By Tom Blake
Recently, I received an email from a man named Trent, in which he shared his story about unexpectedly becoming single later in life and the lesson he learned from it. I could relate to a part of his story: a similar experience happened to me, which I explain at the end of the column.
After Trent’s first marriage ended, he raised four children by himself while living in Utah. After five years, a friend introduced him to a woman who also had four children.
Trent said, “We dated for one year and married. We did a pretty good job of blending our families. I supported her and her kids for seven years. During the last three years of this economic recession, things became tight financially. I asked for her help via a part-time job but was met with resistance each time. Her youngest was 15, already in high school, so it wasn’t like I was asking her to leave a small child at home.
“Things went downhill from there and eventually she reconnected on Facebook with a man she had known from high school who lived in another state. Over many months, they corresponded and eventually met in person.
“Several months later, while I was out of town with my kids, she rented a moving truck and took off with about 80 percent of the items in our home. She pulled her three kids from work and school and they all headed east. I found out about the moving truck from a neighbor’s phone call and returned home several days later.”
Trent said his oldest step-daughter telephoned to tell him about the other man. Trent hired a private detective who tracked his wife down in Washington, D.C. She had taken a bunch of cash, his car and most of their furniture. He flew there and repossessed his car. Things weren’t working out too well for her.
Trent said, “Within two months, her younger kids had flown to stay with their dad in another state and within another month the youngest returned to live and attend high school and be with us again. My ex found out during the divorce that our home was under water as to equity and she had already gotten cash and furniture so that was about it.
“I was not paying alimony as the marriage was short-term and she was co-habitating with someone. Her child support for her kids went away when her kids went to stay with their dad and it turned out the fellow she fell for was renting his big home and did not own it. The moral of the story: the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
“I truly did love her, was hurt deeply by not just the breakup of our marriage but also the loss of sense of family. Being a social person it was really tough being all alone (except for my dog) and I never thought I would trust enough to date or marry again.”
So, what’s become of Trent? He has forgiven his ex-wife and wishes her success. He has slowly started dating again.
He said, “I travel on business and while in Southern California, I pulled up a dating website to scan profiles. I assumed it was showing me pictures and profiles of women in my home state but found out it automatically pulled up women in Southern California. A woman and I began messaging. We exchanged names and cell numbers.
“We enjoyed a great lunch and have been dating steady for months. This woman is smart, fit, sexy, spiritual, and kind. Despite my jaded past, I am falling in love again but with eyes much more wide open.
“I hope through the process of self improvement, becoming totally healed, and meeting an independent and happy woman, we will be able to form a new life together. May we all never give up.”
I can relate to Trent’s story, having had a similar experience. On Christmas Eve 1993, my wife of seven years backed up a U-Haul to our Dana Point home, took what furniture and belongings she wanted and moved out of my life. I was out of town visiting my mom. From that rather jolting experience, I began writing newspaper columns about being single after 50. My first article, published July 4, 1994, was titled “Home alone with only my dogs for company.” There have been close to 3,000 articles since.
As Trent did, I started dating again. On June 24, 1998, a R.H. Dana special education school teacher named Greta ordered a fresh carrot juice at Tutor and Spunky’s, my Dana Point deli. Yes, she was attractive, but more importantly, I could tell from her smile she was a kind and gentle person. Without hesitation, I walked around the counter and said, “Would you like to have dinner?”
“That would be lovely,” Greta replied.
We’ve been together since. In fact, on the second Thursday of each month, when we have our age 50-plus singles meet and greet gatherings at Tutor and Spunky’s, Greta is the main greeter (the next gathering is Thursday, December 13).
Besides Trent’s statement about the grass not always being greener, I’d like to add one other lesson from today’s column: adversity often leads to opportunity. For me, my wife’s departure opened the door to becoming a columnist and it also brought Greta into my life. And for those things I am most grateful, particularly during this Thanksgiving time.
I suspect Trent will have a similar result with the new woman he’s met.
Tom Blake is a San Clemente resident and Dana Point business owner who has authored three books on middle-aged dating. For dating information: www.FindingLoveAfter50.com. To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet and Greet location: www.TutorandSpunkys.com