Seventeen year old Dot Waterhouse met Chris at orientation on her first day of university. He persuaded her to go waterskiing, then took her home to meet his grandfather for dinner.
“I wasn’t looking for anything, I was really hoping to have a bit of fun for a while, “ she says. But they were meant to be.
“The other day, I found all our letters to each other. We were a bit of hot stuff, I have to say!” she laughs, then turns to Chris, “How long have we been together now?”
“That will be fifty years next February,” he replies.
“He’s the mathematician,” she jokes.
Their secret to a long relationship started right at the beginning. Even as teenagers when they married, they chose to embody non-stereotypical gender roles. Dot worked for a while to put Chris through university and they shared parenting and household tasks. This, they tell us, enabled them to grow together rather than apart.
“We haven’t always agreed but our lives have agreed. Even though we’ve changed hugely over the years, we haven’t changed away from each other,” says Dot.
Chris was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease two years ago which affects his speech and facial expressions. Grappling with the changes to their lifestyle, they joined a Dance for PD class, a programme offering specialised dance classes to people with Parkinson’s, their families and care partners.
For them it’s an escape; a moment to revel in the music and dancing, shifting their focus from the debilitative aspects of the disease.
The couple came to the Opera House in June 2019 for an accessible Dance for PD workshop held in the Utzon Room as part of Vivid LIVE, followed by a lunch date at Portside.
“Today was special because we’re doing it together, we’re performing,” says Dot as she smiles. “While we’re very mobile, a lot of our friends in the group aren’t, and yet they were able to go as well. It’s marvelous that the Opera House has been able to make events like this accessible.”