By Tom Blake
I’ve often stressed the importance of social interaction for seniors, especially for single seniors who are often alone. I remind them to get out of the house and make new friends. Interacting with people is important for one’s health.
I also encourage single seniors to be friendly, and a bit assertive, but not aggressive, by introducing themselves to strangers who look pleasant and receptive. A smile can open doors to meeting new people.
Lately, I’ve become aware that this advice applies to me in my period of grieving, after losing my partner of 25 years, Greta, three months ago. I promised myself to venture out and be friendly with people I don’t know.
Friday, Jan. 20, was a gorgeous sunny day in Dana Point, a nice break from the nine powerful rainstorms our area had just endured. At about 11 a.m., there was no wind, so I decided to go stand-up paddleboarding around Dana Point Island.
When I launched from Baby Beach, I was the only person on the water, at least as far as I could see. I had the whole darn harbor to myself except for sea lions that were camped on a dock across from The Wind and Sea Restaurant, barking at each other.
About a quarter-mile into my paddle, I noticed a person in a small yellow kayak about 75 yards ahead of me, heading in the same direction as I was heading. When I got alongside the kayak, a woman smiled and waved.
She was wearing the biggest sunglasses I’d ever seen, so I couldn’t guess her age because her face was covered. These days, many senior women are kayaking, paddling outriggers and stand-up paddleboarding in Dana Point Harbor, which is wonderful.
I waved at her. She said, “What a beautiful day. I’m Lynda, what’s your name?”
“Tom,” I replied, and asked, “Do you kayak often?”
She said, “I work. So, I kayak usually on weekends. Today, I have the day off. I work in Laguna Beach, at three different doctors’ offices. I love coming here. I moved here from Ohio 10 years ago.”
I said, “Ohio? Oh, no. Are you an Ohio State Buckeye fan? I’m originally from Michigan, a Wolverine fan.”
Lynda said, “Oh, do you mean that dreaded team up north?” (That’s how Buckeye fans refer to the Michigan team). We both laughed.
And then she asked, “Do you mind if I tag along with you around the island? It’s lonely out here with no one to chat with.”
“Great,” I replied.
And that’s what we did. I admired Lynda’s enthusiasm and positive attitude.
She said, “Do you still work?”
“Yes, I’m a newspaper columnist.”
“What do you write about? She asked.
“Dating after 50.”
Lynda laughed and said, “Oh, wow, I’m almost there.”
Our paddling together lasted about an hour. We chatted while securing our boards atop the roof racks of our cars.
“Can we paddle together again?” Lynda asked.
“Text me when you plan to go,” I said, and handed her my Picket Fence Media business card.
We thanked each other and waved goodbye. A new friendship had been born.
Later that day, Lynda sent me a text with a picture she had taken of me and said, “I read some of your newspaper articles; pretty touching. It is so nice some of your readers found new love.”
When we are nice to strangers, and we smile, and are friendly, we never know who might enter our life, even in the most unusual of locations. Keep paddling.
Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at findingloveafter50.com. To comment: email@example.com.