A Green Valentine’s Day Love Story

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – February 14, 2018

Today’s eNewsletter has two Parts

Part 1 – A Green Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is associated with red-colored hearts, red greeting cards, red heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, and red roses.

But for one San Clemente, California, couple, Valentine’s Day, 2018, will feature a green heart Valentine.

Green heart Valentine

The background: In 2003, at 70-years-old, Champ Chris Anastasio, recently divorced, became a dance host on cruise ships. In 2004, he danced with Tina, a lovely woman from England. After the cruise, they started corresponding, which began the longest long-distance relationship of which I’ve ever known—5,419 miles.

In 2009, I published a book titled, “How 50 Couples Found Love After 50.” Chris and Tina were one of the featured couples. Their story was called, “Cruise Ship Dance Host Meets Match at Sea.”

In the book, Chris was quoted, “Tina would love to live in California, but she has family and grandchildren in England. Friends always ask us if we plan to marry and live together. That doesn’t make much sense. Every time we get together it’s like a honeymoon.”

After 13 years of being an unwed, long-distance couple, things changed. On February 12, 2017, Chris and Tina married at the Dana Point Yacht Club.

 Tina and Chris Wedding Day

                                               The rest of the story 

But Tina still had to return to England from time-to-time because she wasn’t eligible to permanently stay in the United States. So, a month after their wedding, Chris and Tina started working on securing a green card for her, so she wouldn’t have to leave the country.

Two weeks ago today (Friday, January 26), Chris emailed, “After jumping through all kinds of hoops in 2017, we finally had Tina’s green card hearing today. It’s the last stop in the process.

“We were told to bring pictures, papers, letters or anything else that would prove we were a REAL couple. Tina suggested we bring your How 50 Couples Found Love After 50 book with us.

“During the interview, I mentioned that we had become kind of famous because of our long-distance relationship. I said, in fact, we were written up in a book. I handed him your book, with our page marked with a book marker.

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

“It was amazing. He never looked at anything else. We were out of there in less than a half hour. You had a hand (and a big hand at that) in getting Tina her green card. Thanks for your help.”

I think Chris and Tina’s story is remarkable. A 13-year, long-distance relationship endured. Chris just turned 84 and Tina is 77. Chris volunteers at the San Clemente Villas, a residence for seniors, by dancing with the residents every week. He also dresses up as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny on holidays.

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

Chris said, “I tended the flag every day from a kayak and changed it about every three months until I turned 80 and had heart surgery. The Dana Point Yacht Club said they liked it and would maintain it.”

For Valentine’s Day, 2018, you can bet that the color of Chris and Tina’s valentine will be green. I am incredibly proud of them.

The book, “How 50 Couples Found Love After 50,” is available on Tom’s online bookstore at:

A similar article by Tom Blake appeared in these Picket Fence Media newspapers:
Part 2 A tribute to Shirley Budhos, the Wise Bird of Manhattan, a departed Champ

Champ Sally M., emailed “Our dear friend Shirley Budhos, aka the Wise Bird of Manhattan, passed away on January 24. You introduced us several years ago and we became friends.”

My response to Sally: “This is tough news for me. I loved her spirit, although we had never met in person. She was active with our newsletter until two weeks ago. When I quoted her, I always called her ‘The Wise Bird of Manhattan,’ a titled she provided more than 15 years ago.

“She contributed an endless number of times to the newsletter with her wisdom. Thanks for letting me know; I often don’t learn when we lose a Champ except when they stop sending in their opinions.

“She is probably itching to give her opinion from heaven today. I can almost guess what she would have said. I am honored that you let me know. Sorry for your/our loss.

“I looked back into my archives and found an email that Shirley wrote on July 8, 2016, She said:  ‘I feel like a spokeswoman who cannot articulate and reveal what women experience. All is not hilarity at my home, but my Russian soul suffers, mourns, and dashes with hilarity, the absurdity of living so long. Without my sense of humor, I would die.

“If you believe in miracles or happy endings, think of me. Life goes on in its own bumpy fashion. I have never lost interest in men and passion, but my imagination is somewhat more fulfilling than reality.”

We will miss you Wise Bird.

Responses to how long should a widowed person wait to date

Part One – Follow up from our Champs: how long widows and widowers should wait to date 

Part Two – Beware of a new email phishing scam
Part One – Recently, (February 2, 2018), the topic of this newsletter was how long should a widow or widower wait to date after the death of a spouse.

We had some brilliant comments from our Champs. Of course, there is no right answer to this question, but it’s valuable information even for people who are not married but have a significant other with whom they’ve shared a life. Their loss of a mate can be equally as devastating.

I am sharing the responses to that newsletter while the topic is fresh in our minds.

The comments are in four simple categories.

1. It’s strictly up to the widow or widower

Dating and relationship coach Christine Baumgartner (www.theperfectcatch.com) said, “I’m a widow and I also coach many widows/widowers as well as belong to a widows/widowers social group and a couple of Facebook groups dedicated to widows and widowers.

This subject comes up often in each of these groups. I completely agree the only person who gets to have an opinion about how soon a widow/widower should start dating is that specific person and only that person.

I’ve sadly heard of too many widows/widowers who pass up love because their kids/relatives/neighbors thought they needed to wait longer or even worse, never date. So sad to hear how other people’s opinions could keep someone from finding love again.

