By Tom Blake
Pam, 77, a Southern California single, emailed: “I was married for 28 years and then was ambushed by divorce. I have been single for 30 years and have been enjoying your articles for nearly that long. Your wise advice is always appreciated. Thank you for the generosity of your time and compassion for the singles of a certain age.
“A year after my divorce, I dated Dan, whom I met in the singles Sunday school class at the EV Free Church in Fullerton. A girlfriend of mine from the class (Jeanne) dated another man from the class (Jim); he and Dan were good friends. The four of us did a lot of fun things together. We were all ‘dumpees’ (our spouses had left us).
“Six months after we all met, Jim’s wife decided she wanted him back. He reconciled with her. I never forgot that he told Jeanne that the four of us made a great couple!
“Shortly after that, Dan broke up with me, and everyone moved on. Dan and I remained friends and would date off and on through the years.
“Jim was remarried to his ex for 10 years, and then she kicked him to the curb again.
“In the meantime, Jeanne married a terrific man.
“When Dan and I were in one of our dating-again times, Dan invited Jim over for a BBQ. During the evening, Jim and I discovered that we had a lot of interests in common. We decided to do some activities as just friends. Our friendship turned to love.
“Jim told Dan about our love. Dan was angry for a while, but got over it. Jim reminded Dan that Dan had his chance with me for years, and he blew it! Jim and I were so happy for 14 years. I have no family, and I was included as family by his married daughters and grandchildren. Jim and Dan remained best buddies. Jim jokingly told Dan that in his will, he was leaving me to Dan.
“Last December, my sweet Jim passed away from heart failure. He was 80. I saw Dan for the first time in 14 years at the service.
“A few months later, Dan asked me to dinner. We are now dating if you can call it that at our age. We thought we were old when we were divorced in our 40s, but now, we really are! He’s also 77. We are comfortable talking about Jim and sharing stories about him, and I like that. Neither wants to be married.
“Dan is still a homebody with few interests, but that’s OK. In 2018 and 2019, I had vertebrae surgeries, and I am doing well but have limitations, which Dan is very understanding about. So here we are together 30 years later, comfortable companions.”
Tom’s comment: I told Pam I needed to create a flow chart to understand the group’s saga. Pam’s story provides two senior-relationship lessons.
1. Seniors should not burn bridges. They must forgive, forget, and move on. They never know when old friends or old flames might reappear. In Pam’s case, if she had pushed Dan out of her life forever after he dumped her, she likely wouldn’t be with him as “a comfortable companion” 30 years later. Having a companion is a lot better than going it alone when seniors are in their 70s or 80s.
2. Previous relationships can rekindle. We hear of people reconnecting at high school and college reunions. And in Pam’s situation, after being with Jim for 14 years, she’s spending time with Dan, who was Jim’s friend. They can talk about Jim without either one getting wigged out.
I wonder if Jim willed Pam to Dan, as he had joked. That’s kind of a cute twist to this somewhat hard-to-follow story.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.