Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Working Together is Success

"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." - Henry Ford

On 5/5/11, I turned 65. My husband, David, is 67. We've been married for 43 years, since April 9, 1968. On May 1, I became eligible for Medicare + Medicare Advantage (via Secure Horizons). We have both already started taking Social Security, because two years ago, in May of 2009, David lost the best job he had ever had. Back then, he was working full time as a tech writer for Quark, Inc. Once that job ended, he never succeeded in finding another full time job. After a while, he stopped looking for one.

If all this makes us sound like a couple of late middle-aged folks who have more or less given up on working and who have decided to resign ourselves to stagnation, let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, we realized a while back that we have now entered what feels like the happiest time of our lives together. It's surely one of the most productive.

Over his working lifetime, David was employed as a math teacher, an aerospace engineer, a tech writer, and a computer programmer -- or developer, as they say these days. He is also the author of 20 books, mainly in the genres of science fiction and horror, including three Star Trek novels, as well as numerous essays and articles, most of which you can read on his website, www.dvorkin.com. Nowadays, he is mainly writing here at home, as well as accepting short tech writing or programming jobs that he can do via telecommuting.

I'm still working at all the things I have ever done for pay and have no plans to retire anytime soon, if ever. I tutor four languages (Spanish, German, English, and a little French), teach three weight training classes a week, translate (mainly from German to English), write books and articles, and do proofreading and editing for other authors. To my happy surprise, every aspect of my business has seen an upturn over the last year or two. Lately, I have been getting some very gratifying phone calls and e-mails from former students who want to get back in touch with me, either for lessons or just to say hello. I am as busy as I could ever want to be, and love every bit of my work.

And just what is making David and me so happy these days? Mainly, it's being here at home together almost all the time. We are almost uncannily alike in our living habits, our opinions, our likes, and our dislikes, so we very seldom have a conflict of any sort. And even though we are physically apart during much of the day, either while I teach or while we are seated at our separate computers in our separate studies on different floors of the house, we always have a wonderful sense of being here at home together, able to talk to each other at any time. Sometimes we e-mail each other. And for the first time in our lives, we have a joint writing project that we are working on.

I love David, support him wholeheartedly in his writing endeavors, do my just share of the housework, and help to earn our shared money. Other than that, I'm not sure how much of a help I am to him, but I know that I could not do a great deal of my own work without his amazingly patient help. I am a very un-technical person, and I could never have learned what little I know about the use of a computer without David's instruction. The fact that we both have websites is entirely due to his technical skill, and ditto for the publication of so many of our books in e-book format via Smashwords and Amazon.

In addition to all that, David has always done at least 50% of the housework. (He was also always a wonderfully loving and attentive father to our only son, Daniel, now 42.) On a regular basis, David does all the grocery shopping, runs most errands, takes out the trash, waters the lawn in summer, shovels snow in the winter, prepares our breakfasts and lunches, pays all the bills, helps with the preparation and clean-up for the monthly Spanish group meetings that I host, irons any clothes that require that, and frequently washes the dishes. (We do not have a dishwasher.) He also packs suitcases better than I do and does all the driving when we take road trips.

David is also in amazing shape for a man of 67, and in fact is in much better shape than the average American man of any age. That's due mainly to his over four decades of regular weight training plus walking. We have a new Schwinn exercise bike that we love. I also lift weights, walk, and use the exercise bike, and I like our home treadmill, too. Weight training remains the favorite form of exercise for both of us. David was the one who got me started on all that, way back before we were married, about 45 years ago, long before weight training was common in America for either men or women. His robust good health at this relatively late stage of his life is tremendously reassuring to me. Given that his father is still alive at 102, we have every hope that David will live to a very old age indeed.

After some serious health problems in years past, including breast cancer (see my book Another Chance at Life: A Breast Cancer Survivor's Journey), I am now feeling healthier and more vigorous than I have in a very long time.
I teach three weight training classes a week in our basement and exercise about eight or nine hours per week in all. I could still stand to lose some weight, but I have plenty of energy for my work. My most recent round of medical exams revealed improvements in many areas, which is tremendously encouraging.

Are our lives perfect? No. Whose life is? But to our pleased amazement, we both find that now, in our mid- to late 60s, we are happier and more optimistic than we ever were before. Two years ago, when David lost his job at Quark and we were plunged into an initial period of deep worry, we could never have imagined that we would one day look back at that lay-off and deem it one of the best things that had ever happened to David -- and to us as a couple.

We know that we are much more fortunate than many others in our age group. Our health is more than good. Our house and cars were all paid off several years ago. We have no children or elderly parents whom we need to support. We have Social Security and Medicare as well as continuing incomes.

At the same time, we are working very hard, together and separately, to keep on improving ourselves and our circumstances and to help others as much as we can. I find that I love editing, as well as teaching, and David and I are now helping other authors get published in both e-book and print formats.

Thus we are doing far more than just "keeping on." We are keeping on moving outward and upward -- together, always together.

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