Robert Blocksom had a difficult decision to make. The 87-year-old wife’s, Jelaine, was sick, and the pair needed cash to cover her rising medical costs. As a result, Robert did something that perhaps no one would expect a retiree of his age to do.
Prior to retirement, however, Robert had spent his career as a financial planner, advising others on how to smartly save their funds. He and his wife had made an investment of their own, too, by buying a home in Middleburg Heights, Ohio.
And it was in Ohio that the pair had spent some of their 60 years of marriage together. Yet even after all that time, Jelaine found it hard to narrow down what she loves most about her husband. “I can’t begin to tell you all that,” she said to People in August 2018.
Nevertheless, while speaking to People, Jelaine did her best to sum Robert up. She continued, “I still love him as much as I did in the beginning. He’s a very good man – very honest, faithful [and] loyal. All the good things you like in a man.”
And Robert would prove his wife’s testament to his character to be true when she started to get sick. Jelaine, also 87, described her multiple medical diagnoses to People, saying, “I got a little bit of everything. But mostly I can’t walk very well, and I’ve had some breast cancer.”
On top of that, Jelaine disclosed that she had not long been told that she had yet another condition. She explained, “I’ve just been diagnosed with asthma, so I’m having problems breathing. I was in the hospital twice last month. So, it seems just about everything is falling off.”
At first, though, the couple found ways to cover the expenses required to take care of Jelaine. They sold their home and moved into an apartment, for instance. And on the bright side, the new space allowed Robert’s wife to move around more freely than in their Middleburg Heights property.
However, Robert also had to sell their mobile trailer and some other items to make ends meet. Then, with nothing left to let go, the devoted husband realized that he would have to do something unexpected to raise the funds he and his wife needed.
In particular, Robert knew that he was going to have to come out of retirement so that he could bring home an income again and cover the bills. And he knew precisely how he’d make his money, too – although the choice was maybe an unlikely one for an octogenarian.
Perhaps surprisingly, Robert hoped to become a truck driver. In August 2018 the senior explained to Ohio-based ABC affiliate WEWS-TV, “I’ve always liked driving, so I figured that I’d like to be able to make some money driving. That would be the best way to do it.”
And when Robert had initially floated the idea of going back to work, he had found one trucking company “desperate” for employees, as he told The Washington Post in June 2018. However, even after the firm had offered to pay $50,000 a year, the retiree wasn’t ready to accept the offer.
That’s because the job would require spending a whole year on the road, with Robert potentially navigating the country behind the wheel of a truck. And, upon reflection, Robert realized that the proposed setup wouldn’t work for him and Jelaine.
For one, Robert felt that he couldn’t spend much time apart from his ailing wife. And the schedule was seemingly too intense for him, too. “The more I think about it, it would be tough to be on the road Monday through Friday,” the Ohio man admitted to The Washington Post.
By the end of August 2018, though, Robert had revisited the idea and decided to go for it. The following month, then, he planned to begin classes to earn his commercial driver’s license. However, the elderly man told People that he’d find a job with only local routes and weekend hours so he could be by Jelaine’s side as often as possible.
And while Jelaine has admitted that she wasn’t all that thrilled with the idea of her husband going back to work, she has also acknowledged the need for a source of income. After all, the pair had “really expensive” medical fees to pay off, she told People.
Jelaine continued to the magazine, “I would hope he wouldn’t have to [take a new job], but he sees that as a way out.” She added, “It’s difficult, sure, but it’s harder on him because he takes care of me and the house. All I can do is make meals for him.”
And although the Blocksoms’ story may have seemed out of the ordinary at the time that it came to light, it turned out that it was representative of a growing trend among seniors who are heading back to work. According to a June 2018 article by The Washington Post, many people aged 85 or older are still working as truckers; they are also prevalent in other occupations such as accounting and farming.
Fortunately for Robert, one possible, final solution to his financial woes arose unexpectedly. When his and Jelaine’s story went public, a Canadian woman named Alexandra Tune saw their plight and felt as though she should do something to aid the couple.
In August 2018 Tune told WEWS-TV, “I just felt this overwhelming need and desire to help Bob.” So, she started a GoFundMe page in his honor, hoping to raise $10,000 to pay down some of his expenses. Overnight, however, the page brought in $12,000.
And by late September 2018, the scheme had raised more than $27,000 for the Blocksoms – a total that astonished Robert. He spoke to Tune via FaceTime and said, “This is the first time something like this has ever happened to me. It’s sure going to help a lot, and we appreciate it.”