FOR OVER 35 years, Trena Tucker Cook stood behind the chair. Today, her appointment book is entirely cleared, making time for the most important things in her life—her family.
Cook said, “Between working 50+ hours a week, taking care of Daddy and my 14-year-old, I was exhausted. I can always get the job back, but I can’t get those two back. I am much more rested, have much more patience with everybody, and [I] like people more again.”
But what she said next got his attention.
“We have a little more riding time.”
When you mention riding, the sparkle in Coy Tucker’s eyes is brighter than the beams streaming through the sunroom windows. His smile is contagious; their banter feeds off each other with a sense of humor that keeps you on your toes. Tucker has an answer for everything, and it’s usually hilarious.
Riding time is his favorite time.
Cook enjoys getting off the main roads and exploring the beauty found only on the back roads. No ride is long enough for Tucker.
roads. No ride is long enough for Tucker.
“I wish she had a little more time,” he said.
No longer able to drive, Tucker’s not used to sitting still. When his wife, Betty, was alive, they traveled the country together, missing only Alaska and Hawaii “because we couldn’t drive there,” he said. I’ve been through most of Bedford County, but there are places I’ve not been.”
So together, they explore the backroads as often as possible. Each has their favorite things to watch for on their rides.
Tucker likes to look for deer and Sasquatch, but Cook’s list of favorites is longer.
As he rolled his eyes, Tucker said, “You know what she likes? Narrow roads with trees over them like a tunnel, and silos. She likes to go to the old cemeteries, and I have to sit in the car while she walks through them, looking at the tombstones for people she might know. Trena loves old abandoned houses and old churches, old barns, and old farm equipment. And turtles on the road. She [doesn’t] want [them] to get run over.”
Cook documents their rides with photographs of roadside treasures and shares snippets of conversations on her Facebook page. Many people enjoy riding the backroads with them, but there’s more to it than scenic photos and good laughs. Cook has chosen to approach these days with her daddy with heart and humor, refusing to let dementia dictate their days.
Tucker learned early to mind the women in his life. Cook’s sister, Belinda, lives in Bowling Green, and their brother, Brad, lives in Shelbyville.
Speaking of his wife, Betty, Cook’s stepmother, he said, “She was in my same class; a valedictorian. She was smart and very picky, too,” he laughs. “So I had to mind her.”
Tucker has always been a busy man. Retired from Jostens, many will know him from his passion for bowling. His 300- game ring reminds him daily of the special milestone, and on his other hand is his ring from Jostens. He enjoyed working with wood and is surrounded by many of his creations and collections. Like him, their sense of humor and heart resonates throughout.
Caregivers allow Cook time to be more present in all of life’s moments with her family and friends. In addition to her middle school-aged son, Cook has an adult son and daughter-in-law and recognizes now more than ever the value of family over stuff.
“You can replace all this,” she said. “I don’t want to live with regrets.”
The love is tangible in their time and space together. Whether sharing it in person or online, it brightens the days of others and encourages us all to be more present.
It’s a challenge Cook has accepted with all of her heart. GN