On Life and Love after 50 - November 11, 2016
Comment from Tom: Before we begin, I wanted to mention that last Saturday night Greta and I went to hear Kris Kristofferson perform. While standing in the lobby before the show, one of our Champs, Brigitte, came up and introduced herself. She said she enjoyed the edition of the newsletter in 2015 when we wrote about visiting Graz, Austria. Bridgett was born in Linz, Austria, and said she hoped we would continue to write about our travels.
As you will read today, we leave on a trip this Saturday and will write a bit about it.
After Brigitte walked away, another woman walked in the direction of Greta and me. She said to her woman friend, "Oh, there's that guy that writes that love column we sometimes don't agree with." And then she disappeared into the women's restroom.
It takes all kinds.
Greta and I felt that Kris, now 80, did an excellent job. It was just Kris and his guitar on stage and he sang nonstop for about 90 minutes. He is a prolific song writer; it is estimated that more than 450 artists have recorded songs he has written. He sang three of my favorites: "Help Me Make It Through The Night," "Sunday Morning Coming Down," and "Loving Her Was Easier." (Link to the latter song at the end of today's column)
There are two parts to today's newsletter
Part one - A time to pause and reflect
Today and tomorrow are important days for me. There are two events that are happening that are making me pause and reflect on how blessed I have been in my life.
The first event is today, November 11, my birthday. I have never received a birthday card in the mail on my birthday. It’s not because I’m not loved (so I am told); it’s because the post office is always closed on my birthday, in honor of Veterans Day.
Actually, I am proud to have been born on November 11, the day the Armistice was signed by the Allies of World War I and Germany, ending that war. I remember when November 11 was called Armistice Day. In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, the Federal Government changed the name to Veterans Day, to honor allAmerican veterans, living and dead.
I am proud because I am a veteran (Viet Nam), and because I was born on my mother’s birthday as well. Having stood on the sand at Omaha Beach in Normandy in France, this past April, I will pause and
Statue on Omaha Beach in Normandy. "The Braves," in honor of the thousands who lost their lives there
reflect today on the great sacrifice our country, especially our troops, made to save the world in WWII. I can remember vividly the day that war ended. There were fire engines and police cars with sirens on in great celebration in my city of Jackson, Michigan. I asked my Dad, "What is going on?" With tears in his eyes, he said, "The war is over."
The second event this week that will cause me to pause and reflect happens tomorrow. On that day, my partner Greta and I are leaving for India and Nepal. We realize how blessed and fortunate we are to be able to travel at our age. We intend to continue to do so for as long as we can, while we are healthy enough to go.
When Greta and I met in June, 1998, one of the things we had in common was a love of traveling. We've taken several; we've been blessed in that our trips have happened without any serious or dangerous incidents.
But that doesn’t mean we haven’t had safety concerns before leaving on trips.
In March, 2004, we were leaving for Spain. Our itinerary back then was to fly to Madrid and hop a train from Madrid’s Atocha Train Station to go to the Costa del Sol for a week. While there, we planned to take the premier train to Barcelona and back. And then, we’d return by train to Atocha.
But, on March 4, 2004, a week before we were to leave, our excitement turned to trepidation. Ten terrorists’ bombs ripped through three Spanish train stations, including Atocha, killing 191 and injuring more than 1,800 people. The tracks we would have been on were among the ones bombed.
Our first reaction: This could have happened to us; it’s too dangerous to go to Spain. We ended up going, but rented a car instead, which we later realized was way more dangerous than the train.
In the fall of 2015, we made travel plans to fly to Germany in April of this year and then take the train through Brussels to Paris. We had several day trips by train planned from Paris. In May, we were to travel by train to Italy.
Then, there were six coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, killing 130 and wounding hundreds more. Those attacks put us in “Should we go?” mode.
As our April, 2016, departure neared, we were getting a little more comfortable about safety in Europe-- until March 22--when two suicide bombers attacked the Brussels Airport, and one attacked a Metro station—35 people died. Again, we wondered, should we just stay in Dana Point and not travel to Europe? We decided to go. Our trip turned out to be rewarding and wonderful.
On July 13, 2016, Bastille Day in France, Greta and I were saddened by the Isis-inspired attack when a truck plowed through a crowded street in Nice, France, killing 85. Greta and I walked on that same street a few years before.
We weigh event like that vs. knowing that time is slipping away, and someday, we won't be able to travel as much as we have over the last 18 years. And then we think of our Champ Chris A., who is 81, and his English girlfriend Tina, who still travel more than 200 days each year. They are an inspiration to Greta and me.
So, it’s travel time again. We leave for India and Nepal tomorrow. We have reflected on how fortunate we are to take this trip. So what happens? On November 1, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi sent out an email that read,
“Recent Indian media reports indicate ISIL’s desire to attack targets in India. The U.S. Embassy warns of an increased threat to places in India frequented by Westerners, such as religious sites, markets and festival venues. All U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness as detailed in the State Department’s Worldwide Caution of September 9, 2016.”
Of course, Taj Mahal is on our itinerary on this trip. It is probably the most frequented site visited by Westerners in all of India. Oh my gosh! We will keep you posted from over there.
Part 2 - Champs I am mentoring
A couple of our Champs have developed a special and unexpected relationship, one I’m happy to support and tell you about.
Christine Baumgartner and Joel Blackwell have been regular contributors over the years and you’ve seen their contributions in my newsletter and on our Facebook page.
I’ve known Christine for 20 years and have talked with her in person many times as she lives not far from me. She had a happy marriage and has been a widow for four years. Before she was married she was single for 20 years and actively dating. For the past eight years she’s developed a consulting business, counseling people on a one-to-on basis as well as in groups about finding love .
Joel has subscribed to my newsletter and contributed to the Facebook page for many years. I frequently pass on his thoughts and advice in the newsletter. He was married for 27 years and has two adult children and an ex-wife who still speaks well of him. After 12 years of dating and mating as a single man, he’s been in a healthy and happy relationship with a woman named Wendy for four years. He’s writing a memoir about his years as a single man in hopes of helping others avoid the mistakes he made.
Joel drove down from San Francisco so he and Christine could seek my advice about what he and Christine are doing. I was impressed with their plan and their ideas for helping people find love with their blog on dating and mating which you can read here:
Unlike our Facebook page, their intention is to moderate questions and give their answers concerning all the issues that arise around finding love later in life. I don’t know of any other forum in which you have a man and a woman (who are not in a personal relationship with each other) both offering their thoughts and experience to address the questions of boomers seeking love and I look forward to seeing how this develops. I recommend you sign up for their new blog.
Congratulations Joel and Christine! Check out their website. They are really nice people as well.
Talk to you from India in a week!
Link to Kris Kristoffersen "Loving Her Was Easier" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCgnbRWVvU8