Thursday, December 25, 2014

A 2014 year-end message for singles

On Life and Love After 60 Newsletter

By Thomas P. Blake     December 25, 2014

A 2014 Year-end Message for Singles

It’s hard to believe that we’ve reached the final column of 2014. The December holidays are behind us. For many singles, those holidays were a mixed bag of emotions. Sure, many got to spend Christmas or Chanukah with their families and relatives and that is a treasure. But there can be an emptiness that goes along without having a gift under the tree from or for a lover.

Not to mention that singles are often reminded this time of year by well-meaning friends and family that they don’t have a mate. They hear comments like, “What a shame that you don’t have someone to share the holidays with,” or, “You should work a little harder to meet someone.” Most singles just finesse those comments outwardly, but inside, the comments can grind at them.

So, I never write a joyous Christmas week column because my primary focus is on singles age 50+, and I don’t want to make them feel worse than they already do. Yes, married people tell me they read the column as well, and I appreciate that, but my main concern is the singles.

The December holidays magnify emotions. Some people decide to get divorced or to break up during this time. It’s probably because they want to start the New Year off heading in a new and different direction. But when that happens, it can be a real downer for both sides of a busted relationship.

I speak from experience. On Christmas Eve, 1993, my wife of six years cleaned out the house and moved out of my life. No notice, just, “See ya later Thomas.” I was pretty shocked, unprepared, and angry. Christmas wasn’t very merry that year.

But out of the ashes, with the New Year, came opportunity. A better life. And it opened the door for me to meet Greta, with whom I’ve been blessed to spend 16 years. That event also launched my writing career, although when it happened, I wasn’t a writer.

However, six months later, my first newspaper column was published, titled “Home Alone with Only Dogs for Company.” Since then, I’ve written more than 3,000 columns on Finding Love After 50, published four books, and appeared on the Today Show and Good Morning America. These things would have never happened had my ex not left.

Today, it’s time to focus on the New Year and the hope it brings to all of us—single and married.

One silly thing that encourages me every year is knowing that after December 21, the days start getting longer. Even when something can get me down, I just think that every day ahead for the next six months will bring more light and less darkness.

I was stand-up-paddle-boarding in Dana Point Harbor Tuesday with my friend of 25+ years, John Hawkins, and he surprised me by asking, “What is your New Year’s resolution?”

It caught me off guard, I hadn’t really thought about it in those terms. It’s not as if I don’t have plans for 2015. I do and I sure as heck have thought about them and worked on them. But I didn’t have an answer in clear, concise terms, or, as Mark Victor Hansen, the co-founder of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series and empire, called it, an elevator speech.

What Mark meant was, you see someone in an elevator and you’ve got 30 seconds to pitch them concisely on something that you want them to know about—a book, movie script, life insurance policy, used car—whatever you are selling—doesn’t matter.

I did not have my elevator speech prepared; I rather mumbled my response to John that my main goals for 2015 include retirement from my deli, travel with Greta, and writing more newsletters and newspaper columns and maybe publish a book or two. That wasn’t a 30-second elevator speech; it took about two minutes to say that.

My message this New Year for older singles is to remind yourself that adversity and loneliness can lead to opportunity, hope and a new direction in life that can be rewarding and exciting. But, it’s up to each person to look for that opportunity, seize it, and move forward with a new bounce in his or her step. Everybody has a talent, all they have to do is find it, and nurture it, and it will grow.

I often think during this time of year of what a woman reader told me long ago: “I’ve been married and unhappy and single and unhappy. And single and unhappy is better--because I am free to make changes to my life today, tomorrow or next week, without having to go through the divorce process or getting permission from anyone other than myself.”

Besides, being single at 50, 60, 70, or 80 isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s pretty darned good. A large number of our Champs choose to be single and love the lives they are living.

So rejoice in your singleness this New Year, because a new and exciting life awaits you. Seize the opportunity.

And if the “retirement from my deli news” piqued your interest, you will hear a lot more in the January, 2015, newsletters.

Happy New Year. Raise a toast to all of your fellow Champs, which I will also do. You are all so special to me. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

On Life and Love After 60

Love - The Rob Lytle Story

On Life and Love After 60 is the title of this newsletter. Most of the time, we focus on finding love after 50. But today's column focuses on a different kind of love--not the romantic kind--but the love of family and friends that is especially important during the December holidays.

