Tyler lives on: the story of a compassionate friend

Roseann's son, Tyler

The death of a child is something that affects a family deeply. A Port Clinton resident and business owner, Roseann Hickman, has used that pain to try and help others and bring positivity to her life.

On January 26, 1988 Roseann lost her son, Tyler, because of a house fire. Her two other sons, Dustin, who was two, and Dallas, who was three and a half, made it out okay. The fire was caused by a defect in the regulator that allowed propane to come in and out of the house. At the time Roseann and her family lived in Pemberville. They took Tyler back to Port Clinton to be laid to rest .Roseann ended up moving back to Port Clinton in 2003.

To help with the grieving process, Roseann attended meetings of the Compassionate Friends which is a support group for families who have lost a child no matter what the reason. The closest chapter that she found was in Waterville. Seeing a need for it in the Port Clinton community, Roseann started a local chapter of the Compassionate Friends in December of 2010.

“I had a client come into my salon and tell me her story of how she lost a child,” said Roseann. “Being sympathetic because of my own situation, I saw a real need in our community and decided to start a local chapter here in Port Clinton.”

There are over 650 chapters of the Compassionate Friends throughout the United States. The Port Clinton/Ottawa County chapter meets once a month and discusses various topics.

Recently Roseann and her husband, Rob, attended their niece’s funeral; she lost her battle with cancer. At the funeral Roseann saw a display case with finger print pendants that were available for purchase if someone had a loved one that had passed away. She asked the funeral director about the pendants. Roseann had lost all of Tyler’s toys and belongings in the fire along with photos and birth records so saw slim hope that she could have a pendant with Tyler’s print. The funeral director encouraged Roseann to go to the hospital where Tyler was born to see if they had the birth record and prints still in storage.

That afternoon Roseann contacted Magruder Hospital where Tyler was born and told them she was searching for her son’s birth records and prints. 

“I knew it was a long shot,” said Roseann, “but I told them if they had time I would really appreciate if they could look.”

Six days later the Medical Records Department of Magruder Hospital called and said they had something for her. When Roseann got to the Medical Records Department she was handed a manila envelope and inside was Tyler’s newborn identification certificate with his feet prints.

“Those ladies truly don’t know what they have done for me,” said Roseann. “I was always envious of families that had their child’s things. I know it’s hard for them to go through those things and pack them up, but I didn’t have that; I didn’t have anything. I lost it all in the fire.”

As an outcry of thanks, Roseann wrote a letter to Magruder Hospital CEO, Todd Almendinger. 

“They didn’t have to do what they did, they went above and beyond… way beyond,” said Roseann. “That’s why I moved back here to Port Clinton because people really care about each other.”

Excerpt from the letter:

I immediately made that phone call to your records department.  I told the young lady who answered that I knew it was a shot in the dark.  Could they possibly have a copy of my beloved son’s footprints?  I know that many changes had taken place in the last 31 years, records had been moved, technology changes, employees and so on.  There were so many reasons that it seemed totally impossible to me; unrealistic maybe.  I left them my name and phone number and politely asked them to take a look when they had a few minutes.  I know they are very busy and this was something that wasn’t a priority.  They were so polite to me and told me that they would do their best.  They even called back to ask my birth date and told me they couldn’t make any promises.  After all, it was so long ago and so many things have changed.  I understood, but also held out hope that just maybe they could find something for me.  I even prayed a little.

Well guess what….you got it!  They called on to let me now that they had something for me.  I finished one more client at my job and headed right over to Magruder.  I walked into the hospital and a very nice volunteer showed me the way to records.  I had called my husband on the way over because I was so nervous, scared and didn’t know how I would feel.  The young lady working in Medical Records handed me an envelope and told me I think this is what you are looking for.  I believe her name was Pat.  I opened it and started crying.  Big tears welled up in her eyes and she just had to come out and give me a hug.  I had told the ladies that my son had died, so they knew this was big.  She hugged me and told me she was so glad they could help me.

Help me?  They did more than that!  They gave me a part of my life back.  I now have my son’s footprints.  It is truly a miracle that they were able to do this for me!  After 31 years, who would think they would be able to find this information for me.  I cannot ever express my gratitude to these women in the Medical Records Department!  They are truly amazing.  I am using the document they gave me to frame and reflect on my son; his little feet that I touched so many times, his little toes that I counted over and over.  I can now see them.  To know that these women went out of their way to help heal my heart……I can never repay them!  My life is more complete because they took the time to truly care.  

I just want you to know that you have kind, compassionate and caring people working on your staff.  I read the hospital’s mission statement before I wrote this letter.  These women are living your mission statement.  

From the bottom of my heart…….thank you, thank you, thank you!

Roseann Hickman

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