2. Two men say children should be a consideration

Wayne, “Good article. Key element that might be discussed: Effect on children. I have a friend who dated immediately after his wife died from a two-to-three-year battle with cancer. My friend had a serious girlfriend who moved into his home within months of his wife’s death. Both kids, especially the daughter, REALLY struggled with it. The buddy is early 70’s. I’m not sure there’s a perfect answer but sensitivity to your kids should be considered.

Russell -not a widower, but a man whose opinion I respect. Russel has been married 47 years. He said, “If something happened to my wife, I might never date again. For me, my daughters and grandkids would play a huge role in my decision. I would be very concerned about their reaction.”

3. A widow shares her vast knowledge on how long widows and widowers should wait to date and is a strong advocate of healing first. Her response is long, but she presents a wealth of valuable information that could be helpful to new widows and widowers and others who have suffered a loss of a loved one. Her initials are I. M.

I.M., wrote, “I know how tempting it is to become involved with someone who offers comfort immediately after a partner’s death, but I haven’t seen many of those bonds turn out to be what either of the parties expected or wanted.

“The bottom line for me on this subject is to ask myself: If I give my heart to this man and we share a life, but I die, how fast will he be looking for a replacement? If you don’t care, then jump. If you do care, take some time. Our generation didn’t hop on the ‘instant gratification’ train as a rule.

“I disagree that it’s nobody’s business except the partner left behind on when he decides to date.  If he’s putting himself out there, it’s the business of the new person he meets to be presented with all the facts.

I used to hesitate asking how long it had been since a widower had lost his wife, not wanting to intrude or appear pushy. I stopped hesitating when I discovered on my second date in two weeks with a man that he had buried his wife of fifty+ years less than a month before. Considering we had been emailing for two weeks prior to the first date, I felt quite angry.  And I shared that with him.

He excused his rapid re-entrance into the singles scene by saying she had experienced a long illness leading up to her death and that he had ‘done all his grieving’ during her illness. His revelation came about in a restaurant at dinner after he asked how long I had been alone – which was 3 years.  When I began to mentally examine the timeline, I realized she may have still been alive when he started looking for a replacement. I still feel very bad about that.

“My point is: In the immediate days, weeks and months following the loss of a spouse (bad marriage, long illness, whatever) you just don’t know what you don’t know and to quickly include another unsuspecting or trusting person in that situation can be a recipe for failure.

“Even bad marriages had good moments and long illnesses carry their own set of high and very low moments. Emotional healing from the trauma of a close death isn’t instantaneous. Most people are looking for comfort and escape from the pain or stress of such a loss but are not capable of being honest with themselves or anyone else about their emotional stability.

“The gentleman I referenced is still single (three years later), has engaged in serial relationships that end (by his description) with the women being hurt and angry and left behind because this man cannot commit. He can’t be alone, but he can’t commit to monogamy either. He never gives himself time to be alone and process his loss. He calls several times a year just to check in and ask if I’ll go out with him. No, I won’t.

“Last year, I began seeing a widower of two years whom I had known through business and who later became a casual friend. This emotionally healthy guy – by his own admission – spent a year grieving with the support of family and friends, then began to realize he felt well and whole enough to include a nice woman in his life. And we chose each other.

“We speak openly and lovingly of our spouses, but not obsessively. So, although nobody has the right to dictate how long another person should grieve, I think women should be very careful about allowing themselves to fall in love with new widowers.

“One more point – the families of those new widowers are much more likely to happily accept a new woman into the fold if some time has passed since their mother or sister has died. Even grown children sometimes find it difficult to understand dear old dad is moving on. They feel guilty on behalf of their mother. Quite a balancing act.”

4. Some wait to date for other reasons, or, decide to never date again

Linda, “The latest article about dating was very interesting. Here is what I feel/think – I have been a widow for almost four years. There are other reasons some people don’t move on. I for one am in the process of getting back on my feet financially as my husband didn’t leave me with any financial support when he passed.

“Another reason for not moving on is that in my past, I didn’t make the best decisions in choosing a partner, first husband was physically abusive and the second husband was emotionally controlling. At this point I’m a little gun shy in moving on. I’m 70 and working two part-time jobs, I’m thankful that I am healthy enough to be able to do this.”

Sid,  “Great eNewsletter today on widows/widowers and their dating. My wife died in 2010 and I have gone on a date a couple of times. I teach fitness and am around many females daily and at age 74 am in good condition. I have lady friends and we do a lot of group activities together, but no one has peaked my interest yet and I am ok with that. No need to rush, if it happens or not my life goes on. Please keep up the good work, you provide a needed service to us folks.”

Jackie, “This was a fun article to read (2/2/18). A friend told me when her mother-in-law died, there were women from the church bringing food with invitations of every kind to her father-in-law the next day.

“My advice for widows about how long should you wait to date? Until you get the first good invitation. Men can take their time and go when they want to. Women don’t typically have that luxury.”

How long to wait to date. Don’t wait centuries. Age affects us all:

How long to wait to date. Centuries maybe


Part 2 – Beware of this phishing scam

I received an email from ConsumerAffairs warning of a new phishing scam that targets Netflix customers. But, it could target any company. The subject line will be something like “Payment declined.”

The email will say that your credit card no longer works and you need to update your credit card info to continue receiving Netflix. The scam is called “brandjacking.”

Mark Huffman, a ConsumerAffairs news reporter, writes, “Brandjacking is an increasingly common tactic used in phishing cams. The email is designed to look like it’s coming from a well-known institution. It might be a major bank or a utility company—and at first glance appears to be the real thing.”

