What’s a second act? As I said in a previous article, it’s the ability to reinvent oneself. Some people do something that they’re really good at. Or sometimes, a second act involves doing something that one always wanted to do. For the most part, it usually happens later in life. But it doesn’t have to.
And almost always, it’s planned. But it doesn’t have to be. And usually, it’s work-related, but it doesn’t have to be as well.
Life caused me to quickly establish a second act. Sometimes life does that. I wasn’t planning on a second act. I’m retired— so I wasn’t planning on working again. And life was going pretty well. Financially and otherwise. I wasn’t looking to create a second act. But I found myself involved in one very quickly. And I didn’t have a choice, but to go through with it.
I’ve realized three things when it comes to “life”:
- Life is too short. Live for today. Don’t wait to do something. You may not get another opportunity.
- Life can change on a dime. Life changes very quickly— sometimes with no warning.
- Do what makes you happy. Don’t worry about what others think. Hopefully, they’ll come along for the ride.
Reassessing What Happened
My wife died in December 2020. I previously wrote an article about her for The Happy PharmD. We were married for 38 ½ years.
Life was good before she died. I had retired. My wife and I owned a two-bedroom apartment. We were three blocks from my daughter and the grandkids. Between my Temple, friends, volunteering, and writing for The Happy PharmD, I had enough to keep me busy. I wasn’t looking for a Second Act. But it found me!
As I said, my wife died in December 2020. She didn’t die from COVID. But the world was in the middle of the pandemic. Everyone wore masks and tried to keep their distance. No one ventured out during the day, except to go food shopping. And everything was conducted on Zoom.
My wife’s funeral was held in December 2020. I realized something after my wife died. When a person’s spouse dies, after the funeral, the remaining spouse’s life changes dramatically. This is not true for anyone else who attends the funeral. Only for the remaining spouse whose life will forever be different.
Consider my daughter. She lost her mother. Yet when she went home after the funeral, everything was pretty much the same. She still had her husband, the kiddies, and her job. And her daily routine hadn’t changed that much.
It was different for me. When I went home, after the funeral, life was different. My second act was starting. Whether I wanted it to or not.
I went home and it was the “Danny” show. There was no one to greet me inside my apartment. No one to talk to. No one to eat supper with. No one to exchange stories with. When I woke up at night, there was no one in bed with me. And the next morning, I was still all by myself.
But it didn’t stop there. Little things were not getting done. That’s because Roz was always the one to do them. But she wasn’t there. And I wasn’t doing them. Thus, no one made a shopping list of what to buy at the supermarket. And no one made a donation to our Temple’s Chanukah Fund. And no one made sure to have clean sheets put on the bed at the end of the week.
My spouse wasn’t there to do these things. Life would be different from now on.
Furthermore, this was not a temporary thing. Roz was not gone for a few weeks and then she’d be back. Then everything would return to the way it was. She was not coming back. My second act had started.
I enjoyed reading. One of my favorite authors had a character that he wrote about in his books. The character was an FBI agent, whose wife and daughter were murdered. They never caught the murderer.
In all of his books, the author always had a flashback chapter, where the character talked about his wife and daughter. In one book, the character (and I’m paraphrasing) stated that “I [the character] can live in the past or can live in the present. But I can’t do both. And I can’t live in the past.”
I loved my wife. But I can’t live in the past either. I had to move on with my life.
Changing My Life
I had a wonderful support system. The guys in my Temple’s Men’s Club were always there to talk to either in person or by phone. In addition, I had four friends, who were married and lost their spouses. Each of them met someone. Two of them had remarried, while the other two had met companions and were with them for several years. It’s nice that they were able to move on with their lives.
After talking to my friends, I realized that no one wants this second act, but since it was thrust upon me, I’m going to take the upper hand. I’m going to call the shots. I’m going to do what’s best for me and what makes me happy, rather than just sitting back and waiting for things to happen.
I was attending online bereavement sessions. The world was in the middle of the pandemic. Thus, everything was on Zoom. I had signed up for five or six sessions. I was averaging between 16 to 18 hours of Zoom bereavement sessions each week.
At first, the sessions were helpful. It was comforting to hear from others who had lost their spouse. Some people had lost their spouse a couple weeks ago, some lost their spouse a few months ago, and some lost their spouse a few years ago. I know the mourning period affects everyone differently, but (to me) two years or more was a long time to be attending bereavement sessions.
In fact, five weeks was a long time to be attending bereavement sessions. I loved my wife. But after five weeks of listening to people talk about their dead spouse, and how it halted their lives— I had had it. It was time to move on. What’s the cute phrase from The Producers? “Stop the world. I want to get on!” I didn’t want bereavement sessions to define my life. I was taking charge of my second act.
My second act involved four parts. It came together in February 2021.
- I was going to stop going to bereavement sessions. They weren’t helpful anymore. And I couldn’t see going to them for the next several years like some people were. I quit cold turkey— I just stopped going to them.
