Lifelong Health & Aging

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Carrie Fuqua's Story

Bill and Carrie Fuqua always enjoyed traveling during their marriage, but over the last few years it felt good just to stay home. The house that Bill designed 43 years ago with the help of a Williamsburg architect is a retreat itself perched on a steep lot overlooking College Creek. Every window is a postcard and why several pairs of binoculars are scattered throughout the three-story home. 

Bill loved the house, affectionately referred to as Duck Blind, distinguished by its open floor plan, high ceilings and ample light. Carrie moved in when they married 15 years ago and is partial to the wood stove that provides a toasty heat that warms the body from the toes up.

“We had a lot of fun here,” says Carrie, who lost her husband, Dr. William Claiborne Fuqua, Sr., to cancer in March 2020. “Bill always wanted to be here.”

Enrolling in Riverside’s ChooseHome program, which provides individualized support and services that allow people to remain in their own homes while they age, allowed Bill to fulfill that wish.

Carrie Fuqua describes her husband, a longtime dentist in the area, as a friendly fellow and storyteller with a marvelous sense of humor. 

“He was frugal, but he had me,” she says. 

Carrie made a career as a financial planner, and once they discussed the benefits the ChooseHome program offered, the decision to sign on was easy. ChooseHome offers flexibility for each family with individualized plans for each spouse.

Each brought three children into their married life, and they share seven grandchildren. 

“But none of the kids live in town,” Carrie says. 

Even had that been the case, all have families of their own and jobs. The Fuquas didn’t want to burden them with everything that goes into caring for a sick family member. 

“That was another reason we went with ChooseHome,” Carrie says.

Carrie relied on Personal Services Coordinator Charlie Martino to help the couple navigate the difficult time that ultimately included around-the-clock care for Bill’s battle with cancer. Martino had become a trusted confidant long before Bill and Carrie needed direction. He checked in regularly with them and visited their home occasionally, bonding with Bill over their shared time in the military.

They had discussed what both of them wanted in terms of care and support should either of them become ill.

“Any time I work with a new couple, I want to understand their views of what’s important for them today and as they plan for tomorrow,” Martino said. “When something happens, like the diagnosis of an illness, then we call on the depths of the relationships we established in our first year to have open conversations about future needs and what I can help with.”

“Charlie was right there. He was always there,” Carrie stresses. “He was such a support system.”

Martino coordinated additional support services, including Riverside Hospice and Palliative Care, when he saw Carrie struggling to care for Bill and their home by herself. 

“We’re playing a good chess game to make sure we’re three or four moves ahead, anticipating what our members are going to need from us,” he says.

Charlie knew Bill favored the dining room with its panoramic view of the tidal creek and sunsets that painted the skies pastels. He suggested they move out the table to accommodate Bill’s recliner and finally, a hospital bed. 

“Bill loved to sit there,” Carrie says. “He loved the view, and we moved the TV in there so he could watch the Financial Channel.”

Bill died March 27, 2020. The funeral outdoors was performed by a Riverside chaplain with Martino in attendance.

“Bill knew he was dying,” Carrie says. “He told me he felt surrounded by love and that’s all you can ask for.”

Carrie struggled in the months after Bill passed, falling twice. Grief-stricken, she was unable to overcome a mental hurdle during a dreary period when she wasn’t receptive to help from her children.

Martino’s support would eventually become a lifeline. He didn’t tell her what she wanted to hear. He advised her what she needed to do.

Carrie trusted him.

“Charlie was instrumental in my finding a wonderful new life,” she says.

Walk with Carrie through the home that she now shares with her Goldendoodle puppy, Missy, and she’ll point to Bill’s memory everywhere — his colonel’s hat from his years in the Army and a library of historical books he never tired of reading. She wears two wedding rings on the same finger — his gold band is closest to her heart topped by her own.

Carrie misses Bill but no longer wallows in the loss. She stays active playing bridge, has a trip to Key West planned for February and enjoys walking Missy in the tranquil neighborhood tucked inside Colonial Parkway.

She and Martino connect often, and recently, she was touched when he asked her for some advice related to a family problem of his own.

“That was a real compliment,” she says. “He’s a true friend, someone I always know is there when I need him.”