AlTerek Patterson worked as a police sergeant in Bedminster, New Jersey. His parents and his brother tell his story.
Today, our Wake-Up Call newsletter is telling the story of AlTerek Patterson, a devoted father, husband, and police sergeant, who died at age 38 from Covid-19.
AlTerek Patterson, known as “Terek” to most, was the oldest in his family — and by far the biggest jokester. “Whatever the situation was,” his mother Karen Patterson told us, “he would find a way to make it funnier.”
His younger brother, Michael Patterson, added: “He was hilarious… Parties, family gatherings, didn’t start until Terek got there.”
But along with that sense of humor, Terek was also “neat, detail-oriented, and kept a calendar for different goals that he wanted to achieve,” his mom told us. In fact, per his brother, he was one of those people who never really seemed to have an off day — and happily juggled the responsibilities of being a devoted family man (as a son, brother, father and husband), with a diligent work schedule. So it made sense to everyone around him that Terek, Type A as he was, joined the Bedminister, New Jersey, police department back in 2006.
He was also a huge sports fan, and accumulated an extensive jersey and shoe collection. “I think even he lost count after a while,” Michael laughed. His favorite team? Ohio State.
In his 14 years on the force, Terek received three medals for saving peoples’ lives. And he had big dreams: “During his swearing in [as sergeant], the mayor asked him about his aspirations,” His father, Robert Patterson, said. “And he said he wanted to be chief.”
“I think he enjoyed interacting with people,” Michael said. “And he was loved by Bedminster township. A lot of people knew who he was just from conversations.”
When he wasn’t on the job, Terek could usually be found spending quality time with his wife, Brandi, and his children — an eight-year-old, and two-year-old twins. He asked his own dad to be his best man at his wedding, and often picked up overtime hours at his job — in order to give his family the best opportunities.
As the pandemic broke out, Terek was on the front lines — wearing a mask to prevent exposure, up until late March. That’s when he began developing Covid-19 symptoms. At first, Terek thought he’d come down with a “bad cold.” But like so many cases of Covid-19, his symptoms quickly worsened, and he began having trouble breathing.
Terek was tested for Covid-19 on March 30th, and received a positive result on April 1st. He went to the hospital on April 3rd, and was later admitted to the ICU, where he was put on a ventilator. His wife also had coronavirus, but her symptoms weren’t as severe.
Because they couldn’t enter the hospital, Terek’s family would still try to visit him — by walking the building’s perimeter, often three times per day. “It was a pretty large hospital,” Michael told us. “We would walk along the sidewalks, praying for his health, for his recovery, that he would make it back home safely.”
One day, a nurse was able to put up a sign to identify Terek’s room. “We would go up as close to the building as we could,” Michael said. “We’d yell up to him and would chant: ‘No fear, all faith; no fear, all faith.’” Terek was able to FaceTime multiple family members while hospitalized, though.
At the hospital, Terek was treated with a few different medications, but Michael said: “He had hypertension, which caused an irregular heartbeat. So the doctors had to stop and kind of let Covid-19 run its course.”
Several days passed, and eventually, a nurse called Terek’s family to let them know of his deteriorating condition. So his wife, Brandi, went up to the hospital to pray.
Terek died, at the age of 38, on April 12th, Easter morning. His family was able to have a small service to honor his memory. “I think the devastation is so bad, that you just try to make it through each day,” Robert said.
“He called me every single day just to say ‘hi,’ or just to check on me, to say he ‘loved me’” Karen added. “I really miss that, because I miss hearing his voice every day.”
Our hearts are with Michael, Karen, Robert and their loved ones at this time. Donate to help Terek’s wife and children, here.
Reporting by staff writer Amanda Svachula
This originally appeared on Medium.com