- I wanted to start writing again. I wrote monthly articles for The Happy PharmD. When Roz died, I stopped. And I wanted to start up again in February 2021. I was pleased that Alex Barker allowed me to start submitting articles again.
- I had hosted a daily trivia game for my Men’s Club members. I suspended the game in December when Roz went into the hospital. I called the Men’s Club President and asked if I could start up again in February 2021. He said yes.
- I called one of my friends who lost his wife several years ago. She and Roz went to college together more than forty years ago. His wife died about seven years ago. He had been with a companion for the past five years.
I asked him where to meet someone. I was never a bar person. And unfortunately, the pandemic eliminated in person parties, social events, and meetings. He suggested a website called “Our Time” where he met the woman that he was currently with. I immediately was sorry that I asked the question. I just wasn’t ready. And I quickly changed my mind. He said that I could go onto the website and just look. I didn’t have to commit or pay anything until I was ready.
I took the information about the website but didn’t do anything with it. However, several days later, I decided to go on to the website. I entered my name, email, and my birthdate. The website then took me to the money page. I don’t remember the prices exactly but they cost about $60 for 1 month, $100 for 2 months, $ 250 for 6 months and so on.
I wasn’t ready to pay anything yet. I was just looking. Therefore:
- My profile was quite limited. When a person pays for the service, they are allowed to create a full-page profile that hopefully others will find attractive. But I hadn’t paid. Thus, my profile was limited to 200-characters, which is about 1 ½ sentences. It’s tough to entice people with only 1 ½ sentences. I was permitted to add a photograph though.
- I was unable to contact anyone who might seem appealing to me. Contacting others was only available to the paying customers. Therefore, I was not able to email, boost, like, text, message, or get phone numbers. The phrase “look….but don’t touch” came into my mind.
I had seen enough. Meeting someone online was not for me. I left the website. The next day, I received an email from CindyPost. It read, “The feeling is mutual.”
I wondered what she was responding to. I had alluded to the fact that I wasn’t a Trumpster in my limited profile. On the other hand, this baffled me. I hadn’t really looked at anyone’s profile. I couldn’t even contact anyone even if I wanted to. And yet, CindyPost was sending me a message.
I signed onto Our Time and searched for CindyPost. She looked like an attractive woman in her photo. I tried to message her, boost her, like her, or try to get a phone number or email. And every time the website took me to the money page and requested payment. I had had it. I exited the website.
The next morning I received another email from CindyPost. Again it said, “The feeling is mutual.” I returned to Our Time. I searched for CindyPost. I read her profile.
CindyPost was a 66-year-old woman (I was 67). She lived in Rahway, NJ— I lived in Highland Park, NJ (not that far). She was a widow, I was a widower. She had her Master’s, and so did I. She was Jewish and very involved in her Temple (Me too). I had to meet this woman.
But I can’t. Because I don’t want to pay. So I couldn’t email, text, call or contact her. She must think that I’m the biggest snob around. She keeps sending me emails, and I was ignoring her. (But I’m not!)
I was never into Facebook. I don’t post, message people or events, or even look at my Facebook account. But I do have one. My school made all the instructors get a Facebook account when I was teaching. That way I could keep in touch with my students.
Many people have a Facebook account. Maybe CindyPost has one. I typed in Cindy (Cynthia) then P-O-S-T and her account came up. Her profile picture on Facebook matched her Our Time picture. So I found CindyPost.
I wasn’t too familiar with how to message her on Facebook, but I did notice that she was finishing her term as Sisterhood president for her temple. It listed the temple by name. So I decided to call her temple. Crazy, right? I dialed and a woman answered the phone.
I said, “ Hi, I’m Daniel Shifrin. I’m a member of the Highland Park Conservative Temple in Highland Park, NJ. I’m a trustee on their board. And also the Membership Vice-president for the Men’s Club. I’m trying to get in touch with a woman who I saw on a website called Our Time. She’s one of your members. I know you’re not going to give me her personal info. But if I give you my phone number and email, can you call her and tell her to contact me?”
The woman on the phone answered, “ Sure”. And she took my name, phone number, and email.
“Does this sound crazy?” I asked.
The woman laughed and replied, “No harm, no foul.”
CindyPost contacted me through Facebook— I figured out how to get and send a message. She also told me that she never emailed me “The feeling is mutual” or any other email for that matter. Perhaps Our Time sends out emails to try to generate interest and potential payments.
We exchanged emails and eventually talked on the phone. That was February 2021. It’s now April 2022. We’ve been together ever since. CindyPost and I moved into our own place in January 2022.
Developing A Second Life
Obviously, a second act doesn’t have to be work-related. Just be ready for it when it appears. And always take charge of the second act, rather than wait for things to happen.
Sometimes a second act is the best thing to ever happen in a person’s life.
Daniel Shifrin, R.P., M.S. is a recently retired pharmacist who enjoys sharing his insights about hospital pharmacy. He is proud to own one of the largest collections of Pharmacy Stamp First Day Covers.