George and Trudy Hall, Family House Guests

During their nine-week stay at Family House while their son recovered from a bone marrow transplant, George and Trudy Hall, 82 and 81, of Bethel Park, Pa. had many reasons to celebrate: their discovery of Southern cooking; their 59th wedding anniversary; and, primarily, Ken’s successful bone marrow transplant.

George and Trudy’s son, Ken Hall, 55, of Plainville, Ga., received a bone marrow transplant at UNC Hospitals in early August. Since the transplant, George and Trudy have stayed with Ken when his wife, Susan, could not be here.

After Ken’s leukemia diagnosis last spring, doctors recommended a bone marrow transplant. Ken’s sister was a 10 out of 11 match and agreed to be the donor. As of Oct. 5th, the transplanted bone marrow had assimilated by 98 percent, meaning it had almost fully integrated into Ken’s body.

Because of reduced immunity following the transplant, Ken has to be careful to avoid infection. Ken has to wear a surgical mask and avoid getting cuts or scrapes because of the increased risk for infection. Ken is not even allowed to shave with a bladed razor.

Though Ken is on a long road to recovery, George and Trudy said they are happy to be with their son. Because of the distance between Pennsylvania and Georgia, Trudy said she and George do not get to see Ken as often as they would like. “It gave us a real visit,” she said.

George and Trudy also said they could not be happier with their stay at Family House. George described the house as being comforting. “It’s sort of an aura,” he said.

Trudy added, “It’s more than that.”

George and Trudy said one of the best aspects of the house is the sense of community. “To have a group around you that is essentially sharing your plight—it’s been good,” George said.

Not only did the staff and guests at Family House share in George and Trudy’s struggles, they also shared in their joys. George and Trudy met on a blind date in January of 1951 and were married in October of 1952. The couple celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary while staying at the house. Staff provided the cake and candles.

In addition to the staff and other guests, George and Trudy said the physical surroundings of Family House add to the sense of community. They said their favorite room is the kitchen because of the relaxed, social atmosphere. “You make friends,” Trudy said.

The kitchen is also where the couple discovered their new-found love for Southern cooking. George and Trudy said they enjoyed Carolina BBQ and sweet potato dishes the most. They purchased several North Carolina cookbooks to take home to Pennsylvania.

Ken has recovered enough to return to Georgia, so the family’s stay at the house is coming to a close. George and Trudy said leaving the house will be bittersweet. Despite the difficulties of their son’s illness, George and Trudy said their experience with Family House was a positive one. “The surroundings have made the circumstances more than bearable,” George said. Trudy agreed. “It is a home away from home,” she said.

With his trademark grin, George said he hoped he would never see the Family House staff again. But, he did say he would miss us. It has been our great fortune to get to know these wonderful, kind people.