The email has a credit card “Update Payment” button to help you scam yourself. Whether it is from Netflix or any other company, don’t update your card via that button.

Huffman says, “There is a safer course of action. Should you receive one of these emails, type the Netflix URL into your browser and log into your account.”

You will determine there if your account needs updating—safely.

Remember, it’s not just Netflix, it could be any company.

How long should a widowed person wait to date?

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – February 2, 2018

by newspaper columnist Tom Blake

How long should a widowed person wait to date?

In 24 years of writing about senior relationships, I’ve been asked many times, “How long should a widowed person wait to date?”

The most recent person to ask, Champ Arlene, emailed, “What is a respectful time to wait to date after one’s spouse dies? A man I know is dating after six months of his wife’s passing. He’s in his mid-60s. I’ve asked many women what they think and they say, ‘It’s different for everyone.’ I say he could have waited a year out of respect for his deceased wife.”

The women that Arlene asked are correct: How long to wait to date is different for everyone.

I don’t think respect is the issue here. I don’t know any details about the man’s marriage. His wife could have been ill for years while he stood by her. If that were the case, he had already shown great respect for her.

Or, what if their marriage was unhappy and miserable? But out of respect for her and the institution of marriage, he hung in there. Waiting to date wouldn’t accomplish anything else.

A more important question: has he properly grieved and healed? If he hasn’t, he should not be dating. Widowers tend to date quicker than widows after the death of a spouse. What often happens, particularly with new widowers, they are so lonely, they start to date before they are ready. A nice woman comes along and falls in love with him.

A little later, he realizes he still misses his wife terribly and dumps the new girlfriend. So, in protecting his heart, he breaks hers. That’s not good.

What’s the proper period to wait for grief recovery? Impossible to say. Many times, I’ve asked widows and widowers how long they waited to date.

One widow wrote: “You’ll know you’re ready when you no longer find dwelling on the past comforting. Only you will know that.”

Another widow said: “After 21 years of marriage, it took me a good two years before I was emotionally ‘whole’ enough to consider another relationship. Up to that point, my incessant talk about my late husband would have made any man run in the opposite direction.”

What happens if a widow or widower is still grieving and he (or she) meets someone he thinks would be a great partner who becomes interested in him?

                                      Here’s where honesty is critical

Out of respect for the new person, he should tell her he’s still grieving but feels they could become a loving couple, and, if she would be patient with him, it could work out. Then, as they go forward, they can openly and honestly discuss how things are progressing. In that way, no one gets blindsided, she’s aware of what she’s dealing with. The same honesty can apply to someone grieving from a divorce.

Somewhat along that line, a Champ whose mother saw a man she knew, whose wife had died just months before. My friend said, “Mom questioned me whether it was too soon after his wife had died for her to ask him for coffee. I told her you can’t control when opportunity knocks, and if you don’t answer the knock, it may not return.

“They had coffee. The next Sunday, the man took her to church. Six months later, they were married.”

​Another Champ, Gale, told me years ago: “The man in my life had already done his grieving before his wife died, and no one has the right to dictate what that mourning period should be or for how long. That’s a right reserved exclusively for the partner left behind after a spouse dies.”

In other words, it’s no one’s business except the partner left behind on when he decides to date.

One thing is certain: As we enter our 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, we don’t have a lot of time to waste in deciding if we’re ready to date or not. If we are able to open our heart to a new person, go for it. Just don’t be selfish by rushing that decision when you know deep inside you can’t deliver love.

So perhaps Arlene will not judge too harshly the mid-60s widower who is dating six months after his wife passed away. Let’s hope he has adequately healed.


For more information on dating a widower, I have an eBook on Smashwords.com titled, “Widower Dating: Gold Mine or Mine Field” The cost to download the book is $3.93.

A similar article to this by Tom Blake also appeared in these three Picket Fence Media newspapers:

newspaper logos

San Clemente Times         The Capistrano Dispatch      Dana Point Times

Super Bowl II and “Brooklyn Roads” – a Half Century of Memories

Tom Blake

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – January 26, 2018

As Super Bowl LII (52) approaches next week, I can’t help but think back to 1968, 50 years ago. Two events happened that year that I’ve been reminded of every year since.

After serving three years in the Navy, much of it on a troop carrier in the South China Sea, at the start of the Viet Nam war, I spent a year at The University of Michigan getting my MBA degree. Upon graduation in 1966, I was fortunate to be hired by American Airlines.

In 1968, when Super Bowl II came around, I was a regional manager of public relations, working at the American headquarters at 633 Third Avenue in New York City.

Four days before the Super Bowl, the Vice President of Public Relations, a distinguished man named Holmes Brown, summoned me to his office.

He said, “Tom, I just got off the phone with the president of American Express. They have invited our two world stewardess queens, Patty Poulsen and Jill Spavin, to be their guests this week-end at the Super Bowl festivities in Miami. But, I can’t let Patty and Jill go on their own. I want an American Airlines escort to go with them to be sure they are safe and treated with dignity.

“As the only single man in our department, I would like you to go. Will you do it?”

“Love to,” I said.

He patted me on the back and handed me five one-hundred-dollar bills. “All expenses are paid for, but I want you to have money in case you need to pick up a tab. I want American Airlines to always look good.”

