Southern Utah News Articles
Alzheimers challenge - and the Tuckers are winning!
Editor’s note-Clyde and JoAnne Tucker are two individuals that I’ve admired for years. When Clyde told me he had Alzheimers disease, I couldn’t believe it! He was always my go-to person, to have a good perspective on everything, even though we often disagreed! His intelligence and non-judgmental attitude have always been refreshing and not something you often see. He and JoAnne were willing to share their lives with us, and I’m grateful. They are class acts!
“A few things started popping up,” said Clyde Tucker, of the first symptoms. “I would forget names and numbers. I thought I might have Alzheimers. My first experience of being disoriented was looking for the drug store. I got to the post office and remembered that it was close. I found the pharmacy, and Kortney Stirland told me to get it diagnosed.”
When they were both Brigham Young University students, Clyde Tucker and JoAnne Black didn’t know their paths would cross and form an eternal bond. Clyde said that while he liked the ladies, and fell in and out of love, he wanted to complete his mission before getting too involved. Clyde said, “Thank heavens Jo and I didn’t meet until after my mission!”
But after he served in the Ontario Toronto mission, he got back to looking. He went to a big LDS church dance, where friends tried to fix him up with someone. He rejected them and took someone else...but guess who caught his eye at the dance? JoAnne!
“She was so pretty. I asked someone else who she was, and they said, ‘you dummy, that’s who we tried to fix you up with!’”
Clyde contacted JoAnne and they began dating. “I told my roommate Little John, you better get packing!” Clyde related of his agreement with his roommate, that whoever found a potential wife first kicked the other out of the accommodations.
JoAnne and Clyde married in 1956. That union has translated into 56 years of happiness, three children (two boys and a girl), 19 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren!
“I majored in secondary education, and we married in my senior year,” said Clyde. After talking to an accountant, he decided that his life career ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. He went to work for a large pharmaceutical company in sales.
“For the most part, I stayed home,” JoAnne said, of their lives raising children. Unfortunately, JoAnne’s life was plagued with challenging health issues. She said through the years, Clyde always arose to the challenge...of helping his wife who was dealing with young children and poor health.
Life went on. They raised their children and moved to Kanab, where they enjoyed retirement. But as we all know, life sometimes throws a curveball.
Things became topsy turvy in Clyde’s life. “I would second guess myself,” he admitted. “I didn’t want to tell the kids until we knew more about it. Jo felt we should tell them right away, so we could have the benefit of their faith and prayers, so we told them. Their response was, ‘good night Dad, are you just now figuring that out? We have known for more than a year now that you were getting somewhat loopy,’” admitted Clyde with a chuckle.
The first two years were the worst, said the Tuckers. There was the ‘why me’, and knowing there is no cure. Clyde had trouble dealing with the reality of that. “I remember coming home from St. George, and getting disoriented, and felt we had made a wrong turn. I was glad to see Colorado City, and knew we were on the right road.”
“I suddenly couldn’t give change,” said Clyde, adding, “that was embarrassing.”
“He’s so much better now than he was two years ago,” added JoAnne.
“It’s so important to start soon,” said Clyde, of treatment. “I took what meds were available then, and have added some.”
Clyde said that he researched the disease on the Internet, and embraced helpful physical and mental exercise. Through connections, he hooked up with a top UNLV Alzheimers specialist, who also gave him medication and suggestions to prolong the more crippling mental effects of the disease. He memorized the Alzheimers test backward and forward.
“Since I’ve gotten Alzheimers, they’ve come so far,” said Clyde. “They now have many more tests and medications.”
Clyde added, if any of your doctors suggest you see a psychiatrist to deal with problems put before you – go! “I believe in a good therapist!”
He also finds help through other therapies, such as prayer, incense, meditation and music. “Every now and Zen, I like to do it!” said Clyde.
“Life is great and all is well,” and “I can do that,” are Tucker’s mantras.
“My belief is that we’re going to have the great judgement, and we’re going to be graded on how we reacted to what’s in front of you. I felt so bad for JoAnne, and taking care of a batty old man,” said Clyde.
“Oh, stop that!” said JoAnne.
Clyde bemoans that his wife is in denial.
“I’m not going to let him give up,” JoAnne responded. “It’s funny when this first started happening, I thought he was feeling sorry for me. I had always been the one with health problems. Years ago, they gave me only about a year to live. But, he was always there for me. I feel like we all have trials in our lives, but God is not going to give us any more than we can handle. You always seem to meet someone with more problems than you. When he (Clyde) said he wanted to die, prayers healed.”
JoAnne celebrates their lives before and after coming to Kanab. She cites that while she has experienced serious illness in life, there were many times she was in remission and feeling well.
JoAnne and Clyde are proud of their two missions they served for the LDS church. They also enjoyed trips abroad with Karen Alvey and Gene Drake.
JoAnne spoke of their church and neighbor support, and how so many great people have helped them. “That really bothers me. Accepting help from others,” said JoAnne. “We have such wonderful neighbors, and people in our church and of other faiths. Everyone is so good and kind.”
Clyde Tucker adds there are some advantages to having AD. “We get to hide our own Easter eggs. We never have to serve on a jury, we can re-read a book and still have to read it completely to know how it ends, and we have an excuse for all of the dumb things we may say or do.”
“I’m so much more content than I was two years ago, when I became aware of it. Do everything you possibly can,” said Clyde. “Laughter and happiness do not make you overcome depression, but it sure makes you feel better! Attitude is so important.”
“Everyone has problems,” said Clyde. “We aren’t going to be judged on mishaps, but rather how we handle life’s challenges. He cited a Bible verse from Thessalonians, which tells of different seasons.
“I’ve had so many wonderful seasons,” said Clyde. “One of my most cherished seasons is the one we are now in. We want to thank all of you wonderful people in Kanab for making it so. Enduring to the end, that’s my season now.”