Yahoo is publishing first-person perspectives from Americans 65 or older who have returned to the workforce after retiring or who have picked up a second job to bolster their income. These personal stories come on the heels of an Associated Press poll that says 82 percent of workers 50 and older say it’s at least somewhat likely they will work during their retirement years. Forty-seven percent, meanwhile, said they’ll retire later than planned. Here’s one account.
FIRST PERSON | Even in my early 50s, I had no interest or thought of retiring. Now in my late 70s, even if I wanted to, it is far from possible.
Just before the crash came in 2007 and 2008, my wife, Dorothy, and I were in good financial shape thanks to my inheritance. We had invested in Schwab stocks, but were making little return. So just before the crash we removed our money and invested in a real estate development. The crash came and our $300,000 investment money flew out the window.
Prior to this, Dorothy had a stroke in October 2000 and was paralyzed on the left side. She lost her Electrolysis business of 30 years and my whole personal life vanished instantly as I became an enforced full-time caregiver. My professional life was as an architect since the late ’50s, and I had been fortunate to have made a good living for all those years. Within months of the crash, my architectural business disappeared, as construction came to a crashing halt.
My wife and I had just moved to Boerne, Texas, from San Antonio in late 2007 and we were stuck with house payments, bills and no business. I had no builders, since there was no building and our nest egg had been stolen.
I have a personal philosophy, not religious, that nothing happens accidentally and all I have to do is keep going and events will take care of me. Call it stupid, maybe, but it happens like that and it did. In 2005 I had bought a small airplane and had been keeping it at the Boerne Stage Airfield. Later I had to sell it to stay alive. While I was there, I met other aircraft owners who wanted to build what is known as Hangar Homes. Soon I was designing these projects enough to begin making a living. Then other infrequent jobs, both commercial and residential, began to come my way.
All during this time I have been an unpaid full-time caretaker to Dorothy. I was doing the housework, shopping and numerous chores plus taking her to therapy and doctors appointments, while trying to make a living for us, which has lately taken me out of the house several time a week, for short periods. When I do Architectural drawings it is in my office at home which allows me to watch over Dorothy. We combine together to prepare our meals for the week. Because of Dorothy’s stroke, there was no way I could obtain a part-time job away from home — for Dorothy was my part-time job. She is not a burden she is a light that guides my determination to fulfill our marriage vows.
To be exact Dorothy had actually lost the feeling on her left side. With no feeling she could not accomplish the simplest of tasks. This is not a world for one-handed people. Dorothy, could not bath, could not feed herself or even open a soda bottle top with only one hand. The time of a care-giving is not based on just hours in the day it’s based on the necessity of being available to help in preventing depression that haunts the stroke survivor who must cope hour by hour, day after day with the frustration that they have lost all the functions and activities of their previous life.
In 2012 we obtained a reverse mortgage, which relieved us of house payments. I am presently getting enough architectural jobs and construction jobs to make ends meet and am making contacts constantly to insure future business. Presently we mainly live off of my $812 and Dorothy’s $1,300 disability social security monthly and somewhere around five to ten thousand yearly from my Architectural business however this does not seem enough to cover all our expenses since the dollar is losing less and less of its value. My life plan is very simple now. At 78 years, I will work until I die. I must, to ensure that Dorothy will have enough money when I pass away. The fortunate situation is, even after some 50 years, I still love architecture; it gives me a chance to help people realize their dreams and besides I’m good at it. Why should I quit, as long as I can work it keeps me young and active.
As I stated earlier I had always made a comfortable living from my Architectural practice. Never in my wildest imagination did I think it would come to such an abrupt halt as it did in 2008. Was I surprised that it did – not one bit for you see for the last 50 years of my life I have been studying and writing about ancient history. What has taken place in this country is not a surprise to a student of history. When the first TARP bill was passed at the end of the Bush administration I read all 400 pages out of curiosity. It was obvious that no one in Congress read it for not a single safeguard was followed or did they carry out the precepts of the bill. Does that tell you what has followed.
Regardless, all one has to do is read Roman history to see that we continue to follow the same mistakes that have prevailed for thousands of years. What is taking place presently is not: “a sign of the times, a new America or a fault of the system. IT IS, a repeat of history which reveals the weakness and corruption that follows humans like a plague. As for me I will go on working and do what I have to take care of my sweetie, until my last breath.