On Friday night, Patty, Jill and I flew to Miami. A representative from Amex picked us up at the airport and took us to the hotel. For the next three days, my focus was to keep them safe.

Jill and Patty AAL

Jill Spavin on left and Patty Poulsen on the right near Paul Revere Statue circa 1968. Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Of course, it was an incredible week-end. The three of us sat on the 50-yard line in the Orange Bowl with George Mira, a former University of Miami All-American and San Francisco 49ers quarterback. Hundreds of Mira’s admirers stopped by to greet him; they were curious about Patty and Jill who looked beautiful.

The Green Bay Packers beat the Oakland Raiders, 33-14. Vince Lombardi was the Packers coach; John Madden was the Raiders linebacker coach.

I remember riding in the bus to the game sitting next to a young kid named Mike Garrett, a Heisman Trophy winner, who years later would become the athletic director of USC for 17 years. He asked me what was in the cooler on the back seat of the bus, I said, “Chilled beer.” He said, “Oh, I wanted a Coca Cola.”

It’s hard to believe there have been 50 Super Bowls since that experience. Each year, I smile when I watch the game.

In 1970, Patty appeared as a flight attendant in the movie Airport.

          Event two – later in 1968 – “Brooklyn Roads”

There was a singer/songwriter from Brooklyn named Neil Diamond who was starting to get noticed. I heard him sing a song called “Brooklyn Roads” on a NYC radio station. Having lived in Brooklyn myself for a while, I loved the song, which was about Diamond growing up there, living two floors above a butcher shop. He attended high school briefly with Barbara Streisand.

I didn’t realize, of course, that he would become my all-time favorite singer. In 1969, songs such as “Sweet Caroline” and “Holly Holy” topped the charts. Later, the album “Beautiful Noise” became a part of my permanent collection. As did, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” with songs I treasure to this day.

I’ve seen him perform in concert about 15 times.

This week, Neil Diamond announced his retirement from performing. Greta and I were fortunate to attend his 50th anniversary concert last August at the Forum in Los Angeles. It was fabulous.

He performed my favorite Neil Diamond song, “Dry Your Eyes.” This song is not as popular or well-known as many of his others. But for me, it’s the best. He co-wrote it with Robbie Robertson of The Band, as a healing song after the assassinations of Martin Luther King, JFK and RFK. The trumpet solo near the end is staggering; it reminds of “Taps.”

Diamond cancelled the last part of the 50th Anniversary tour that was scheduled for New Zealand and Australia. He has Parkinson’s Disease. He will continue to write music and work.

So, yup, I’m looking back over the last 50 years today. Pardon me for the nostalgia. I’ll be smiling once again when watching the Super Bowl next week. I wonder where Patty Poulsen and Jill Spavin are now?

And, to acknowledge Neil Diamond for his incredible 50 years of music, I’ll play “Dry Your Eyes” one more time. But, it won’t be my last.

Here is the link to Neil singing “Dry Your Eyes” at the concert Greta and I attended last August. Note that he dedicated this performance to the English terrorism victims in London and Manchester. Put it on full screen for maximum enjoyment.


Here is the link to Neil singing “Dry Your Eyes”


Observations on life, love and LAT (Living Apart Together)

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – January 19, 2018

Tom P Blake

Often, sage comments made by Champs in response to a newsletter provide the content for the next newsletter. Such is the case this week. I couldn’t put these articles together without you.

Today: observations on life, love, and LAT (Living Apart Together) relationships. Two California Champs and one Michigan Champ share their opinions.

Maria, Cloverdale, California, wrote: “If I ever was lucky enough to get into a romantic relationship again, I would go for a LAT (Living Apart Together).

“The older I get, I see the whole romantic relationship thing in a different light. I cherish my own space and yes, I’d probably drive another person crazy with my erratic life style – like painting in my art room at 2 am because a particular painting is calling me awake, so I have to go paint!

“The LAT would be ideal for me because you are still sharing a friendship, a love, a partner, fun times, good conversation, affection and support–and sharing in the best of both individual worlds in our own living spaces.

“I’ve been alone for a long time and I’ve developed my sacred spaces in my home, my sanctuary. I am willing to share it, but I would also want times alone in my space. Can a man in a romantic partnership agree with that? Looks like some do, which is nice to hear.”

Tom’s comment: As we age, I think most of our Champs—both men and women—agree for the need for time alone in one’s space. For couples, to be around each other or face-to-face 24/7, won’t work too well. Just like these two train engines I photographed in 2007, at the Montpellier, France, Sant Roch train station:

 Trains, like couples, work better when they aren’t butting heads or constantly face-to-face

Seniors need to get out of the house and involved in activities. They need air to breathe. Social interaction is critical for seniors.

Maria continued, “I’ve come to think that if more older men and women were open to be just friends, most of us wouldn’t feel so lonely at times. I’ve tried to do the friendship thing with men, but I haven’t found a man yet to be interested here in California.

“I love good conversation and sharing of ideas written or face-to-face. I’ve struck up some email friendships with men, but they always end the same way–they ultimately stop responding without a word.

“What are your thoughts on men and women friendships (platonic) and the potential for easing loneliness? When I lived back East, I had romantic men partners as well as platonic friendships with men (I was also a lot younger–is that the difference?). It was a nice mix. Even though I’ve been in CA for 21 years, I just can’t get a handle on how CA men think.

