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Our work at Terry’s House allows me to be reminded daily of our mission. We know that the presence of family is vital in the healing process of our most critical patients. Keeping family close by is something that used to be a tremendous challenge before we opened our doors in January 2011. Now, we see family members from all over the world come to Fresno where they now have the opportunity to be by the patient’s bedside in a moment’s notice, all because they are staying just across the street at Terry’s House. Even though we cannot change the circumstances of these families and patients, we are grateful for the opportunity to positively impact the journeys of our guests each day.
It is amazing to witness, on a daily basis, the compassion and care that humans are capable of showing and how extraordinary it is that people are willing to go to such great lengths for others in times of need. We recently had a very special family here at Terry’s House whose colleagues were able to beautifully illustrate this very act through this family’s circumstances and story even while in the midst of such tragedy.
As you can imagine, all of the families that stay with us are made up differently. Some are very large and others quite small… We see parents, children, spouses, aunts and uncles, friends, etc. And, in some cases, even pets serve as “family members” who come to support their loved one in our pet-friendly guest room. However, I am continually amazed by the number of “strangers” who also become “family” during times like these at Terry’s House… And, these newly formed “families” are just as vital in each other’s healing as they are in the patient’s journey across the street. These relationships serve as true examples of community in the most delicate and powerful form.
Some of you may recall recently reading or hearing about the highly publicized USDA federal scientist, Dr. John Lydon’s fatal car crash in Parlier a few weeks ago. Mr. Lydon arrived to the Central Valley from Maryland on business and soon after was involved in a very serious car accident that instantly killed three Reedley students in their early twenties. Mr. Lydon and another colleague were immediately transferred to the region’s only level-1 trauma center housed within Community Regional Medical Center. A nightmare followed for Mr. Lydon’s family…
Martina Lydon (also employed by the USDA) was John’s wife of over 30 years. She received the phone call that no person is capable of planning for… Her husband had been involved in a life threatening car crash and sustained major head injuries as a result. She needed to get to Fresno as soon as possible. Martina arrived from Maryland in a hurry. She was accompanied by another USDA colleague who didn’t even know Martina at the time, but knew the couple did not have children and that there was no other family in the area who could travel with her. What a gift this was for Martina.
From the moment Martina arrived, she was surrounded by so much care and concern from fellow USDA associates. Although very far from home, her Valley based colleagues knew that in the absence of family or friends, she needed their support. And while they may not know Martina personally, they ensured all meals were prepared and delivered during the length of her time in Fresno. There were also gorgeous flowers, numerous cards, phone calls and stacks of packages that flowed in over the course of Martina’s stay with us. As she dealt with the ups and downs of this emotional rollercoaster there were many “strangers” who made sure Martina had everything she needed here in Fresno… and she was beyond grateful.
John’s identical twin brother and older brother from Oklahoma and Massachusetts, as well as Martina’s sister and husband from Australia were later able to join her at Terry’s House and the family was able to continue supporting each other during this very difficult time. But, the support from colleagues did not stop… Each day Martina was able to share with our staff something special that happened or something she received in the mail, or even a neat story about John she hadn’t heard before because of these great folks.
Martina and John’s brothers built wonderful relationships with many other “strangers” staying at Terry’s House. I am humbled and encouraged by how quickly these families connect and support each other while there is so much fear and anxiety that comes with their similar circumstances… It just proves that no number of programs or information can replace the healing of human interaction and support that comes with this environment at Terry’s House. And, sometimes… it’s the “strangers” that make all the difference.
Our warmest condolences go out to Martina and the Lydon family.
-Christa Short, Executive Director-Terry’s House