To set the stage, I need to go back to December, 1976. I was the Director of Marketing for Victoria Station, a prime rib and boxcar restaurant chain based in San Francisco, with restaurants located across the USA and Canada.

One of my marketing responsibilities was to co-ordinate a football award that Victoria Station presented to the most outstanding college football player each year. Admittedly, the award started in 1971 as sort of a spoof on the prestigious Heisman Trophy. The company had its reasons for doing so, but that is for another day.

Four years earlier, in 1972, a young man from Fremont, Ohio, Rob Lytle, was one of the most highly sought after high school football players in the country. My alma mater, the University of Michigan, was fortunate to have him choose to attend Michigan.

In 1976, when Rob Lytle was a senior at Michigan, he was the all-time leading rusher in Michigan football history. He was a consensus All American. And I, being a loyal Wolverine fan, insisted we give the award to Rob. On a snowy day in December, 1976, in Southfield, Michigan, at our Victoria Station there, one of our three company founders, Bob Freeman, and I presented the award to Rob with Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler and other dignitaries present.

Rob was drafted by the Denver Broncos and played for them for six years.

Rob and I became friends. When the Broncos played the Oakland Raiders at Oakland, I would often take him to dinner the night before the game at one of our two Oakland restaurants. Usually, he would bring 3-4 teammates along with him. Rob was one of the nicest, most thoughtful, funny young men I had ever met in my life. And yet, he was a bulldog on the playing field. Billy Dufek, a college teammate of Rob's, said he was the toughest football player he ever knew.

As a NFL running back, Rob had several concussions and multiple injuries and surgeries.

After Rob's retirement from football, I would speak to him on the phone on occasion at his home in Fremont, Ohio, where he grew up. He was always humble, although I could tell he missed playing football.

I was shocked and saddened when Rob had a heart attack at age 56 on November 20, 2010, and passed away. I found out about his passing in an article in Sports Illustrated.

This summer, I received an email from Rob's son Kelly. He was writing a book about his relationship with his dad and wanted permission to use a photo of his dad and mom that I had used in "Prime Rib and Boxcars. Whatever Happened to Victoria Station," a memoir I wrote about Victoria Station. Kelly and I started to correspond.

Kelly sent me an advance copy of the book. I was very moved that a son who was very busy with raising a family, and working, would set aside the time to accomplish such a feat. Kelly hints quite strongly that the concussions that Rob got from playing football, and the surgeries resulting from the injuries, and the pain killers,had much to do with Rob's early passing.

He writes, "I have no medical degrees, but I have to imagine that a reliance on Vicodin, Lorcet, and Oxycodone contributed to Dad's premature death."

The book is personal and heart wrenching. I could hardly finish it the first time because I saw a different side of a man I knew who had a coy smile and subtle sense of humor and a love for people. I had no idea of the agony that Rob Lytle suffered playing football on the national stage.

In the book, there is a chapter titled "Love," where Kelly describes the different kinds of love he experienced with his family. His personal descriptions of "Love is" could apply to any of us who have suffered the loss of a loved parent, child, sibling, dear friend--anybody really. This sentence touched me, "Love is a husband and wife washing dishes, their hands reaching for dirty plates together in the same bubbly sink, after another family party on Christmas Eve."

My message this Christmas: Love those who are special to you; we never know what or when something will happen to them, or to us for that matter. I love you all. Thanks for being in my life.

Rob's book, "To Dad From Kelly," is available on, at Barnes and Noble, in paperback or electronic book form, or contact Kelly directly at  for a personal, autographed copy. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio.

                                     Kelly Lytle website

                               To Dad From Kelly
                                   Book by Kelly Lytle

Be safe. Have a nice holiday. See you next week. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Love is possible at 75

On Life and Love after 60 newsletter

by Thomas P. Blake  December 12, 2014

Finding love at 75 is possible

Singles ages 50 to 80 often say to me, "I'm too old to meet somebody." I don't like hearing those words because one is never too old as we hear about today.

This newsletter reaches Champs throughout the USA, Canada, and in many foreign countries. And from their emails, we are able to share stories of hope for singles of all ages wherever they live.

Zoe, Glastonbury, England, who hiked across Spain this year as you may recall, emailed: "The actress Dame Judi Dench turned 80 on December 9. When Michael Williams, her beloved husband of 30 years, died in 2001, it never occurred to her to think of another man in her life. 