Tom’s comment: Yes, senior friendships can ease loneliness. What is it about older, single, California men? I’m a California man, but I don’t have an answer for how they think; it’s such an individual thing. My guess is most of them want a romantic relationship, but without drama. So, if they think an email relationship isn’t going anywhere, they move on. That’s not exclusive to California men. Men everywhere may feel the same.

Maria ended with: “The older I get, the more I find peace with being alone and developing who I am in my 70’s. What I’d like is a better balance of male and female energy of friendships–frankly, I don’t want the “all women” groups, I want the mixed groups.  A nice mix of friendships is ideal!”
Joanie, Torrance, California, “LAT couples in later life make a lot of sense. If one has been single a long time (like me), certain patterns and habits develop that are hard to change. Also, when each one is secure financially in a paid-off house/condo etc., it’s hard to give that financial security up and take a chance on emotional feelings.

Tom’s comment: To enjoy emotional feelings, older singles should not give up financial security. If someone wants a part of your finances, in exchange for love, then, it’s not love. Don’t ever give up your security, you have no time remaining to re-earn it. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t share financial security—just protect yourself and know what you are doing, and with whom you are sharing.

Joanie continued, “So, keeping each’s financial security in this world is important…and not being there every minute sort of keeps the relationship romantic.

“If one is of an age where he or she is looking for a caregiver, that is a big challenge. We ‘oldies’ should have a place we can afford to go when we are at the point of needing professional caregivers. We should not hope to marry one or have one come live with us.”

Tom’s comment: Well said, Joanie.
Gordon, Traverse City, Michigan

Enjoyed both newsletters pertaining to Living Apart Together (LAT) relationships and wanted to add a couple of positive aspects, that may not be as apparent as the negatives some Champs give.

“LAT admittedly is not for all; however, it has improved my life and relationship in this late-in-life journey many of us are now taking. It is truly an adventure and is better now than ever.

“I have been in a LAT relationship (living in our own homes – seven miles apart) for over two years and found it to be very rewarding and our relationship continues to mature and be even more fun the longer we are together. Here are few reasons:

– “A LAT is a relationship based on the CHOICES we make each day and not on a legal contract and consequences based on that contract

– “There are no financial obligations or liabilities to one another. We share all. This is a very good thing for seniors (not so for young people) in that as we grow older we have increased individual liabilities affecting our partners including catastrophic health issues that often destroy both the husband and wife financially for the remainder of their days

– “Whereas, the LAT remains economically separated from those costs, bankruptcies, etc. The latest stat I read is that 65% of bankruptcies are due to health cost

– “Each time we get together, the excitement and anticipation is always present. No obligation to do so other than we want to be together. Yes, there are days when we simply prefer to stay home.

– “Taking each other for granted does not exist. Consideration for the other is paramount. Therefore, we take particular care to insure we appreciate each other every day.

“A LAT relationship does require a high level of openness and trust between the couple. The love aspect is defined (by me) as mutual happiness we both desire being together.

– “Yes, there are some negatives. How many times have people said to you and your partner: “When are you getting married?”

“Also, we can’t get a joint Sam’s Club or COSTCO membership card (both of us for the price of one) because we don’t live together.”

Tom’s comment: When someone asks, “When are you and Greta getting married?” (20 years together, not married), I take out the paper towel from my back pocket, and dab my eyes, saying, “Greta won’t marry me.” That usually causes them to quickly change the subject.

Gordon ended with: “Our theme song that seems always to fit perfectly is: “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight.”

Tom’s comment: Ah, the England Dan and John Ford Coley 1976 song, “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight,” from the album “Nights Are Forever.” If you think about the words, it could be the original LAT song.

“I’m not talking about movin’ in
And I don’t want to change your life
But there’s a warm wind blowin’ the stars around
And I’d really love to see you tonight ”

The link follows (click on skip ad when ad appears):


Keep your comments, questions, and observations coming. They are what make our locomotive run.

Living Apart Together (LAT) Relationships update

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – January 12, 2018

Tom Blake

Update on Living Apart Together (LAT) relationships

Last year, I received an email that piqued my interest. It was about a March 20, 2017, article posted on www.nextavenue.org, titled, “Older Adults Embrace ‘Living Apart Together,’” by Sheena Rice.

From that article, I learned a new term that described a type of senior romantic relationship: LAT (an acronym for Living Apart Together). I checked Wikipedia’s description of a LAT “…couples who have an intimate relationship but live at separate addresses.”

In Ms. Rice’s article, she included comments from researchers from the University of Missouri. Rice said, “The researchers found that (LAT) couples were motivated by desires to stay independent, maintain their own homes, sustain existing family boundaries and remain financially independent.”

I wrote about LAT relationships in our June 23, 2017, newsletter, which included quotes from four of our Champs. All newsletters are posted to my Finding Love After 50 website.

The week after the newsletter was published, three more Champs commented on LAT relationships. Here are excerpts from their comments:

Kenny, “Just one single-over-50-year-old guy’s opinion: I have ONLY been married “twice.” That would be the “first” time and the “last” time. I feel at this stage of my life, 68, there is almost NO (like 1/10th of 1%) upside to co-habitate or remarry, especially with the multiple legal complications of either the cohabitation or marriage agreement and contract, and that includes even an expensive “can-always-be-challenged” legal prenuptial agreement.

“And NO, I am NOT some bitter cynical divorcee. Really, it’s just 2017, just common sense, and I will never justify ‘living together’ to lessen a few $$$ of living expenses.

