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.”