14-year-old Tyler Edde found a unique bond as he accompanied Rudy Hanners on his end-of-life journey.

By: Malarie Allen | Public Relations Specialist

Sometimes, two people on different life journeys converge for a time and leave an unforgettable mark on each other. Such was the case for Shepherd’s Cove patient Rudy Hanners and the unique bond he shared with his 14-year-old neighbor, Tyler Edde.

Last year, Edde came to live with his grandparents in Crossville, right across the street from Hanners. Edde soon took up with Hanners, and an unshakable bond quickly formed. Edde began visiting Hanners every chance he had after school and staying at his house most weekends. Edde would help Hanners’ daughter, Gina, care for Hanners, clean his house, cook, and do other household chores.

When Hanners had to move to the Shepherd’s Cove inpatient unit for symptom management, Edde continued to take care of his house and spend every spare moment of his weekends with Hanners. He would also text or call Gina every day during the week to check on his friend.

“He would rather be with daddy than anywhere,” Gina said. “He’s unlike any kid I’ve ever been around.”

Hanners struggled emotionally and physically after his wife of 48 years died six years ago. Through this new relationship with Edde, Hanners unofficially adopted a new son and “a reason to live,” according to Gina.

“God put him in that place for me,” Hanners said. “I couldn’t have made it without him. It was not haphazard. … If it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t be here today. I love him better than a son.”

Also, through this unexpected relationship, Edde found a new perspective on life. Hanners gave him his own Bible and encouraged him to read it daily. He helped Edde with struggles he faced, like bullies, difficult school work, and more. Soon, Edde began doing better in school, showing a great sense of responsibility, and discovering new leadership skills, according to Gina.

“They’re like best friends,” Gina said. “He’s so happy.”

Before he died, Hanners left Edde with some advice he hoped Edde would hold onto for the rest of his life.

“Never quit trying,” Hanners said. “Be persistent. Read your Bible and pray every day.”