Michael and Kitty Dukakis

updated 11/28/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/28/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

HE still rides the streetcar to work, power-walks every morning along the Muddy River with his wife, and putters with tomato plants in his modest Brookline, Mass., backyard. He is also still knee-deep in politics, though these days, Michael Dukakis's arena is the classroom—as a full-time professor of political science at Northeastern University.

In the wake of his bruising loss to George Bush in the presidential race of 1988, Dukakis, now 61, had a lot of time to reflect. "I don't like losing, and it was very disappointing," he says. "It's partly a feeling that you've let a lot of people down." To add to his discomfort, Dukakis's return to the final two years of his Massachusetts governorship came at a particularly unpropitious time. "The bottom dropped out of the northeastern economy," he recalls, "and here's Dukakis—the great miracle-of-Massachusetts guy—and he's trying to figure out what's going on. It was very difficult."

Not just for him. In November 1989—two years after his wife, Kitty, had revealed a lifetime of dependence on diet pills and nine months after the first public disclosure of her alcoholism—came word that Kitty had been rushed to a Boston hospital after swallowing a small amount of rubbing alcohol. After two stints in rehab, during which she was also treated for depression, Kitty, now 57, toured the country promoting her autobiography Now You Know. In 1993 she began work on a master's in social work at Boston University, the first step toward her goal of becoming a family counselor. Says Kitty, whose children, John, 36, from her first marriage, Andrea, 29, and Kara, 26, are all on their own: "I enjoy being a student. I take it a day at a time. My sobriety remains the most important thing in my life, and Mike is very supportive of that."

He is committed too, he says, to remaining active in public service, even if he never again runs for office. "Public life is my life," he says. "I enjoy it immensely, and I don't think I could ever stay out of it completely." His wife has a different view. "I like the choices I have today," says Kitty. "We're both adjusters. We adjust to the changes. But I think there is a period where every politician misses it—and every politician's wife doesn't."

From Our Partners