"But fate, in the guise of a few red squirrels, changed that. A neighbor, David Mills, has established the British Wildlife Center. He invited Dame Judi to the opening of a new accommodation for his red squirrels. Their relationship started from there. She was 76 and he was 68.

"They are seen everywhere together but both lead busy lives and live in their separate homes. We aren't all Judi Dench, of course, but she met the right man by doing just what you, Tom, always recommend to older singles--moving outside the comfort zone, doing something new. I doubt that Dame Judi had opening a home for red squirrels on her agenda as a stage set for romance."

Another Champ, Carm, 75, a Jackson, Michigan, high school classmate of mine, spends six months each year living in Barra, Mexico, about four hours south of Puerto Vallarta. A year ago, a relationship he was involved in for several years ended.

Carmelo emailed, "I have a new (and last) girlfriend here in Barra. She's recently widowed but we've known each other for seven years. She has lived here for 14 years. She's originally from England but moved to Canada in her early 30s and has been in Mexico for 18 years. A year older than me and so fine. She has a house to sell, then we're off to Italy for a month. When we return, we'll be searching for a new town in Mexico in which to live, likely Oaxaca. I am very happy."

A third Champ, a widower, age 75, who did not want to be identified, described how he recently found love. He is into sketching and painting and attended an artist nature boot camp this fall. He met a widow his age there who enjoys similar outdoor artistic activities.

"We found, as two active, upbeat persons, that we had many common interests and views which lead to a strong attraction. We accept each other as we find each other now, not comparing our current relationship to what we had with our spouses."

And while they live 300 miles apart in different states, they are together most of the time by visiting each other's homes. He feels he has found the love of his life and says she feels the same way.

             Be active and pursue the interests you enjoy

 Is 75 too old to find love? No, as the three couples described here today discovered. When people get out of the house and pursue outside interests, they dramatically improve their chances of finding romance. 
And as the singing group Pablo Cruise sang in the 1970s, "Love will find a way."   

Pablo Cruise  Love Will Find A Way  Live
Pablo Cruise Love Will Find A Way Live

Friday, December 5, 2014

Comparing an ex to someone new

On Love and Life After 60

By Thomas P. Blake     December 5, 2014

Singles’ dilemma: Comparing an ex love to someone new

We all know that dating and meeting someone compatible is difficult for singles at age 50. But by the time singles reach 70, the challenge is even greater. Compounding the problem can be when singles inadvertently compare the people they meet to their ex-spouse or ex-significant other.

Such is the case for Gale, mid-70s. She emailed, “I’m hoping someone out there can help me with this: I’ve been a widow since 2008 and was married to Ian, an incredible man. In fact, you included the story of our relationship in your book, How 50 Couples Found Love After 50 (

“When Ian and I met on the Internet, we lived in different states. We even shared the same November 20 birthday. We eventually lived together for two years before marrying in 2004 on Valentine’s Day. He died four and a half years later.

“The problem is I can’t stop comparing what I had with Ian to the men I meet and date. I don’t know how to get over this. I realize there will never be another Ian, but can’t seem to get past the comparisons, and of course, no one can compare with what I had because of this. I’d welcome suggestions.”

I’m not sure I can give Gale a good answer. Perhaps readers who have gone through a similar situation will shed light on what Gale has described. It reminds me of the words from Paul Simon’s song, Graceland:

“Losing love is like a window in your heart. Everybody sees you’re blown apart.”

My guess is that Gale will never stop comparing the men she meets to her deceased husband. Although he’s been gone for six years, her love for him was greater than anything she will ever feel for another man. But, maybe she can have a nice companionship with a man who only wants companionship as well. Perhaps the new man would feel the same way about a love that he has also lost.

If Gale meets a man she enjoys spending time with, her feelings about her ex should be revealed early in the relationship. Honesty is needed here, but without turning the new man off. If a new man has to be top dog of any of the loves Gale has had in her life, the relationship won’t work.

Perhaps meeting a widower who has been through a similar situation would be a good direction for her to go. They might both understand each other and accept how each other feels.

I’m sure Gale realizes that she will never stop comparing the men she meets to her ex. But if she can just sort of tuck her feelings away into a closet in her heart, then she might find a form of happiness to help her appreciate a new man.

She also has to be aware that meeting someone who fits her criteria will not be easy. The ratio of single women to single men is at least four-to-one at age 70. And, she has to realize there is a possibility that she could suffer another loss if a new man she cares about passes away before she passes.

