Author Archives: Sandra Pesmen

Widowslist rates AMC Theatres: ‘Best’

If you like to go to the movies (and show me a widow who doesn’t) , you’ll appreciate AMC theatres that offer regular treats for all of us,

Currently, my local AMC theatre in Northbrook Court, in Northbrook  ,Il, offers $5 tickets to everyone all day Tuesdays. This will go on through October for plain folks, but if you invest in an Insider membership for $16, you are eligible for that bargain all year.

Your local AMC theatre may not offer this particular “come on” , but all have special promotions throughout the year for special groups, such as seniors, etc.

One other treat is the seats that you choose when you buy your ticket either on line or in person, because, those leather-like seats are the most comfortable we’ve found anywhere. They slide back with the touch of a button, sending your headrest down and your footrest up . Then you pull over the side tray to hold purse or popcorn.

This theatre group is certainly trying hard–and as far as I’m concerned–it’s succeeding.


Fill Emptiness-Join Senior Center, Library

Regardless of how busy we try to stay, going to movies, reading books, keeping dates with friends and family–there always are moments when you feel lonely.

I often tell people, ” I’m not alone—I”M here.” But sometimes even that isn’t enough and you crave more stimulation for your brain, which usually can only come from being with others.

In such a mood, I recently decided to throw ice cubes on my brain and began with a trip to my library. Picking up a copy of the month’s calendar, I circled a current events meeting, and a Classic Films showing of “On the Waterfront, ” and oh, how wonderful that was! I also plan to drop in to hear a Sunday afternoon concert .

Next I drove to the North Shore Senior Center in Northfield, IL, founded by market research legend A.C. Nielsen, and I joined for $70.That allowed me discount admission to all activities, particularly its LifeLong Learning Programs. These are top notch lectures on art, science current events, and also films and dramatic programs.

Best of all, it offers day trips, including one to Chicago’s loop by bus with the group to see Hamilton, something I’ve been planning to do since reading Hamilton, the book, and listening to the CD Hamilton over and over while studying the lyrics.

I had to get up at 6:30 a.m. to get in line for that ticket but am glad I did.

With “ice cubes on my brain” again, I’m back among the living.

I learned we can’t waste a moment of the precious days left to us.


“Elder Orphan?” Who? Me?

I  tuned in to National Public Radio while driving to the supermarket yesterday and heard Carol Marak, spokesperson and advocate for Aging, Alone, discussing “Elder Orphans.”

“What’s that?” I thought. Having been orphaned myself at an early age, I paid attention.

But this wasn’t about growing up without parents. Marak, who is single with no children, was explaining she had taken care of her parents through their old age and illness until death. Then she realized that when it’s her turn to go through that, there won’t be any one to give her that loving care.

She emphasized that she, and many people she interviewed, did not regret being childless, but did have the same qualms. So she decided to find a solution.

Her answer was to create an online community for adults aging alone–that anyone can join by Googling: Elder Orphans Facebook Group.

There are fascinating, active chat lines, with problems and answers such as the following dialog:

Comment: “Just recently, I moved from suburbia into a highly urban area, where there is a metro, you know, transportation, buses, public transit. I’m also very healthy fortunately, but I do walk. I run my errands via foot, so I kind of kill two birds with one stone there, stay fit and run errands. And I live in a high-rise, because I want to surround myself with other people. I don’t want to live in a home, isolated. So, we have to think about those things, how we plan for aging alone.”

A.” I would suggest, first off, just reaching out to the local area agencies on aging. Then, I would also reach out to senior centers. Just go where seniors hang out.”

When asked how to stay in the family home after every else is gone, and it feels lonely as wells being difficult financially, Marak pointed out some solutions, such as renting a room to another Elder Orphan, or possibly turning it into a “group home.”

Marak also put forth the unique concept of adopting a family.

She noted, “Well, I mean, think about it. How many families are maybe without an older individual, or maybe they’ve lost their parents or they’ve lost their grandmother? Of course, it requires a lot of forethought, and even some help with legal matters, but I think it’s an option.”

In return for becoming part of a family, she added, the Elder Orphan can consider legally naming the family members heirs to whatever estate he or she leaves.

Other issues considered on the site include ways to stay fit and eat healthy foods, things too many people living alone stop doing. Discussions also include ways to reach out to the community by giving volunteer help to others.

