Josh and Nicole Collins

Friends Forever

Gordon Popeko and Denise Mealey

Over 40 years ago, Denise met Gordon through her first husband. And, although her marriage ended when husband passed away, her friendship and care for Gordon has been everlasting.

Denise, now married to another, has stayed close to Gordon, who used to live next door, but now is only 4 blocks and a phone call away. The friends were Y buddies, coming to the facility 5 days a week, so Gordon could swim, work with the weights and walk on the track while Denise took Silver Sneakers classes.

Together, they met other Y-goers, who they saw daily in and out of the facility, walking around Lake Anna, making plans for lunch and visiting at each other’s homes for cookouts and such.

“What I really like best here is the people,” said Gordon, who is currently battling a diagnosis of acute leukemia. He also suffers from hearing loss, due to infections. But now has the benefit of double cochlear implants, that he loves but has to disengage when going to the pool or into the sauna – a place he finds peaceful.

“It (the sauna) just makes me feel good,“ he said.

Denise is not a fan of the sauna but does stay accompany Gordon as he travels his health and wellness journey in and out of the Y.

She has been his steady support through all of Gordon’s doctor’s appointments and treatments forming a bond of encouragement and hope.

“He would do the same for me,” she said. And, he agreed