Welcome to frustration and disappointment. I think the biggest red flags and the people to stay away from are the ones who are over the top and obsessed on any subject…politics, religion, looks, weight, age, exes, their family, and pets…run fast.

“I bet your next honey will be the woman you bump into at the supermarket or park or walking down the street…maybe paddle boarding? Or a friend says, ‘I have someone I want you to meet.’”

Judith, “Five years after my husband of 45 good years passed, I was ready for a new guy. We met on Match and after months of dates and talks, we became a couple. We’ve been together for five years and share good times. We both have our own homes but spend nights together. Thanks for your words of wisdom.”

Laurie Jo, “Regarding online dating, I never found a match and I dated like it was a job. Had up to three coffee dates a day. Kept notes.

“I was the target of a scam that wasn’t obvious at first. This person invested a lot of time on the phone with me. But it all became clear when he was ‘stuck in UAE due to customs taking his gemstones’ and he needed $2,000.

“I said, ‘Not my problem’ and he never called again.”

Elenute emailed, “I’ve been on dating sites for six years. SilverSingles is a terrible site: over 90% of what I’ve received are scams. I’m getting pretty good at sorting them out. I’m ready to cancel the two dating sites I’m on when my subscriptions run out.”

Tom’s ending remarks: From the comments above, there is little doubt that online dating for people 50-plus is a huge challenge. All sites have scammers. Profile pictures often aren’t current. I noticed that some women make an honest effort to put “date picture taken” captions under their photos. I wrote to some of those women and thanked them for being honest about their pictures.

Which senior dating sites are the best? I found an article dated March 3, 2023, in a San Francisco Bay area local newsletter called The Daily. The article is titled, “10 Best Senior Dating Sites for Mature Singles Over 40.”

That article does a thorough job of ranking the sites. Perhaps read it and study the reviews. Here’s the link:

As I wrote last week: Remember, it only takes finding the right one for you. Easier said than done, but don’t give up trying.