On that Facebook Group page, people mostly share what they are feeling each day.

“We discuss transportation options, emotional things that might be affecting us, how are we feeling about not having children — although most of us are grateful to not have children, because we have members who have been really estranged from their families, which is hard,” Marak added.

“So, it’s just a great place to come and feel accepted, and find friendship and connection. What’s so wonderful is that when you start a discussion, you’re always going to have someone participate. And you can also pull it offline if you wish, and private message someone, and then take it from there. Many of us are breaking off and starting our own face-to-face groups, which is really, I think, the next step for all of us.”

And that’s when I arrived at the market, and went in to buy a small quart of milk instead of the less expensive half gallon I can’t finish–because I live alone!

Whaaaat? Whoooooo?

You know you’re getting old when you pick up a  copy of People magazine and see that David Cassidy is fighting dementia—-and you don’t even recognize  anyone else.

Signing Out with Style

We all spend a lot of time contemplating, then planning for, our departure. It goes with the territory, especially after you’ve done that for your mate.

We try and put our paperwork in order, check our wills, and do our best to let our kids know how we would like them to distribute our treasures “when I’m through with them.”

But one of my Chicago-area friends began what I hope will become a new trend.

When Marilyn Drucker’s husband Leonard died, she drew on her famous wit as well as her love, and had his headstone in Sholom Cemetery in Arlington Heights IL,  read: “Leonard Drucker, Family Man, Gone Golfing.”

And when Marilyn died one year ago today, July 19, 2016 ,and her family was faced with the same headstone question, they followed her lead.

“My mom had a sense of humor for my dad, so we thought we should have a sense of humor for her,” recalls her daughter Denise Drucker Blinick,

As a result, Marilyn’s headstone reads, “Gone Shopping.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if all our kids remembered us with a sense of humor?


86–And: Still Writing Steamy Sex Novels

Curious researchers are beginning to affirm that some seniors still enjoy sex.

And those who work among seniors in assisted living residences report that the few men there (who usually have their choice of many widows) will often develop a romantic alliance, gallantly escort  her away from the bingo table, and lead her to his apartment for an evening of pleasure.

No one asks what goes on behind those closed doors, nor should they.

But my dear lifetime friend, Charmaine Gordon, now 86, can tell you all about it–and she does in the 25 romantic novels she’s been writing since she was 78.

Charmaine developed her own reader  niche: senior widows like herself who are still attractive and active, and find new romance when and where they never expected to. And lo and behold, either from experience or imagination, Charmaine treats those loyal readers to very steamy sex scenes in every book.

In fact, she just completed her 25th, “Beware the Blue Eyed Thunderbolt,” about a gorgeous, recently widowed business woman in her 60s, who meets an unbelievably handsome doctor ten years younger in the veterinarian’s office, and mad, passionate love ensues. Our heroine can’t resist our hero’s gorgeous manliness –and he can’t resist her unbelievable beauty, long golden curls and phenomenal body. Of course they both have blue eyes, ergo the title.

But hey, this isn’t Charmaine’s first rodeo, as Dr. Phil might say. Some of her other titles in this same new “senior steamy romance lit” genre include: “When Doubles Become Singles”, “Charlie’s Family Secret,” “She Didn’t Say No”….and many more.

Check them out at, and buy one. We guarantee a fun read.



Airport Electric Cart Gets You There in Time

Wheelchairs aren’t the only help offered to travelers in the airports.

I was rushing across two huge terminals lugging a heavy carry -on bag and a purse, and feared I’d never make my next flight in time.

Flight #1 had been late, leaving me 10 minutes instead of an hour to make this impossible transfer. Huffing, puffing, and in panic, Iran on.

Suddenly I heard a beep and turned to see an airport electric cart pulling up beside me. “Hop in” the driver said, and as he checked my gate number on his computer, he assured me we’d not only arrive on time, but I could  even use the ladies room before boarding.

I asked what that cost and he assured me the carts  are a free airport service, but  gratuities are accepted–which I gladly gave him.

Some airports don’t provide the carts yet, but you should always ask any airport employee if they do, and if so, ask them to call one for you. It’s also wise to ask you flight attendant to call one to meet  you at the gate if you have to change planes.

The downside of the carts is some go too fast and have been known to hit pedestrians, but airports are working on that.