Gale has been a Champ for years. Knowing her, I am confident that she knows what to avoid when meeting a new man. I only mention the point below for the sake of others who are saddled with the same comparison issue: When meeting a new potential mate, singles should not go on, and on, and on, about an ex, either by complimenting them or criticizing them. It’s ok to mention an ex, of course, but referring to him or to her too much could chase a new acquaintance away.

Gale’s dilemma will strike a chord with many older singles that have lost the love of their lives and who automatically compare them to the new people they meet. Gale would appreciate hearing the experiences of others who feel the same as she feels.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Bread Cast Upon the Waters

On Life and Love After 60 Newsletter

By Thomas P. Blake   November 21, 2014

Bread cast upon the waters

I am constantly reminded of the geographical diversity of where are Champs live. They reside all over the USA, Canada and in many foreign countries.

While this newsletter focuses on life and love issues for people age 50-plus, it reaches people in their 30s and 40s as well who want to learn from the experiences our Champs willingly share with us.

In response to my 75th birthday column last week, Craig from Ohio wrote, “I have enjoyed your column for the past several years; ever since my wife of 28 years decided she did not want to be married anymore.

“In November, 2010, I went through open-heart surgery and she walked out of our marriage. I had a good friend who either called me or texted me every day for six months. He saved my life, along with a counselor I saw for about a year.”

I responded to Craig, “My wife left 21 years ago on Christmas Eve with no prior notice. As it turned out, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. That may become your experience as well. Are you dating and meeting women?”

Craig said, “I have lived in Ohio my entire life. When I was a senior in college in 1976, I started dating Debbie from my hometown who was attending the same college as I. Although our families attended the same church, I never really noticed her or spoke to her until we both became students at that college.

“We dated on and off for several years, but, ultimately, we each married someone else a week apart in 1984. We raised families while living a few blocks from each other. She has two adult children and I have three.

“In August, 2012, Debbie’s husband died in an automobile accident. Shortly after this tragedy, in an effort to pay it forward like my friend had done for me following my divorce, I began sending weekly texts to Debbie that were notable quotes on grief, hope, faith, etc. Aside from my visit to the funeral home following his death, we never spoke to each other until mid-summer of 2013 when Debbie began to text me.

“We had our “first” date on August 30, 2013. I continue to send weekly texts to her even though we are seeing each other.”

Craig is a lawyer, still working, and Debbie is a retired school teacher, after teaching 33 years.

Craig said, “This September, we took an Alaskan cruise and followed it up a couple of weeks later with a trip to Kiawah Island, South Carolina. We still live just a couple of blocks from each other.”

Being the prying journalist who tries to present questions the readers are curious about, I asked if Craig and Debbie planned to always live separately.

Craig said, “I can walk from my home to hers in about five minutes, and drive it in a minute. I am living in my childhood home because it was vacant and I needed a place to live following the divorce. Our marital home was sold. I do not plan to live where I’m residing for the rest of my life, but it has been a godsend for me. Ironically, my ex-wife lives within walking distance, too, but we don’t communicate.

“Debbie’s adult son is in his first year of teaching and living at home with her. We have no plans to live together while he is living there. His plans are unknown after this school year but he is in a committed relationship with his college girlfriend, also a teacher. They may or may not decide to get a place together next year. If they were to get their own place, Debbie and I would most likely take a look at living together. At this time, neither one of us is interested in pursuing marriage.”

A simple lesson from Craig’s story: When people unselfishly and without ulterior motive, reach out to help others, often, they are blessed in return with something positive in their lives. And now because of Craig’s caring gesture, he and Debbie have a special friendship.

My incredible Mom, who would have been 104 on my birthday last week, not a particularly religious woman, but a woman of great faith, used to remind me of that principle, by quoting Ecclesiastes 11: 1: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.” Mom usually just said, “Bread cast upon the waters…” and left it at that. My siblings and I knew what she meant.

I am sure Craig will keep us posted on his relationship with Debbie.

Part 2

I love hearing from our Champs, not only with their questions or experiences, but just where they live and where they are originally from. Such was the case again this week. Two women contacted me from Florida.

Cecilia emailed, “I was born in Cuba and live in Miami. I really look forward to your newsletter and thought you would enjoy knowing how far your reach is and how many people you impact.”

I would love it if Cecilia would fill us in on growing up in Cuba.

