Friends bond in grief over husbands' Alzheimer's battles

Posted at 5:55 PM, Dec 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-13 09:14:46-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — Tuckie Paxton and Rebecca Moak’s friendship runs deep. The women live at Lakewood Retirement Community in Henrico but share more than just an address.

The women are bonded in grief as both of their husbands were recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Tuckie fell in love with her husband James when they were in their teens.

“I think he is the most fantastic person ever,” Tuckie said. “We started dating in high school. Now 60 years later here we are.”

In 2017, Tuckie noticed changes in her beloved James. A doctor’s diagnosis changed their world.

“She came back and said it is Alzheimer’s," Tuckie said following her husband's 2017 CAT scan. "With that, I may have walked straight into a brick wall."

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Her gregarious husband was an executive in telecommunications. He even volunteered for the Richmond chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

"He is declining and I can see it," Tuckie said.

Before retiring, Rebecca’s husband David worked in sales and marketing.

“He is a very positive person. Likes to kid around and joke and things like that,” Rebecca said.

In 2021, doctors deliver a double dose of bad news on the same day. Alzheimer’s disease and Melanoma in his eye. Surgery and radiation helped him beat cancer. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s.

“It doesn’t get better. It just doesn’t get any better,” Moak said.

But the pair is leading the charge at Lakewood by participating in and organizing fundraisers for the Walk to End Alzheimer's Richmond.

“We watch out for each other,” Moak said.

Spelling Bee, walks, art shows, and other activities have raised more than $50,000.

“My message to people is you have to do everything you can to keep your brain healthy,” Moak said.

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Tuckie and Rebecca said there is strength and comfort in numbers.

Lakewood’s Community Outreach Liaison Sally San Soucie said the women inspire others and bring awareness to the disease that is robbing them of their loved ones.

“We’ve been very proud of our fundraising. We’ve had a lot of participation,” Sally said. “Their support was a big, big part of our success this year. Certainly, Rebecca and Tuckie were what drove the most passion.”

Tuckie Paxton and Rebecca Moak rely on family and fellow residents to help them in their journey.

“I think it is very critical. And I think it is important to be open,” Tuckie said. “It is something we all need to be aware of.”

“I think that both of our husbands having Alzheimer’s is a connection,” Rebecca said. “We have this integrated community. It is not something formal but we’ve built up friendships and we share. And support each other.”

The friends may be bonded in grief but they are banding together to take a stand against Alzheimer’s.

“I think we have come a long way in terms of awareness for Alzheimer’s,” Tuckie said. “There is hope. Some day we’re going to find a cure.”

Tuckie, Rebecca, and other folks at Lakewood have raised over $57,000 for the Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's Richmond, making them the top team. Their efforts will continue through the rest of the year.

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