By Tom Blake
The underlying message in my previous article—opportunity often arises from adversity—struck a chord with several readers.
A San Clemente resident named Karen, who has had heavy adversity in her life, emailed a response that inspired me.
She wrote, “Your last article focusing on opportunity and adversity had an impact on me. I fit your over-50 profile.”
Karen married her college sweetheart the summer after they graduated in 1976. They had two sons. She loved being a homemaker.
She said, “My husband Mike climbed the corporate ladder. Our lifestyle got bigger and better. Then Mike was diagnosed with cancer at age 39 and was given three to four years to live. That was unacceptable to us. We’d heard about bone marrow transplantation and decided to go for it. So we swapped the death sentence for a life sentence.
“Mike’s goal was to help his young sons grow to manhood. He lived for 18 years after the transplant. He lost the career, so we swapped roles and I became the bread winner. Forget about feminism and the women’s movement; it was time for me to change gears and pay some bills.
“At age 56, I was widowed. I had two amazing sons, a promising career, good health and a tremendous desire to live my life to its fullest. I took care of myself, attended support groups, and eventually found myself leading them.
“After a few years, I had revved up the career, joined Match.com, gained two beautiful daughters-in-law, changed careers, joined networking groups, sold the house and moved to the beach. I had two astounding grandbabies, traveled, dated some wonderful men, retired and got active in Toastmasters and Rotary. I worked my body and mind four to five times per week, gave motivational speeches, joined Meetup.com and cherished some unbelievable friends.”
Karen said her friends often told her she should write a book. But she balked—she felt people wouldn’t want to read about her sad story, even though she had overcome adversity.
“And then,” Karen said, “my older son, Donovan, died of cancer last summer at age 37. Adversity? I got it. Sometimes, I think I’m way overqualified in the adversity department.
“Your article, ‘In Life, Opportunity Often Arises from Adversity,’ made me think maybe I should write a book—not only for myself, but for others. I believe I have the passion and the ability to write. I was sitting in sunlight when I started this message. Now I’m in the dark.
“I could use some advice. Have you ever thought about mentoring someone?”
I responded to Karen: “Yes, you are ‘overqualified’ in the adversity department. My heart goes out to you, and your courage with what you have been through.
“Sometimes we don’t see the opportunity that arises until time has passed, and that is what is happening with you. It likely is time for you to write your book.
“You have walked the walk, losing both your husband and son. You are an expert on this topic. Writing can be cathartic and helpful to you and to others who have faced adversity or are doing so now. Plus, you are energetic and have a creative way with words.
“As far as mentoring you in writing, yes, I can help get you started in the right direction.”
Karen said she will start writing; she already has a working title for a book. She explained how that came about: “Last summer I was sitting in the street at a small-town parade with my 2-year-old grandson sitting in my lap. He was so darned excited to see another vehicle with flashing lights. Out of his beautiful mouth: ‘Nana, look at what’s coming!’ Yep, that’s the title: Look at What’s Coming.”
We look forward to Karen sharing her book with the world.
Tom Blake is a Dana Point resident and a former Dana Point businessman who has authored several books on middle-aged dating. See his websites at www.findingloveafter60.com; www.Vicsta.com and www.Travelafter55.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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