Nancy, who I have known since we both worked for the restaurant chain Victoria Station in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s, sent an update: “I have been with Michael since 1998. He has been a pastry chef all of his adult life and has taught at culinary schools. He has had a passion for his craft all of his life.

We just opened a retail bakery on our own called St Pete Bakery, 1961 4th Street North in St. Petersburg. It is fun, exhausting and rewarding. I am hoping to retire from my office job soon to work the bakery full time.”

I checked out the St Pete Bakery Website and it left my mouth watering for those yummy pastries:

If you are in the St Petersburg/Tampa area, stop in and say hello to Nancy and Michael. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

At 75, love can take on many forms

On Love and Life After 60

By Thomas P. Blake  November 14, 2014

At 75, love can take on many forms

As we age, love can be experienced in more ways than in just having a partner or seeking a partner. I was reminded of that last Tuesday night.

I never receive snail mail on my birthday. Even back when November 11 was called Armistice Day, the mail didn’t come. Now it’s called Veterans Day and the post office still closes on that day. November 11 has always been a low-key day for me, perhaps because I’m a vet and grateful I never was in an actual battle in my three and a half years of Naval duty. I’m not into fanfare, gifts, or parties on my birthday.

November 11, however, is special to me mainly because it was my mom’s birthday as well.

Tuesday morning, as I headed off to work at my deli, Greta said, “Remember, we are going out for a nice birthday dinner so try to get some rest.” I noted that she didn’t say where we were going, but she does that every year; we always go to a nice restaurant.

I arrived at Tutor and Spunky's, my Dana Point, California deli, hoping that my employees would just finesse the day and not do the gifts, cards, and other thoughtful things they do about 20 times a year, when there is an employee’s birthday. They greeted with hugs and “Happy Birthday” and that was about it. Whew, I was relieved.

Business was light that day. Around 2 p.m., Rosalinda, an employee of 26 years, said, “It’s slow today. Why not take the afternoon off and enjoy your birthday?”

I said, “It’s slow because it’s Veterans Day, why don’t you close early?”

Rosa said, “We will.” And I went home.

When Greta came home at 5:30 p.m. from her afternoon of volunteering at the Ocean Institute, she said, “Put on some nice clothes, remember, we’re going to dinner.” Still no indication from her of where. I was going to suggest pizza at home but didn’t want to be a Grinch.

Guys can get ready in a minute or two to go out. It seemed to me that she was taking her time. And then she said she needed to check her emails. I thought that perhaps our dinner reservation wasn’t until 6:15 or 6:30 and that she was merely stalling a bit. My sister Pam telephoned from San Diego to wish me a Happy Birthday.

Greta drove. We headed south on Pacific Coast Highway. That’s how I usually get to work. Then she turned on the street before the deli that leads down to Dana Point Harbor. I thought we might be going to the Harbor Grill or Harpoon Henry’s, or another of the fine restaurants down there. But, Greta made a quick left turn onto the street behind the deli. I thought, “Oh no, something is up.” But as we passed the deli’s rear deck, I noticed it was dark inside the restaurant so my suspicions of a party at the deli passed.

Then, Greta turned into the deli parking lot. The deli was dark, but I could see some balloons in the window. On the front door, there was a hand-written sign, “Closed. Private party.” We walked into the darkened dining room and then the lights came on and 35 employees, friends and family jumped up and shouted, “Happy Birthday.”

The first couple standing there was my sister Pam and her husband Bob, obviously not in San Diego.

The employees were dressed to the nines, having discarded their aprons for dress-up clothes. There were at least 35 hugs, probably more. Love filled the dining room.

Greta’s nephew, Jake Woodruff, is a musician. About six months ago, Greta and I saw him perform at the House of Blues in Hollywood. After seeing him there, I sent him a list of five country songs that I love and thought he might want to add to his repertoire. Jake and his mom Gina were at the party.

Jake announced to the crowd that he had prepared some songs for me. He nailed it when he opened with, “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” a Garth Brooks classic. And then, a Kris Kristofferson hit, “Loving Her was Easier Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again.”

Jake knew I had been a good friend of Johnny Cash. One night 40 years ago, at the Sahara Tahoe Resort, Johnny had asked me back stage before the show what my favorite song of his was. I said, “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” Johnny came on stage that night and said to a packed show room crowd, “This song is for my friend Tom Blake,” and sang it.

Jake had mastered that song and performed it wlell. Then, he sang another Garth Brooks classic, “The Dance.” Those songs were from the list I had given him. His learning those songs, perfecting them and then singing them was an incredible gift to me.

There were people in the room between the ages of 19 to 75. When Jake sang Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline, everybody—all ages--knew the words and joined in with the “So good, so good,” and the other words the audiences often sing along with Neil.

When the party was winding down, Jake and three of my young, talented, women employees were singing together and I could visualize a new singing group being born. They were really good.

I had no clue about the birthday party. Not one employee slipped by saying something that would have alerted me. It was a total surprise planned by Greta with the help of Rosalinda and the rest of the deli staff.

To receive that much love from 35 people who are very special to me was an incredible way to spend number 75. I am truly blessed. That is what love is. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Widower says this column is written for women

On Life and Love After 60

By Thomas P. Blake  November 7, 2014

A widower says this column is for women

Ellen, a Champ and long-time friend of mine, lives in the Pacific Northwest. She and her partner Paul have been together for three and a half years. Ellen wrote, “We sent last week’s newsletter to a relative who is newly widowed after 60 years of marriage. He is a great guy, outgoing, in good health, handsome, financially secure, and quite a catch at 80.

“He has just started seeing a woman he knew from church.
It seems to be moving quickly. She is twice divorced, 18 years younger, with a 27-year-old son living with her, who doesn't drive. That first time with someone after being widowed is so powerful, you're coming from a place of starvation and it feels sooooo good.

“He commented that your newsletter is mostly for women. I noticed that all the comments in this one were from women. I know the newsletter could be beneficial for him.”  

I told Ellen that her email is what inspired today’s column. Her
widower friend is correct in a way; the newsletter is primarily written for and read by women. The reason: Approximately 80 percent of newsletter subscribers are women, and they are the ones who respond with questions, comments, personal experiences and observations, as you did today.

It’s always been this way, going back to the column’s roots.

My first column, titled, “Living alone with only my dogs for company,” ran in the local Dana Point, California, newspaper on July 4, 1994. I had gone through an unexpected divorce and had captured my thoughts on paper. The material had a-woe-is-me, I-got-screwed-in- my-divorce, and younger-women-won’t-date-me, flavor to it. I showed the two editors, who were women, my material. They liked the male-point-of-view--no men were writing about love in those days--and gave me a chance.

What those two editors didn’t tell me was they privately felt the women readers of Orange County would find my material so male-slanted and controversial, it would stir them up big time. It did. I remember the first reader response. A woman wrote, “Who is this sniveling puke?” Another said, “Why is it that middle-aged geezers want to date 20-year olds?” Soon, we were off to the races and the column was in 10 local papers. After that, it ran in the Orange County Register for eight years.

Initially, I estimated the readership was 70 percent woman. As I’ve grown older, the percentage of women readers has increased.

According to Census statistics, by age 60, the number of single women in the USA outnumbers the number of single men by approximately three-to-one. At age 70, it's closer to four-to-one. By age 80, six-or-seven to one. There are simply many more single women than single men in the later years.

I see similar ratios at the Meet and Greet singles events I’ve hosted at my deli for two and a half years. There are almost always two to three times more women than men who attend. And I need to keep replenishing with new men because women gobble them up and then don’t want their new boyfriends to attend any more. I know of approximately 15 men who don’t come back because they met their new main squeeze there. And sadly, two of our regular guys have recently passed away.

When men respond to the newsletter, or send in questions or opinions, they often make very valid points. I usually use their information because women still want to hear the male point-of-view. Some of the men I have recently quoted--Jon from Olympia, Washington, Ken and Chris from Orange County, California, and Art from Florida, for example--really hit the nail on the head with their comments.

And then there are some men who make no sense at all, but not many.

From what Ellen wrote about her widower relative, it sounds like he is moving quickly. But, who am I to judge if this is right or wrong? While his new woman friend is 18-years-younger, he may be happy with her and willing to accept her 27-year-old son as part of the package. I would just caution him to protect his assets and to ensure his estate plan is written the way he wants it.

Still, the widower could benefit from newsletter information that might help him avoid making mistakes that he would later regret. I published an ebook that could be helpful to him titled, “Widower Dating. Gold Mine or Mine Field?” That can be downloaded to one’s computer or reading device at

While I am on the subject of this newsletter and that it is read primarily by women, a somewhat related issue was presented to me at last week’s Meet and Greet. A woman I had never met approached me and handed me a folded, hand-written note. I was busy so I put the piece of paper in my pocket for later reading.

