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Reflections On A 63rd Birthday

By Tom P Blake - Finding Love after 50

This past Monday, another birthday rolled by. It was my ninth since the column started, 437 consecutive weeks ago.

When we experience adversity -- like losing a mate -- we seldom understand that down the road our life may be better than before.

Adversity hatched the column.

As has happened to many of you, my marriage ended unexpectedly. I tried to understand what was going on in my life so I started keeping a journal.

Soon, most of my notes were about middle-age dating, a challenging experience for which few of us are prepared.

Seven months after my wife left, two women editors at the south county newspapers decided women might enjoy reading about the pathetic dating exploits of a single man. Hence, the column began, based on the entries in my journal.

This week, I reviewed the nine years of columns and saw the different post-marriage stages evolve: shock, anger, financial belt-tightening, dating again, getting rejected, getting dumped, drinking too much vino, eating too much pasta, not getting enough sleep, acting immature, living with a woman, the breakup, meeting another woman, and eventually living with her. We're still happily together.

It's the best time of my life.

I'm particularly blessed because I shared Monday's birthday with my mom -- we were both born on Veterans Day. She turned 92 and last week passed the DMV test to get her driver's license renewed.

I'm also blessed that four years ago Greta entered my life, bringing me stability and love. She is the most gentle, caring, mellow, kind, fair and giving person I've ever known.

Sharing our lives is easy. The key: respect and giving each other space. I'm grateful to have come in contact with thousands of readers. We have some wonderful friendships -- although in many cases, we've never met in person.

Many of you have revealed your names, cities, personal issues and dating secrets. When you do that, you help the thousands of singles who read the column.

My passion and purpose for writing it is to give readers hope and information that will help them enrich their lives, with or without a mate.

If a few of you hook up because of what you've read here, I'll be happy.

If I had a magic wand, I'd eliminate all of the loneliness in the world.

I'm also blessed because there are two other special women in my life. They've been there for 16 years, and are the most honest and loyal friends one could ever have.

Teresa and Rosa have worked with me at our deli -- Tutor and Spunky's in Dana Point -- since the day we opened in 1988.

In a world of chains and fast-food restaurants, where independents often get buried, they make our little sandwich shop a special place, sort of the "Cheers" of Dana Point.

We've lost special people this year, Leo Bestgen for one. I wrote a column in January 1996 about how Leo and his wife, Mary, met.

And we lost Kathleen and Gus Rentziperis, both within a matter of days, parents of Alex, Faye, and Mark, all south county residents. Alex owns the Sports Barber, another unique "local" business in Dana Point. Kathleen and Gus were special to me, the very salt of the earth.

And then we lost Greta's grandson, Chase Marchello, a precious young man, who was too young to leave us.

I appreciate and care about all of you.

Enjoyed our birthday, Mom.

Weekly comments:

Jan, Laguna Niguel: "I have a hard time meeting quality men. I like Home Depot but I'm not hanging around there (as Dr. Phil recommends). Any help you could give me would be great." Response: Get out and involved in activities or hobbies you enjoy. There are no guarantees you'll meet a quality man, but your chances will be greatly improved. Home Depot? I don't think so.

Jean, Orange: "Many of my lady friends are satisfied being single, widowed & living alone. They don't have to share their money, their home, cook, clean for anyone or do laundry. Maybe people are afraid of the big commitment at any age." Response: Lots of singles are self sufficient, and that's positive.

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