Although I had plenty of time to change planes on my return trip, I called for a cart when I got off Plane #1 anyway, and I was able to enjoy a restful lunch before reboarding.



What’s Proper Wedding $$$ Gift?

It’s been ten years since I was part of a couple, one that lasted a happy 55 years.

But after my my husband died, I learned to “go it alone” to social and family events. It may have been easier for me because, as a journalist, I had gone alone to cover events in all kinds of places. So I have never, and still don’t feel self conscious when I appear without an escort anywhere.

(As I often say, “I’m not lonely. I”M there.”)

And since I was employed and independent most of my adult life, my survival in widowhood may have been easier than some others’.

But there always are questions to consider and answer. Take a distant relative’s recent wedding:

  1. Do I stay overnight with the group in a downtown hotel because I live in a suburb?

2. How much should a widow give as a gift when she attends alone?

Fortunately, if one can afford it, both are easily answered spot.

It was far less expensive to hire a  driver to take me home after the event than it would have been to say overnight downtown. Also, I had the advantage of being in my own bed, not having to bring a bag with night clothes, etc. to the party.

I checked the Internet to answer the money question and, since I had already sent a shower gift, the suggested amount for a person attending alone these days seems to be $75-$100 if he or she can afford that. ($150 will do if you bring a guest.)

That’s certainly changed since my wedding when we were thrilled to receive a silver-plated butter dish, hoping we would someday  be able to buy butter instead of oleo to put in it.



Grief: That heavy stone in your heart

They were more deeply in love than most couples are after 35 years of marriage, so it was even more tragic when the husband died of cancer three years ago.

His widow, only 60 at the time, was fortunate in that she had two loving grown children, a professional career and sufficient income to live comfortably.

But widows face many issues, especially if they are young and still in their “active, social” years. Life, as she had known it, stopped abruptly.

Friends, family and colleagues were considerate and tried to help her feel life is worth living.

She gamely attended a recent family wedding and seemed to enjoy the ceremony and cocktail hour, but as the reception got underway she felt more and more alone. She missed her husband even more sitting among family members and friends who all were in couples.

After salad had been served, she rose abruptly and said, “I’m done. I must go home.” And all at the table felt her sorrow.

Coincidentally, this week The Dr. Phil Show repeated a program focused on a 60-year-old widow with two grown children and a successful career, who was having trouble returning to a normal social life.

Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, chief medical advisor for Pfizer, was also featured and she gave this advice:

  1. Social Isolation (such as that experienced by many widows) is an addiction, as serious as any other, like alcohol, drugs, or obesity. It deserves to be treated as such.
  2.  This emotional paralysis caused by reminders of life with your husband may cause anxiety, depression, and especially fear. The greatest being falling in love again and losing that person too.
  3. Both this counselor and Dr. Phil emphasized that the length of time you grieve is no indication of how much you loved the deceased.
  4. The advice wasn’t unusual. It included getting back into civic and religious organizations and doing volunteer work. But also stressed the need for therapy, where talking about your feelings gives the most relief.

As one of our readers has remarked, “It’s like carrying a heavy stone in your heart. In time it gets lighter, but it’s never gone.”

And most of us don’t want or expect it to be.



There in spirit

Sunday ranks as one of the most splendid days in our family’s history, when our first grandchild, and only granddaughter, Sara Preis married Wayne Brin in a spectacular ceremony.

But, of course, for this widow, it was bittersweet. Sara’s birth father died tragically when she was three, and, though she was adopted by a devoted step-father soon afterward, her grandfathers also stepped in to  help fill that void and probably became closer to her than is ordinary.

“Papa George,” her father’s father, was at the wedding, and paid tribute to “Papa Hal,” my husband, who was not.

Everyone in our family had many moments during the memorable and festive weekend when we felt the pain and sorrow of his loss. We wished he was with us on this so special day. It helped that Sara arranged a special table at the reception with photos of beloved family members who were gone. And it included one of our handsome Papa Hal, holding his beloved, 4-year-old Sara in his arms.

Today, looking with joy at photos of all our children, grandchildren, dearest cousins and friends who were with us, I  thought about whether I want to go the rest of the way seeing such glasses “half full or half empty.”

I chose half full because I’m so grateful to have this family and know that as long as some of us are together, Hal will be with us in spirit as he was Sunday.