“I have seen way too many move-in-together couples justify this, “Oh “dahhh-ling, look-at-all-the-money-we-will-save-living-together” arrangement, only to go up-in-smoke (and lots of flames), followed by one helluva mighty big honkin’ litigation full of money mess.

“But, I am currently in a committed relationship. We maintain separate residences and are agreeable to NOT mix our children and our finances.

“Yet, we care for each other (and luv each other to bits and plan to ‘go the distance’) and are totally there for each other. We travel together and all our children / family / friends recognize us as a couple.”

Phil, “I spent 21 years with my wife in a LAT. In the end, not good. We found we had nothing in common. So, we lived apart. But I could not elect the option of divorce, thinking we might reconcile. I was with my wife 24/7 in her dying days.

“In 20/20 hindsight, I would have done something else (about a divorce). With Sue now in my life in 2017, the past all seems like an ‘uncomfortable period.’”

Note from Tom: Phil and Sue, Jackson High School (Jackson, Michigan) classmates of mine, married in 2017. They had not seen each other in 50-plus years. Phil sadly passed away four months after the marriage.

Relationship counselor Christine Baumgartner, said, “I have a neighbor who has been in a LAT relationship for five years. Her partner lives four miles away. They usually see each other every day and spend most nights together at each other’s homes. They share their lives with each other and are both financially comfortable with this arrangement. I asked them why it worked for them.

“She said his house is full of electronics and stuff (which he isn’t going to change) and if she lived there full-time it would make her crazy. This is the only thing she doesn’t love about him and knows it would be a breaking point for both.

“She also said she loves having her own home that she can keep ‘just her way.’ He said he wants her to be happy when she’s with him and knows their LAT is the perfect way to achieve this.”

   2018 update on LAT relationships 

This week, the above mentioned, Sheena Rice, of the University of Missouri News Bureau, sent a follow-up press release quoting Jacquelyn Benson, assistant professor of human development and family science, who is an expert on LAT relationships.

Professor Benson raised this issue: In a LAT relationship, where committed couples live apart, what happens to the relationship and living arrangement when one of the members needs care giving or has other serious health issues? Does it change the living arrangement?

Professor Benson is doing a great service to unwed, committed senior couples, by stressing the importance of “having the talk” beforehand about what happens to the arrangement if someone gets seriously ill.

She interviewed people age 60+ who are in LAT relationships to shed light on her concern. In the press release, she was quoted, “Most of the individuals we interviewed had not been tested by the realities of caregiving within their current LAT partnerships.”

But she did say, “…couples also are willing to make changes in living arrangements to provide care giving support to one another.” That was very encouraging to hear.

Professor Benson added: “Discussions about end-of-life planning and caregiving can be sensitive to talk about; however, LAT couples should make it a priority to have these conversations both as a couple and with their families.”

 Unwed senior couples–whether in a LAT or living together–instead of texting, should have face to face “the talk”

Ms. Benson admits more research is needed to gain understanding on this important topic. The press release added, “Benson is seeking older adults from around the country who are choosing to live apart (in a LAT relationship) or living together unmarried (cohabiting).”

If you would like to participate in her research (both partners must agree to participate), contact me and I tell you how to get in touch with her. Our group might be able to give her some valuable insights on this issue affecting older adult couples.


                            Clarification about last week’s article

Clarification on last week’s eNewsletter from Althea, the woman who is care giving the couple (both 81) in Yuba City, California. Althea emailed, “You did a good job and quoted me correctly except for the place where you wrote that the daughter had ‘hired me.’ I wasn’t hired, in the sense that it’s a job and I get paid…I don’t get any money.

“The ‘pay’ is I get room and board free in exchange for what I do to help them…be company for the wife, making meals, keeping the house as clean as I can (they have housekeepers who come every other week).  And I supply a dog since they lost theirs. Animal love is very important.”

Thanks Althea for setting the record straight.

Senior Single Woman with no place to live says, “I Have Survived”

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – January 5, 2018

Tom P. Blake

The above three words, “I have survived” are not mine. They belong to a Champ named Althea. We wrote about her in the April 2, 2017, newsletter. The title was, “Seniors Moving-In Together. Will It Work?”

Some background on Althea’s situation: In January, 2017, Althea, then 68, who has arthritis, and earns $895 a month in SSI (she didn’t work enough to build up the credits needed to receive Social Security), had to give up her Placerville, California, apartment.

She had no money and no place to live. It looked like she would have to live in her car.

A man, 72, whom she had briefly dated, “rescued” her by letting her move into his log-cabin home with him. It became a nightmare for her. She asked for advice in that April 2 newsletter.

As you Champs so often do, you made great suggestions for her, which I featured in the April 8, follow up newsletter, titled “No Place to Live.”

Fast forward to the final newsletter in 2017, December 22, titled, “Five things I’ve learned in three years of retirement.” Althea responded: “I just finished reading your newsletter and felt very comforted by it. I don’t know why I felt comforted, I just did.

“I’m writing to update you on how my situation has turned out. I wanted to let you know, I have survived.

“The man who rescued me made living in his home a living hell. I endured that from January to August when, through my efforts of writing personal ads on Craigslist and in my local free newspaper, and asking anyone who was within earshot, I was contacted by a woman whose parents were both 80 and living on their own in their house in Yuba City, almost two hours away from where I was in Placerville.

“The woman’s father needed some live-in help with the mother who has dementia. After meeting the daughter and being interviewed, I met the parents a few days later, and, then, the following week I spent 4 days at their house, with my dog…they also had a dog…to see if it was a fit.

“Everything turned out okay. The man I was living with gave me the money for the movers. At that point he would have done anything to get rid of me! I felt the same way! There were no ‘goodbyes,’ or ‘I hope things go well for you’ from him. He said nothing to me as I drove away and I said nothing back. Good riddance I’m sure was felt by both of us.

“So, I am living in this nice house–nothing fancy and it is a bit old fashioned/slightly cluttered–with a big backyard for my dog. (their old dog passed away less than 4 weeks after I moved in, so my dog has been a good emotional replacement for them). They are the nicest and most generous people.

“It’s been challenging because I’ve never dealt with anyone with dementia, and there’s still the challenge of also living in someone else’s home again and not having a say of how things are run. I do miss being independent and having my own place, but this is what has to be–and I deal with it well–for the most part.

“BUT – I have a roof over my head, I didn’t have to give up my dog – which I NEVER would have done, and they are sweet, generous people who don’t make any demands on me. The husband gives me grocery money to shop and I make a third of the meals, sometimes more.

“I keep my rooms clean and neat, I go out to one of the 14 parks they have here and walk my dog four times a week and I just met two nice ladies a week ago (through Craigslist of all places!) with whom I’m starting to socialize.

“We met for coffee the first day last week and then I saw a movie with one of them this week (I was seeing movies every Tuesday by myself). I am doing all I can do and keeping mentally active (jigsaw puzzles, reading and crosswords) and being as physically active as I can.

“I’m on SeniorPeopleMeet and I’m still casually looking at the profiles, hoping to meet a nice man for companionship, dating and friendship but I’m not focused on it. It’s a long shot. There are less single men my age available in this new area.

“I’ve always known that a woman doesn’t need a man in her life to be happy or fulfilled, and I think the need gets less and less as we age…and there are plenty of other ways to keep from being lonely. Make a female friend!

“My motto has always been, keep a sense of humor and never give up.”

Tom’s reply to Althea: “You are very courageous. I will use your story because it is real life, a story of will, determination and guts. Any advice for our Champs? Also, just curious: What happens if one or both of those people you are care giving for pass away? Are you able to stay or are you out on the street?”

Althea said, “I haven’t asked, but I have thought about it. I’m not dwelling on it or worrying about it though. I figure if I made it this far and kept a roof over my head, ‘The Powers That Be’ will continue to keep me safe.

“I don’t believe that the daughter who hired me or her two sons would just cut me loose and not care about what happens to me. I don’t think about the what-ifs. I just live day-to-day, keep my fingers crossed and try to stay happy.

“Also, any advice from me? Well, I’m no expert, and all I can really think of to say to Champs would be: stay positive no matter what, and don’t give up on what you really want or need. “But don’t let it make you crazy. Know when to say enough is enough and move on to something else that makes you happy.

“Maybe my story will give some hope and incentive to someone else out there who is struggling with the same issues. Or worse ones.

As Althea says, things could always be worse

Althea ended with: “Staying positive and being proactive and never giving up is a good message.”

5 Things I’ve Learned in 3 Years of Retirement

January 1, 2018

Tom Blake

When I was pondering retirement from Tutor and Spunky’s, my Dana Point, California, deli, the main thing I dreamed about was having “free time.” With it, I could do just nothing, if I wanted, which sounded great after 25 years of making sandwiches.

I pictured the early scene in the movie, “The Graduate,” where Benjamin, who had just graduated from college, was content just floating around in his parents’ swimming pool doing nothing more than soaking up the sun. That would be I.

In January, 2015, I sold the deli. I worked until age 75; I’m glad I did. Obviously, that helped the financial nest egg and kept my body and mind active. No more slicing salami. Freedom!

I learned quickly that I did not want a lot of “free time.” I realized it wasn’t good for me. I’m just not built that way; I realized I must have projects to work on. Every morning I make a to-do list for the day. If I haven’t crossed each item off by day’s end, so be it. But, the list keeps me focused.

Soon, my “free time” became busy time. And from busy time, five lessons learned from retirement evolved.

(1) The most important lesson I’ve learned in retirement is the need to have social interaction with people. If retired people let socializing with others slip away–they might be sitting around the house too much or watching too much mindless TV. When that happens, their retirement will become boring, lonely and non-productive. To be too isolated is not good for one’s health.

A good way to interact with people is by joining groups. Meetup.com lists thousands of groups and activities and should provide plenty of ideas for people not sure what to do to meet others.

This week, my partner Greta hosted her book club of 10 women for dinner. I helped by pouring the wine and serving dessert so Greta could focus on enjoying her guests. Those women had a hoot of a time together. That’s the type of social interaction people need.

And one last thing about social interaction after retirement. Try to mix interacting with younger people into your life—kids, grandkids, great grandkids, for example, or friends younger than yourself can really keep you thinking young. That’s very important.

(2) The second lesson I’ve learned in retirement is the importance of keeping my body moving. It’s a daily priority for me. In Orange County, where we live, we’re fortunate to have the ocean nearby. The ocean can be a great aid and inspiration to keep moving. There’s surfing, kayaking, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, and walking in the harbor or on the beaches. Salt Creek Beach is one of the most beautiful in the world. I can walk there in 30 minutes from our front door, and do often.

