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Table Talk: Local frontline worker describes how she finds strength during these tough times

Lydia Lichtenberger has lived a life of compassion
Lydia Lichtenberger cares for her mother
Lydia Lichtenberger
Tex-Mex Restaurant in San Diego
Posted at 3:30 AM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 08:38:09-05

SAN DIEGO, Texas — In the city of San Diego, time pretty much stands still.

At one time, it served as an important shipping center for livestock and agriculture as the city sat along the Texas-Mexican railway.

But now with the pandemic, the city has become even quieter.

At the popular Tex-Mex Restaurant these days, there’s no dining in. Instead, drive-thru service only.

During our trip to the restaurant, located at 210 N. Benavides St., we met with one of its regulars, Lydia Lichtenberger.

We asked Lichtenberger about the most pressing issue on her mind. She immediately responded, “All the work I have.”

Lichtenberger typically works 12-hour days and 6 days a week.

The San Diego native has been a physician liaison for the last 17 years.

When asked how difficult it was for her at this time since she’s a frontline worker, Lichtenberger told us, “It's pretty difficult. With the COVID, it's hard.”

Four COVID-19 tests later, Lichtenberger continues to test negative. That's even when she travels to peoples' homes, regardless if they have the virus.

"I like doing what I do,” she says. “I love being around helping people and everything.”

And for Lichtenberger, it’s not just about helping people during the pandemic.

"I don't know,” she says. “It comes out of my heart. I can't walk away or turn my back on anyone that needs help.”

That includes her parents, her three children, and her grandchildren.

But it was Lichtenberger’s mother who influenced her the most.

We asked her where she got all of her compassion to help so many people and her answer was personal.

"I took care of my mom for 30 years,” Lichtenberger told us. “I guess she taught me to be strong. She was a fighter. She was a survivor. She was a very loving, caring mother.”

Adding, “She was always helping people. She was always there for anybody who needed help.”

It's that strength from her mother that's gotten her through some of the most difficult times not only in her personal life but throughout her career and that includes helping the dying pass on.

When most people can only imagine what it’s like to hold the hand of a person as they’re dying in hospice, Lichtenberger has been there countless times. We wanted to know what it was that made her such a strong person.

“I don't know,” she told us. “I really don't know. I guess, because I care.”

Whenever Lichtenberg feels like giving up, she says there's always something or someone that’s pushing her forward.

"The feeling of accomplishment,” she says. “I have a lot of faith in God. I feel like God is protecting me.”

Lichtenberg. 66, says she has no plans on giving up her career anytime soon.

When asked if she could change her life anyway, she said definitely not.

“I'm happy doing what I'm doing right now,” she said.

As for being a frontline worker during the pandemic, she believes people need to know that they’re not alone.

"I don't think there's going to be an end anytime soon to this, but people need to know there's people that care and are still out there to help them,” she said.

As Lichtenberger continues to take care of her family and her patients, she still finds the time to take care of herself.

“I am too busy with everything that I have to do, yes,” she told us. “I really never think about me.”

Lichtenberger may not think about herself but she tells us she takes care of herself so she can take care of others.

We're nearing the home stretch of our 12-county tour with only two counties remaining. With our visit to San Diego, the capital seat of Duval County that also sits in Jim Wells County, we added another.

We have yet to get to Jim Hogg and Brooks counties.

So where should we go next to find some good food and even better conversation? That’s where you come in. We want to hear from you.

You can get in touch with me on the social media platforms you see below.

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