Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Can the first love flame be rekindled after 50 years?‏

Most of us remember our first love. You've thought of him or her from time to time since you parted ways, oh so many years ago. You've pondered, "I wonder what would have happened if..." Perhaps you've kept in touch, or seen that person at a reunion, or in many situations, you've lost complete track. Today's story is about the latter. We've changed the names at the request of a Champ we'll call Tina.

She wrote, "This is Tina from northern California. I am 70, a retired operating room nurse, enjoying every minute of retirement.

"Fifty years ago (1964), I met a young 2nd Lieutenant in training in the Air Force at Mather AFB in the Sacramento area and we fell in love. We had six wonderful months together before he was sent back to Florida. We wrote often but as stories go, distance makes maintaining a relationship difficult especially at age 22.

"I saw him one time more, in 1965, on my way to the Caribbean on vacation, on a stopover in Miami. He had married another lady and was happy. I was heartbroken but understood. I tucked him away in my heart as a memory.

"Through the years, I occasionally thought of him and what had happened to him. I was most worried that he had perished during his tour of duty in Vietnam as a pilot. I tried to find him several times to no avail.

"About a month ago, I got a 'friends' request from Facebook; I didn't recognize the name. I wrote back: 'Who are you?' No response for two weeks. I got another request asking if I was the lovely lady (my maiden name) he had met 50 years ago, and his name.

"It was John (not his real name). I was shocked! How did he find me? Well I guess there is a way if you know what you are doing on a computer. Obviously not me!

"We chatted for several weeks and I invited him to visit this past week. He was here for two days and it was a wonderful reunion. He wasn't the dashing young lieutenant I loved so much but he still had the personality and certain features I saw on his face.

"Fifty years change us all, but there was that broad smile and his bright twinkling Irish eyes.

"We talked and got caught up on 50 years. Our lives went different ways, and we have totally different life styles now.

"He has been living in southern California on a ranch he bought in 1967. So close, yet so far!

"He has been separated for 10 years from the woman he married back then. He has two grown children and has built a life he is comfortable in.

"There was no 'love connection' in the sense we would pursue something. But, this time, I will never let him go as a close friend. I still love him, but not as that young man I met when I was so young. He was my first love and will always be in my heart that way.

"The point of this story: you never know when something wonderful will happen in your life. I may never have found out what happened to him had he not been thinking of me all these years and decided to investigate. 

"In a way, it's a fairy tale that some people never get to experience.

"He will always be in my life from this time forward. But, I think it now will be a love of friendship, in that he has his life of stock market trading, attending swap meets and spending time at the VFW hall.

"He loves his ranch--13 acres in a desert area. Not my cup of tea. We have both carved out our paths to the end but I know we will see each other again. We may even go on a little vacation together. The romantic part is gone though.

"I have an active senior life. I am still using singles sites to find that last great love. Nothing yet.

"Tina requested I not use either of their real names, saying, "He has a lot of old cronies that might subscribe to your newsletter and they might figure out it was he. His separated wife also lives close to him."

Tom's comment: Interesting that two weeks in a row the term, "not my (or our) cup of tea" was used by women describing aspects of their lives.

I imagine there will be a lot of Champs who read today's story who will reflect back with warm feelings on the first love of their lives. But, as Tina suggested, the memories and friendship will likely remain, but the romance candle will likely be out. 

 Part 2  - Champs on the move

This is the third and final installment written from Sonoma County, in the heart of wine country. On Saturday, Greta, her daughter, Tammi, son-in-law Stephen, and I pack up a Uhaul truck, and then on Sunday, we say good-by to the community of Oakmont (five miles east of Santa Rosa) and drive the truck to Dana Point in Orange County and offload furniture and belongings at my home. 

Last week, I received an email from Leslie, one of our Champs. In November, she moved from Newport Beach in southern California to this community of Oakmont. Greta and I got to visit Leslie last Friday at her new home here and enjoyed our 45 minutes together.

Coincidentally, Leslie and her family were the first tenants we had in our Oakmont home five years ago when we were renting the home out as a vacation rental. She also is one of the featured couples in the book, "How 50 Couples Found Love After 50," which I published five years ago. After 37 years as a teacher, she is loving retirement and enjoys the Oakmont environment. Small world.

      front and back cover new book  


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Meet and Greet gathering not a widow's "cup of tea."

A woman named Diane emailed me on Thursday afternoon, February 27, with a simple request: "Please place me on your Meet and Greet mailing list." I didn't read her email at the time because I was preparing my Dana Point, California, deli for our monthly Singles Age 50+ Meet and Greet gathering for the same evening.

Diane and a woman friend came to the Meet and Greet that night and introduced themselves. Before blending into the crowd, she mentioned that she was widowed a year and a half ago. She was very pleasant and quite attractive and I knew she would have no trouble making new friends, especially that night, because 65 people attended the event. I did not see Diane and her friend the rest of the evening.

After the Meet and Greet, when I got home, I checked my emails and responded to Diane's earlier email, by writing, "Good to meet you tonight; I've added you to the email list, as you requested."