At home, Greta said she had seen the woman hand me the note and was just curious, of course, about its contents. We read it together. It said: “What do you think about doing a ‘His’ and ‘Her’ point-of-view in each of your articles? I’m 59 and would be interested writing it if there is an interest.”

My thoughts on shared writing of this column: Every week I include at least one woman’s point-of-view, usually more than that as Ellen pointed out. The last thing I need is to try to co-ordinate weekly articles to include one exclusive woman’s point-of-view. There isn’t time or money to do that.

Also, why would I--after 20 years of scratching out these columns and newsletters every week on own--be willing to allow someone to ride on my hard-earned coattails? Would doing so make the column more enjoyable to read for women, my primary support group? I don’t think so.

Besides, my current newspaper editor, also a woman, is the one who decides how the newspaper column will be formatted. The woman who wrote the note would have to approach her. And, the big boss, the newspaper publisher, hired me because he wants the male-point-of-view.

So, if anything, I need more male-points-of view in my columns. And believe me, getting them is as hard to come by as getting new men to attend our singles functions.

But that doesn’t mean I will stop trying. 

The McStay Family murder case

On Life and Love After 60 Newsletter

By Thomas P. Blake    November 14, 2014

Breaking News – the missing McStay Family

The morning of Friday, November 7, last week, began like so many other mornings have begun over the last nearly five years. I was downstairs at my home sipping coffee while reading emails. As a newspaper columnist, I am on the Orange County District Attorney’s press release email list. Most every day, the DA sends out press releases that describe who has been arraigned or sentenced in this county of 3,000,000 people.

One of the first things I check for is to see if any of those DA press releases are of interest to me. For nearly five years, I have been hoping and waiting for the news on one particular case—the McStay family.

Many Champs know about the McStay family case. I wrote about it in this newsletter four years ago. You see, Joey McStay was my stepson for six years in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He, his wife Summer, and two young boys, age four and three, disappeared from their family home on the night of February 4, 2010. They left food on the table and the dogs they cherished behind.

Their car was found abandoned a few days later on the American side of the Mexican border south of San Diego. Hence, there was speculation that they had gone to Mexico on their own.

Their case was featured on America’s Most Wanted and a myriad of other national mystery programs. The family of four was on the cover of People Magazine. A book was written speculating on what happened to them. The San Diego Sheriff investigated the case as a “missing persons” case as there was no proof that a crime had been committed.

I kept thinking that they would come back someday. That myth was shattered on my birthday, November 11, 2013, when the San Bernardino Sheriff held a press conference to announce that the four bodies found buried in the desert near Victorville, California, were those of the McStay family. Hearing that news shook me to the core. The Sheriff promised my ex-wife Susan and her remaining son, Mikey, that they would do everything in their power to find the killer.

Last Friday, November 7, there were no DA press releases in my inbox. Greta was upstairs and had just turned on the TV news, something she rarely did in the morning. Usually when she wakes up, she reads a book on her Kindle to start her day.

At 7 a.m., she yelled down to me, “There is breaking news on the McStays!” I exploded from my chair and took the steps two at a time to hear what was being reported on L.A.’s Channel 5: The San Bernardino Sheriff was holding a press conference regarding the McStays at 9 a.m.”

I watched the press conference from the same home where Joey had lived 21 years ago. When the press conference began, I noticed an easel a short distance behind the podium with a man’s photo on it. At that moment, I knew that the authorities had found their killer. Later, we learned that the man had been a business partner of Joey’s.

The rest of Friday was a blur. I was so filled with emotion—happy, sad, melancholy, reflective—and my eyes were so red, I tried to hide them with sunglasses. People emailed and texted and deli customers who knew of my connection to the McStays shared their feelings with me.

My partner Greta, who has been a rock through this ordeal, said, “Tonight, we are going to have a nice dinner and enjoy a glass of wine,” which is what we did.

I share this with you today since so many Champs chimed in with their thoughts and blessings.

There are still many unanswered questions surrounding the case: the man’s motive and why he had to kill the young children are a mystery.   

Friday, October 31, 2014

Senior Dating: Commitment without Marriage

On Life and Love After 60 newsletter

By Thomas P. Blake                 10/31/14

Senior Dating: Commitment without marriage

As a columnist, I receive all kinds of questions from older singles. This week, Nancy, not her real name, emailed, “I’d like to ask you a personal question. Are you married legally to Greta?”

