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Don't rush senior life-changing decisions

There are three parts to this week’s newsletter.

In 2009, I published “How 50 Couples Found Love After 50.”

Now, eight years later, I have contemplated doing a follow-up on what became of each couple. But, some of the couples I have lost contact with and a follow-up would be somewhat incomplete.

I do know this: Several of the couples are still together, and several are no longer together. In some cases, one of the partners passed away.

One Champ featured in the 50 Couples book didn’t make it past the three-year mark in her relationship. She was from Illinois; he was from Ohio. They had a long-distance relationship. When I published the book, I had an inkling that red flags were surfacing but kept my mouth shut.

In July, 2012, she emailed me: “It was a tough break up and I am slowly healing from the emotional and verbal abuse that quietly crept up over the past few years. He sucked my self-esteem out of me like a vampire in the night.”

After reading last week’s “No Place To Live” newsletter, she sent an update on what has transpired since then.

“After ending that relationship, I made the most irresponsible decision of my life three years ago. I had a housemate (a strictly platonic man; we had been living together as friends for 26 years). We lived in Illinois where I grew up and where my friends and son live.

“I had a great job, a house which was in both of our names, a car and I was beginning a nice relationship with a male friend I had worked with for many years. He was going through a divorce and I was going through my breakup. I knew this new connection was not a forever one, but we were having a nice time while supporting each other through our situations. It really was wonderful. We remain friends to this day.

“My 26-year housemate decided it was time for him to retire and so we put the house on the market. I was still reeling from the end of the emotional and psychological relationship; I was not thinking with my brain at all.

“I was told by my housemate that I should sell my car, quit my job and go to Florida, where he had bought a big, beautiful house. My name is not on this house. He told me not to worry, that I didn't have to work if I didn't want to.

“Our Illinois house sold quickly (we broke pretty much even on the deal). I sold my car and quit my job. I now believe I was promised these things to make sure that I would sign the real estate documents to sell the house.

“For the first year in Florida, I cried myself to sleep every evening. My housemate told me that the job he thought I would be able to get was no longer an option. I tried for months to get a job, only to end up being told again and again that I was over qualified for what was available in Florida.

“I worked a retail job for a week at $8.50 an hour and ended up in Urgent Care because my arthritis was so bad, I developed a stress fracture and was in a boot. After a bunch of blood tests, my doctor informed me I had developed Hashimoto's disorder and that I had osteoarthritis in my ankles, and my hands. I am now, luckily, on Social Security Disability and receive about $1,800 a month. I was approved quickly.

“The point of this story is that I got myself into a real pickle, but after only two months, I was awarded Social Security Disability. I have put my name on the lists to get back to Illinois into a 55+ senior community. I am not 62 so I can't put my name on any of those for another year.

“My life has been a roller-coaster ride. I have made wonderful friends here in The Villages, Florida, but I yearn for home. I yearn for my own place. I go on short trips to get away from what I call the ‘House of Betrayal.’ I travel to Chicago at least twice a year. I have adopted two little dogs to keep me company and brighten my life. I do not pay anything here (I refuse to after I lost my entire world) and I have been putting money away each month.

“After reading your newsletter, I thought it would be good to share a wonderful website with low-income housing options all over the U.S. Which ones are opened, closed, etc. Our Champ in the “Coyote Ugly” situation can take a look at this site. I check it all the time. The waiting lists are long. I've been on the one in Illinois for a year. I can't wait to go home.”

Part 2 – Waltzing across Texas

In the March 17 newsletter, I mentioned Champ Ken, who was headed to Austin, San Antonio and Bandera, Texas, with his woman friend, to enjoy dancing. Ken said, “We had a great time. Bandera, Texas has great dancing honky tonks.”

Ken and dance partner

Part 3 – On our way to Spain and Portugal

Seville Plaza de Espana

My partner Greta and I fly to Spain this coming Monday. We will be in Madrid for a week, Seville for a week, and Faro, Portugal for two weeks. I will update you from over there.

I intend to not skip a newsletter, but that could happen. Please keep your stories, comments and questions coming.

Tom's book available on

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