The following Tuesday, March 4, Diane emailed, "It was a pleasure to meet you last Thursday at your Meet and Greet. Unfortunately, my girlfriend and I left shortly after our arrival for a few reasons. We decided for one, after attending two 'singles' functions (yours being the second) that they are not our cup of tea.

"To us, it almost feels like you are placing yourself on display...here I am, I'm single...Come and get me. There are other ways to meet the opposite sex through friends, and at different functions. But since you said that 14 happy couples have joined together as a result of your functions, I applaud you for your efforts and subsequent success stories. Oh, remove me from your mailing list."

No big deal. People sign up for and remove themselves from my email lists often. I usually don't correspond with them after that.

But I thought about what Diane wrote and decided to respond, saying: "I removed you from the mailing list. But let me say this. You are an attractive person, pleasant, and I think whether you like events like ours or not, you would have met a person of interest there sooner or later.

It is unfortunate you left so early, before the point in the evening when we have an open microphone where people can make comments. A woman named Joy who had attended our functions for more than a year came to the microphone and introduced her new significant other, a man she had met at one of our recent events. 

Joy is a widow. Greta and I feel she is an elegant woman, thoughtful, and lovely. She wanted to tell the other attendees that she had met her man at our event and how grateful she was.

                                        Joy and her new beau

That could and probably would have happened to you. But instead, you felt like you were on display and made the quick exit.

Wherever one goes in life where there are new people one has never met, one is going to be looked at and judged by people-on display, if you will. That's why people who care about themselves, and their appearance, always try to put their best foot forward, even when they go to the grocery store.

Our Meet and Greet events are more of a place to make new friends-men or women-and less of a place to seek a date. You and your girlfriend were not on display any more than the other 63 people who attended, and there certainly was no "come and get me" radar signal emanating from either one of you. Sorry it wasn't your cup of tea. 

Had you stayed for another hour or so, and given it a chance, as Joy had done, you would have likely realized that it was a lovely group of people, and not a meat market.

I wouldn't want anyone to attend who didn't feel comfortable being there. As you re-enter the social world recovering from your loss, I suggest you stop worrying about the "come and get me" issue, and just focus on having a smile and enjoying what life will bring.

To comment: tompblake@gmail.com

For Meet and Greet information: http:www.TutorandSpunkys.com

 Part 2  - Updates from last week's newsletter

Regarding Tom, the man who lives in Baja who finds meeting women difficult there: We put him in touch with a few Champs. Also, some Champs made great suggestions for him. Hopefully, he'll keep us posted. 

We also put a few Champs in touch with the woman making the documentary on dating after 50 in New York City. Nothing new to report.

I also mentioned last week that Greta and I are in Kenwood, in the heart of the Sonoma County wine country, cleaning out the home where my mom lived. Thanks to so many of you who sent suggestions on packing and paring down. We are enjoying the experience. When we get bogged down, we simply enjoy a glass of the exquisite Sonoma County wine.

Plus, we've been entertained most of the week by deer hanging around our backyard window. Can you see seven of them?

7 deer mar 2014 

Enjoy your week-end


Living South of Tijuana. Single man wonders where the women are

Tom, one of our Champs, emailed this week: "Love your blog and note. Soooo..I'm a 66 year-old male in Baja CA., have a beautiful beach house right on the water 35 miles south of San Ysidro (a border town). Yes in Mexico. I'm semi retired, have a good life and friends but where are the ladies who could move across the border and live like kings and queens for less than 1/3 of the cost of living in San Diego? And be safer. REALLY!

"Maximize one's retirement $$ and have a great affordable beach lifestyle. I've been here for two years, told I'm attractive yet don't meet the right ladies, HELP!"

Usually, having difficulty meeting potential mates later in life is a topic raised by women. But today it's raised by a man. Among all of the reasons why finding love after age 60 is difficult, one of the most overlooked reasons is where a person chooses to live.

When Tom decided to retire to his "beautiful beach house," assuming he was single at the time, he likely didn't think about the lack of women he would meet there.

While he says it's safer there than living in San Diego, the perception among most people in Southern California is that getting there, which would be by car, is not safe because you have to drive through Tijuana. Most of my friends won't chance it. There have been lots of reports of horror stories that have happened down there.

My guess is that most single women who decide to leave the expensive living in California would go to Arizona, Florida or another stateside Mecca for retirees. Also, there are other areas in Mexico, and other countries, considered much safer, where lots of American ex-pats go to live.

Singles who live in remote areas of the country, or in small towns, or on oil rigs, are kind of in the same boat. There just aren't many potential mates in those areas, and being attractive or not has nothing to do with it. 

Perhaps Tom will get a few nibbles from single women from today's newsletter who might be willing to check out the area if he is willing to host them for a visit. And since he's been told he is attractive, that might just be enough of an incentive for women to give it a whirl.

They could fly to the Tijuana Airport where he would pick them up. But then, they would have to drive through Tijuana to get to his place. Not many women are going to be willing to have a blind date, stay overnight, plus have to pass through the streets of Tijuana for the possibility of finding love.

Tom didn't say if he's fluent in Spanish. If not, he is in the perfect location to learn the language, and then he could go online and search for Hispanic women who might live in his own backyard and might relish meeting an Americano.

I picture Tom sitting on his deck, looking out at the magnificent Pacific Ocean, enjoying  a sunset with margarita in hand, but doing so alone. Not much fun.

If any offers come in, I will pass them on to Tom. Where one lives can be a huge factor in one's chances of meeting a potential mate or not.

 Part 2  - Changes in my life as well

Lately, we have featured stories about Champs making changes in their lives. Last week, we wrote about MJ moving across country to live rent-free for awhile. In December, we wrote about Jackie and Linda, Ohio women, who are living in their RV in Santa Barbara. Champs are on the move.

Greta and I are no exception; our lives are changing as well. Today's newsletter is being emailed from Sonoma County, California, where we will be for a couple of weeks. Since my mom passed away nearly five years ago, her home has been a vacation rental. 

However, starting April 1, a couple from Maui is renting the home for three years. They are bringing their own furniture so Greta and I are cleaning out Mom's house and driving the furniture and "stuff" in a Uhaul to my home in Dana Point in Orange County, to where we are moving, from San Clemente. While there is a lot of work involved, we are excited about the changes.

Yesterday morning, I looked at the pots, pans, plates and other items in the kitchen and said, oh my gosh, all of that "stuff" has to be transported to Southern California. I'd better get to work. 

I will attempt to keep the newsletters flowing but there may be a week missed here and there.

I will keep you posted. 


Saturday, March 1, 2014

A woman's quest to live rent free so she can visit Italy

One of the fun aspects of writing this newsletter is I never know what responses each one will bring. There are always unanticipated surprises. Prompted by last week's message regarding overcoming adversity that leads to opportunity, MJ surprised me with her rather amazing story.

MJ emailed, "My life took a left turn when I lost almost all of my savings in the housing bubble in 2009. For the second time in my life (first was when I was 20 and just married), I was back in a tiny apartment, but it cost a lot more these days and especially in Orange County (California).

"My rent had increased $300 a month over the last six months making my rent for under 800 sq ft, $1600 a month. I decided that even though I loved being 'Ballet Shuttle' for my granddaughters for three years, I could no longer stand to see my bank account go negative each month.

"I had to find a place to live that I could afford. With the help of my wonderful neighbors, I pared down and put what was left in storage and I am off seeking an adventure.

"I have made and kept friends from grade school and from my travels. Without them, I would not be living rent free for the next three to six months. Without rent, I pray that I can afford to go on a pilgrimage to Italy with my longtime Florida pastor (I lived in Florida 27 Years) as well as cruise around the Hawaiian Islands with my girlfriend since the 5th grade. She and I turn 70 this summer.

"My pastor's mom is leaving Arizona and going back to south Florida. This pastor is the one leading the pilgrimage. He said, 'Live with mom rent free and then you can afford the Italy trip.'

"So I am driving across country to visit friends and family. By the time I get to south Florida, I hope to know where I am to live. Being a self-imposed homeless person and with absolutely wonderful family and friends, I know God will show me where I can be of help and love everyday.

"I realized that I need very little of what George Carlin called 'Stuff' and I should have gotten rid of all my 'Stuff' and started totally anew."

Note from Tom: At the end of today's newsletter, there is a link to a hilarious 5-minute George Carlin YouTube video on "Stuff."

MJ continued, "I don't know if a man is in the cards but I am determined to live my life to the fullest and be joyful. I have more than my share of health challenges and it taught me to share hope with friends and whomever God puts in my path that are now experiencing their own health issues.

"In south Florida, one can rent the same size place overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway or the ocean. I am not pigeonholing myself into going back to south Florida, where I have friends and my brother. But it's a big pull.

"I have been a faithful reader of your newsletters since early 2000, when I was living in south Florida, and then in Orange County where I came to meet you at your previous deli location. My only regret is not coming to your new deli location to see you once again and to the Meet and Greet gatherings, but I will be in Orange County again when I visit my granddaughters. From my three years of driving them to ballet lessons (ballet shuttle), we have built a great relationship together that I pray will last the rest of our lives.

"I left Orange County February 1, so I have not let much grass grow under my feet. I only wish I wrote well enough to write a diary of my travels. I will cherish every moment and will keep a constant vigil for what God has for me daily.

"Currently, I am in Tucson. So far on my journey I have been given the rare opportunity to tour a new Mormon Temple, attend the world's largest GEM show multiple times and a gourd festival, and much more."

Tom responded to MJ: Wow. I had no idea you were pursuing a new dream. You do write well enough to keep a journal. Besides, how well a person writes doesn't matter in journaling. Why not join the blog website, wordpress.com (free) and write a blog? I am sure some of our Champs would enjoy following your brave adventure. MJ said she had been thinking about writing a blog and will pursue that. She added, "I have prayed about where I am to live for the past three years; it seems that God is opening many doors for me! I will let you know where my travels take me."

Five minute George Carlin you tube video on stuff: