By Tom Blake
When I started writing newspaper columns 28 years ago, my focus was on dating and finding love after age 50. My first article was in the Dana Point News, a community newspaper owned by The Orange County Register. The article was titled, “Home Alone with Only Dogs For Company.”
After a few years, my column was featured in 10 Register community papers. I decided to expand the focus to include finding love after 60, 70, and eventually 80.
When I joined Picket Fence Media, I changed the title of the column to “On Life and Love after 50.” I felt by adding the word “Life” into the title, I could write on topics that were not just about senior dating, but on other issues and experiences that seniors deal with as they age.
Stories from readers who had lost mates increased. Some had divorced, of course. But I was hearing more and more from widowed people. Many were eager to share their stories; they said it was cathartic for them. Those stories tugged hard on my heart.
Last month, San Clemente resident Chris Anastasios died from a long bout with pancreatic cancer. He was in his late 80s. My partner, Greta, and I attended Chris’ and his wife Tina’s wedding in 2017 at the Dana Point Yacht Club. I wrote an article about their wedding.
Tina is from England. I teased Tina and Chris about their having the longest, long-distance relationship of which I had ever known—4,300 miles. They met when he was a dance host on a cruise ship and dated for 13 years before getting married.
Chris played Tarzan in some old movies. Chris had a heart of gold; he volunteered as a dance host at many senior clubs and centers in Orange County.
And just a week ago, I heard from another reader/friend whose husband had died two days before; they had been married for three years. We spoke on the phone; she said the conversation cheered her up.
I want to be able to help people who are hurting and suffering and having a column to do that is a huge gift I’ve been given.
We have many readers, of whom I’m aware, who are experiencing health issues as they move through their 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Some want to share their stories and experiences, and I want to ensure that it’s proper for me to write about them.
I have another friend who is having cancer surgery this coming Monday. She’s concerned, of course. But she also knows she’s had a great life and she’s going to tackle this challenge head-on.
Which brings me to an update.
On July 11, life changed for me and Greta in a split second. We were inside of Mission Hospital Laguna Beach walking toward the first-floor blood drawing station, as Greta needed blood work done for an upcoming minor procedure.
I was holding Greta’s arm. I noticed her left shoe flew forward off her foot. Her body was headed in that direction as well.
I was able to catch her so that her head didn’t hit the floor. But her hip did, and it hit hard. Greta was writhing in pain. In an instant, four nurses appeared and lifted her onto a gurney. I said to the nurses, “We are going to the blood drawing station.”
The lead nurse shook her head and said, “No, you are not. You are heading to the Emergency Room,” which was only steps away.
We were there for 10 hours, and then they transferred Greta to a room. She broke her hip. She had hip repair (not replacement) surgery on July 13. She was transferred to a skilled nursing facility called The Orchards in Rancho Mission Viejo on July 16.
What an awesome place; the employees are amazing. My respect and admiration for health care workers has skyrocketed. Greta is recovering there, and I hope to have her home in two to three weeks.
Thanks for everybody’s support. Greta’s family and friends have really stepped to the plate. I’m a lucky guy.
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.