A year and a half ago, my nephew Derek, from Dallas, was visiting and would hit the sidewalk walking first thing in the morning. I’d see him push a button on this watch-like thing on his wrist; he called it a Fitbit. “It tracks my exercise,” he said. “It counts the number of steps I take and the flights of stairs I climb. By keeping score of those things, it encourages me to keep moving. I walk almost 100,000 steps a week. You ought to get one.”

I took Derek’s advice. I purchased a Fitbit Charge 2. It has made a world of difference encouraging me to keep moving each day. My goal is 10,000 steps a day. I don’t always reach that goal, but I’m there 4-5 days a week. And I admit that there are nights, when I haven’t quite reached the 10k goal, where I walk around the kitchen and living room enough times to get the goal. It’s a little weird, but, it keeps me moving.

Weather permitting, I do Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) 4-5 times a week with my buddy Russell, a cool Kiwi from New Zealand. One neat thing about the Fitbit: it counts the strokes I take as steps toward the 10K-steps goal. Another positive about SUP: it amazes me how many new people I meet down at the launching beach. Both men and women. So, there is social interaction to the sport as well.

To keep moving, one doesn’t need an ocean nearby, or even a lake. Almost all cities have parks. Not to mention the exercise classes that help keep the body moving and, also provide social interaction at the same time.

In retirement, keeping the body moving daily is an absolute “must-do” in utilizing my “free time.”

(3) The third lesson I’ve learned in retirement is to have a purpose in life. Something with meaning, it doesn’t have to be a huge project. Volunteering and helping others is a great way to fulfill this human need.

Champ Chris Anastasio volunteers at the San Clemente Villas in California.

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He plays Santa and the Easter Bunny and dances weekly with the patrons who live there. Chris turned 84 on January 28, 2018. What a Champ he is. This picture was taken a week ago at the Villas Christmas party. That’s one of the ways he finds purpose in his life.

Lots of people use the words, “Giving back.” There are lots of people around me who are way less fortunate than I. They can use a little help. How I help them doesn’t matter-giving of my time, or what little money I can afford, is of help to them.

Here in California, there are people who’ve lost their homes to the fires. There are homeless people sleeping under freeway bridges and in dried river beds. They can use some help. Also, there are animal shelters that need volunteer help.

Having a purpose can simply mean improving oneself. At the book club party, Greta’s daughter, Tina, stopped by. She showed me the Spanish lessons she’s taking on the phone app Duolingo, which is free. That’s something I want to add to my “Have a purpose in life” goal. Just a few words a day and before you know it, “Hola, Como Estas?”

Friends of my partner Greta and me, Ron and Leigh, take Spanish lessons, dance lessons, Tai Chi lessons through senior community centers and a local college. So, there are other things, besides learning a language, that can add meaning and purpose to one’s life (they do them all).

For people still working who are thinking about retirement, I think it’s important to start planning before the big day arrives. Find an interest, or a passion, so that you’ll be up-to-speed when the time comes. I know a few men that weren’t prepared for retirement and they say they are driving their wives crazy and themselves crazy because they are around the house too much, with little to do. Might have been better to continue working.

I was in my local bank this week talking with Sheri, one of the gracious tellers there. She has taken up quilting and was telling me all about it. Gosh, I never realized how much is involved in that hobby. “It’s addicting,” Sheri said. “There are always new things that pop up. There’s a heck of a lot more to it than just sitting and sewing. In quilting, you are on your feet much of the time.”

I know one thing Sheri will be doing with her retirement “free time.” She’s got a great head start on it already.

(4) The fourth thing I’ve learned in retirement is the importance of keeping one’s mind and brain stimulated. For some, it’s the love of reading that fulfills this need. For me, it’s my writing. I’m been a newspaper columnist for 23 years. I love it; every week I must generate a column and/or a newsletter article. I am grateful for the opportunity.

Frankly, I probably would not enjoy taking cruises as much as I do if I didn’t have my writing. Taking pictures, editing pictures and blogging each day about the ports we visit keeps my mind occupied, particularly on sea days when there are no ports to visit. Writing gives me my purpose and keeps the noodle functioning.

(5) The fifth thing I’ve learned from retirement is to be willing to step out of one’s comfort zone. When Greta and I were in Lima, Peru, in October, it would have been easy to take a tour of the city arranged by the ship. But, instead, we decided to do it on our own. We took the buses that locals take. We stood in line with the locals. We learned a lot and kept close to each other for safety. We were a bit out of our comfort zone. But at the end of the day, we had grown from what we had learned.

If you’re single, and you’ve made a list of the qualities you seek in a mate, don’t be shackled by the list. For example, let’s say one of the qualities is to meet a widower of the same faith. But you meet a divorced man instead. And holy horrors, he’s not of the same faith, or even more horrifying, not of the same nationality. But you like him because he’s a gentleman. Too bad his qualities don’t show up on your list.

Guess what? Step out of your comfort zone and take a chance. Let yourself be enlightened. You’d be surprised at the number of seniors unwilling to do that. Don’t be an old fuddy-duddy.

So those are the five biggest takeaways I’ve learned in retirement: Seek social interaction, keep the body moving, have a purpose or purposes in life, keep the brain and mind working, and, be willing to step out of your comfort zone.


Similar articles by Tom Blake appeared in the January 11, 2018, San Clemente Times newspaper and The Capistrano Dispatch (San Juan Capistrano)