First Home Visit: Traveling into the Unknown for a Pleasant Surprise

| 3 Comments

Angela and I went to our first home visit this afternoon.  We met for lunch in the cafeteria, and then we trekked to D lot to get my car.  My nerves were already on edge about driving to an unknown place in Greensburg.  This is my first year of having a car on campus and besides simple trips to Wal-Mart and back; I have not explored much of the Greensburg area.  So an adventure into a residential neighborhood was not anything I have felt motivated to try.  My first concern was whether we were going to manage to get there without becoming hopelessly lost.

Luckily, I thought ahead and borrowed my parents’ GPS.  So, Angela and I slid into my car.  I plugged in the GPS, typed in the address, and headed down the winding, tree-lined road which always lets me know I am safely on Seton Hill’s property.  At the bottom of the hill, I took a gulp, and turned into an unfamiliar world.  I had left plenty of time to get to the senior citizen’s home who we had been assigned, since I was unsure how far away it was and I wanted to leave extra time in case we got lost.  But, this worry was needless, after driving down a pretty road full of sunshine, green lawns, flowers, and trees, Angela and I spied our house.

I pulled into the driveway, turned off the car, glanced at Angela and said, “Are you ready?”  I think both of us were a little anxious about what we were walking into.  We had been informed that our senior had suffered a stroke not long ago and we were both concerned we might have trouble understanding him.  Nor did we constantly want to be asking him to repeat, if we did have difficulties, as we would feel guilty over these constant requests.

We stood in front of his front door, Angela rang the door bell, and we gave each other one last terrified glance, before the door opened.  On the other side of the door we found a friendly and smiling face.  He graciously said, “Come in, come in.  You may have a seat on the couch.”  To my great relief despite a slight slur, his speech was quite understandable.

Angela and I slipped off our shoes and had a seat on his couch.  Before I knew it almost two hours had slipped by.  Tom Tridico, our senior, had so many interesting stories, pictures, and things to say; there is no way I can even begin to do justice to all we discussed in this blog.  Nor would I be able to remember it all. 

He was drafted into World War II; he was stationed in the Philippines as a medic as part of the Marines (although, he was part of the Navy, the Marines needed medical personnel).  Later, he was part of the forces which were to invade Japan.  However, the atomic bombs were dropped first.  After the bombings, he was still stationed in Japan for a time.  He had taken pictures of all of this which he shared with us.  Some of the stories regarding these pictures were humorous.  For example, there was one picture with several rows of shirtless Pilipino women.  He told us that the armed forces had actually raised money and bought all these women shirts.  However, they didn’t like the feeling of the t-shirts on their breasts.  So they cut two holes in the t-shirts to resolve this problem.  Others pictures were full of sadness.  The pictures of the devastation in Japan were full of decimated buildings and dead bodies.

After his time in the military, Mr. Tridico was a state police officer.  He ended up being the Sergeant in charge of Somerset, Cambria, and Indiana counties (maybe even more, I might have forgotten some).  He also informed us that he used to work two days a week up at Seton Hill when it was an all girls’ school.  He would help take care of the petty problems which would arise on the campus.  He told us that the problems were not so much with the students themselves, but with other people who came onto campus.  Little issues like harassment of the female students and above all else “peeping toms” would need to be taken care of.

He was involved in many serious rape and murder cases.  He even showed us two books which have been published about cases he was in charge of.  He shared with us that his father, who had come over from Italy, had been a fireman.  It soon became apparent that much of his family has given their time and lives in careers which directly keeps the rest of us save.  As Angela commented to him, “You come from a family of heroes.”

In his basement, he had a little study area for himself.  The wall behind his desk was plastered in awards, pictures, telegrams, and newspaper articles.  One telegram was from a family thanking him for his help in catching a man who had raped their daughter.  He had a picture of himself with President Eisenhower.  He also had a signed picture of J. Edgar Hoover who he met while at the FBI school (although he was not training to be in the FBI). 

One of his awards which particularly caught my attention was a congressional commendation from John Murtha for his help in the Johnstown Flood of 1977.   For anyone who isn’t familiar with this, check out this YouTube video.  There have actually been three major floods in Johnstown.  The first and worst was in 1889, and then there was another in 1939, and then the one in 1977. Since I am from near Johnstown and am in fact doing a practicum at Greater Johnstown High School right now, I was very interested to hear him talk about his involvement.  He told us he was part of a crew that searched for victims of the flood.  They had to do a lot of this from helicopters, because of the water still on the ground.  He said he found around 60 dead bodies.

He showed us little handmade chairs his wife collected, a doll house full of furniture which was his wife’s, artwork done by his daughter and wife, and pictures of his family.  He has grandchildren about our age and we discussed the economy, Seton Hill, Saint Vincent, the Pirates, Greensburg, JoAnne Boyle (he used to be her neighbor!), and more.  The only thing he asked in return was that we uncover his air conditioner.  Mostly, he just wanted to talk to us. 

As Angela and I said goodbye and headed out in the sunshine outside, I couldn’t help wondering why I had been so worried.  He had so much to say and was so very nice.  I can honestly say I had an enjoyable time getting to know him.  The things he had to say, the pictures he showed us, and the stories he told were genuinely interesting.  It warms my heart and fills me with gratitude to know that there are people like Mr. Tridico who fought for our country, served as a policeman, and even now is a Greensburg Councilman. 

3 Comments

Wonderful entry, Greta. You really capture our nervousness in your entry. But as you said, we had no reason to be nervous. Our fretting was useless because Tom is a nice man who just needs someone to talk to. It was a joy getting to hear his war stories and police stories. It's amazing to hear what all he's done and where all he's been. Switzerland, Florida, Hawaii, the Phillippines, Japan, WOW!!! I bet he went even more places and didn't even name them.

For more information about our time with Mr. Tridico,check out my blog. http://blogs.setonhill.edu/seniors-helping-seniors/2010/04/our-time-with-tom.html

This is awesome writing, Greta! Lauren and I have not yet done our first home visit, and I too have been nervous. Your blog makes me feel much better! I am really excited to go after hearing about your positive experience with this amazing man and after having such a pleasant time with the seniors at the highrise.

Having a mother, mother in law and a father in law whom are all senior citizens, I know how lonely they can get. The program you are in seems to be a really great idea and should be implemented in more places.

I also have a friend who works with senior citizens doing home visits and my wife used to do them too. These visits seem to be a little different than your ones in that the visitor will help the senior with all manner of tasks such as shopping, cleaning, cooking etc.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by GretaCarroll published on April 14, 2010 11:25 PM.

Yahtzee with Seniors was the previous entry in this blog.

Our Time with Tom is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.