Nancy explained why she wanted to know: “I'm 65, and have a man I'd like to spend the rest of my life with. We've been together on and off for eight years. I don't want to marry legally, but would like some kind of ceremony of committing to each other and so would he.”

“I stayed home raising my ex-husband’s and my children for 25 years. We were divorced in 1996, he remarried. I have never remarried. After he passed away in 2009, I found out I get his SS benefits because of the length of time married to him. His second wife might get something also; they were married 13 years. If I were to marry legally, I’d lose the benefits.”

“Because I was a stay-at-home mom, my Social Security benefits will be far less than his benefits.

“Is there a way to be together with my guy without legally marrying so I don't lose SS benefits from my ex-husband?”

Before I give my opinion to Nancy, I strongly suggest she contact an attorney and/or make an appointment with her local Social Security office  to ensure she doesn’t do anything to jeopardize receiving her deceased husband’s benefits.

To answer Nancy’s initial question: no, Greta and I are not “married legally.” We aren’t even married at all. We’ve been together 16-plus years, and have lived together 13 of those years, most of them in her home, and currently in my home. I dare say that we have been blessed with the relationship the way it is. We share many expenses and our life is as good as it gets.

Nancy also wanted to know if Greta and I have had any kind of a commitment ceremony. The answer to that question is no as well. Every day of our lives together is a commitment to each other and we don’t feel the need to have a ceremony. Will any of this arrangement change in the future for us? Probably not but I suppose it could.

I went to my archives to find out what other Champs have said about committed-but-not-married (cbnm) relationships.

Annie said, “I met my partner five years ago. We are in a totally committed relationship and living together. We are continually surprised at the number of our friends who ask, ‘When is he going to make me legal?’ 

“We don't feel the need to be married. Our kids don't care one way or the other. We have designed a ring for me. I will wear it on my wedding ring finger, and we may or may not get married.  It's O.K.   We are turning 65 this year; we have earned the right to do as we wish.”

Nina said, “I am in my mid-fifties, six years-divorced, (recently broken up from a brief relationship that I'd mistakenly believed could last longer, but didn't), alone, have great friends, a pretty good life, and am fine with this for now. I probably don't want to re-marry, even if I find someone with whom love is real and mutual, but I would like to be in a committed, loving relationship. If it endured beyond a few years, I might want to live together, without marriage, for as long as that arrangement was able to last.” 

“Older people have already completed the child-raising task. They do not need to nail down a reproductive agreement. Older people have often spent a lifetime working and accumulating assets and they frequently like to keep their finances separate. Many want their children or grandchildren to be their sole heirs. Marriage or re-marriage can interfere with this inheritance plan or complicate it. Sometimes, it's simpler just to remain single, even while living together.

“Older couples who live together benefit from the closeness and companionship of a live-in partner, and probably live longer too. They can pool their money and talents, which means they will probably enjoy an enhanced lifestyle together. Those who, for religious or other reasons, are uncomfortable with this arrangement, can still get married.”    

Marcia stated, “Russ and I are one of the couples you wrote about in your 50 couples book. We did not marry for a myriad of reasons. We caution couples in their sixties concerning marriage as we have had a lifetime of building obligations and acquiring assets and responsibilities. My son thought, at first we should marry but has accepted the situation and is relieved that we didn’t.

“My grandchildren call Russ their honorary grandfather and adore him. We are happy and know that our medical is good, assets secure and we can enjoy each other at this time of life.

“I have known couples who have religious ceremonies under God and outside the law and they are also happy. Some couples keep their houses (highly recommended) and some buy a new one with a tenancy agreement in case one dies. We are not in our youthful building stage and cannot afford to make serious financial errors.

Mary Lynn said, “I am almost 64, and divorced since 1998.  I have dated on and off, but have yet to find that special someone for me.  However, I have no desire and no reason to get married again. 

“My best friend met someone online a few months ago and will be getting married next month.  She is on cloud nine because she has been looking for a husband for several years.  I don't want to rain on her parade - I have to be supportive - but I don't understand what the ‘obsession’ with marriage is.  If you're in a committed, loving, mutually nourishing relationship, what more do you need?”

Final reminder to Nancy: Sure, have a non-binding commitment ceremony, wear a ring, whatever you choose, just be sure to revisit the social security law first.