"Enjoy Life to the Fullest"
On the wall of my office, there is a picture of an old leather jacket, hand-drawn by my childhood friend from Jackson, Michigan, Rick Lenz, inscribed to me with the caption "Old Friend."
My Dear Old Friend
Rick is a very talented actor, author and illustrator. I am eight days older than Rick. As the years go by, I relish that painting more and more because it reminds me that there is nothing more important than the friendships we build and the experiences we encounter in life.
You Champs remind me of that picture. Many of you have been members of this newsletter for years. You are scattered throughout the United States, and live in many foreign countries, including South Africa, England, China, Australia, and New Zealand. Some of you I've met face-to-face, most of you I haven't. Regardless, you are all like family to me. When you share events that happen to you in your life that are good, it warms my heart. When bad things happen to you, they tear me apart.
This Tuesday, I received a tear-me-apart email: "This is Bobbe. Bob and I are the first couple, Chapter One, in your book "How 50 Couples Found Love After 50." I have to tell you that the man I married and who was my soulmate passed away December 25 and I'm devastated. I know I will get through this but it's difficult. I wanted to say thank you for including us in your book and what a great memory I will have and it was wonderful meeting you at your deli and spending time with you.
"I still read your newsletter which I enjoy...Take care of yourself and Greta and enjoy life to the fullest."
I replied to Bobbe, "Oh no. I am really saddened. I reread your story in the book and so recall the details of your story from when we were putting the book together.
"Your news hits home as you and Bob are very close to the age of Greta and me. I am 73; she turns 72 in May. Like you two, we love to travel; we have an extended trip scheduled for April into May. I am always hesitant to take these trips, always concerned about my deli and whether the staff can handle it in my absence. Your words, 'Enjoy life to the fullest' are a reminder that we need to do the things we want while we are still able to do them. We shall take that trip.
"You and Bob were brought together for a reason in a most unique way, the Chicago-California connection. I feel as if I have lost a close friend. You two have been a part of my life."
Weekly, it seems, I hear from long-time Champs and new Champs who have suffered adversities: health issues, breakups and the loss of their mates.
Among the couples featured in the "How 50 Couples Found Love After 50" book, Champ Gale, North Carolina and Champ Dave, Michigan, are also widowed. I think there are others--I apologize for not including their names.
Also from the book, Champs Leslie, Laura, Holly, Carlene, Jerry and Barb are no longer with their mates. And yet, they have moved on and are trying to "Enjoy life to the fullest." Another Champ and long-time friend whose story is also in the book, is spending the winter in Mexico without his partner for the first time in years. He sent an email this week saying, "Saturday night is the loneliest night of the week." I feel his sadness; I hope they work it out and reunite soon.
More than 40 of the couples from that book are still together. Some have faced other adversities, family issues, employment issues--such as Patricia and Cowboy--and yet last summer over a four-day period, they travelled on their motorcycle 1,000 miles while camping and enjoying friends." They live life to the fullest.
Say a little prayer for Bobbe. Her news should remind us, whether we are a single or a part of a couple, that it is important to pursue our dreams and keep in touch with old friends, because in the end, nothing else matters. We're fortunate, Champs, to have each other to share our good news and our not-so-good news together.
Old friends: "Enjoy Life to the Fullest."
Rick Lenz website: www.RickLenz.com