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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A Story of Laughter and Love..H.G. Terrell

My Papa Speedy made me laugh many times.

It was another cold and rainy day in Georgia, and I was really ready for some sunshine. The weather that day oddly seem to express how I felt about my trip. I had just left work, and I was on my way to Rome to visit family. I didn't know what to expect once I arrived at the hospital, but I knew I had to get there. I was cautious and listened to the Kimmer, a radio show host out of Atlanta. He was always so funny, so that was a perfect choice for this ride. I laughed most of the way and tried to not to think about what might be waiting.
I was on my way to see my Granddaddy Terrell also know as Papa Speedy, my Mother's father, and the only grandfather that I knew. He was sick and dying from cancer. As I finally pulled into the parking garage, I walked as quickly as I could across the bridge that led to the hospital. When I reached his room, I walked in and saw my Uncle David, my Mother, my brother Jeff, and my sister Julie all near Papa Speedy. My brother turned around and looked at me with tears in his eyes, and said to me "Papa Speedy just died a few minutes ago." Jeff hugged me as I broke down and cried. I wanted to be with him in his last moments.
That night on the way home was one of the longest trips. He died on January 9, 1998.
I can remember the day I received the news he was diagnosed with cancer, and when he had surgery. I also remember when I was told the cancer came back and had spread to his bones. Bone cancer. Two words I never wanted to hear about my Papa Speedy having. No treatment was given; doctors said there was nothing they could do for him. Heartbreaking....to say the least.

Although this quote is from a TV show, it really resonates with me in regards to the loss of my Papa Speedy.
(pic from Pinterest)

I wanted to write a special post about Papa Speedy on this date: April 14 because today is his birthday. If he had survived cancer and lived,  he would be 101 years old. He was born in 1914 and named Henry Grady (often called HG) and was married to wonderful woman, my Mama Speedy (Myra)  for over 62 years, and they raised four children (my Mother was the oldest). He meant so much to me, here's a little bit about my Papa Speedy.

 My Mother's parents were a bright spot in my life, and I spent summers with them and weekends. My childhood wasn't the best due to reasons I won't share in this post, but you can read a little bit about it in my older post "Holiday Daddy Issues." He was the only grandfather that I knew, my Dad's father passed away when I was four, and I have no memories of him. There are so many things I could share with you about him, but I'll only share a few.

First, he had the best smile ever! I can't remember him not ever smiling, and he had a wonderful laugh to go with that smile. He used to pick on me, and after he was finish with his teasing, he was smiling. I never really got mad at him unless he was throwing worms at me and my little sister. We would help with the corn from the garden by taking the silk off of it, and he would always find a worm or two to torture me and my sister with. We would run away and go tell Grandmother. He would sit there and laugh at us. He was just having fun, and at least we got some exercise from it. He also would pinch me if I was falling asleep in church, and it was easy to do in the church they attended. He always gave me some gum to chew at church which sometimes helped with keeping me awake, and it was always clorets gum.

His favorite gum. He always had a pack. Always.

Second, he was one of the most generous men I knew and hardworking. He was called Speedy because Speedy was his nickname that was given to him when he was really young. He was called that because he was fast at his work and hardworking. He started working when he was 8 on his parents' dairy farm, and he quit school in eighth grade to help full time on the farm. Most of my memories stemmed from him already being retired from his job, and he had two gardens which he did all the work. He shared the vegetables from the garden with everyone: his children, preacher, and neighbors. Many times, I can remember him bringing us vegetables from his garden, so that we would have food on our table. He wasn't just a grandparent, but also helped took care of us. He and grandmother made sure my Mother had food to eat to feed us. She had tough times, and they were there for us in those times. I'll never forget his generosity.

He lived out this quote by Princess Diana. I can remember him talking about her as well. He made the comment when she gave birth to Henry, that her son was named after him. He loved to joke around.(pic from Pinterest)

Third, he enjoyed his food and would pick on me when I didn't always eat what was served. He would say,
"Well, that just leaves more for me to eat. You're missing out."  He enjoyed eating biscuits with gravy with a good cup of coffee. When I started drinking coffee, he said to me: "Coffee with your sugar and cream?" LOL! That was the only way I would drink coffee back then. He would drink his coffee with a little cream and sugar. and he always had two cups or more. One thing he didn't like was mayonnaise; he couldn't stand it. My grandmother used to tease him about that. He would teased her with his nickname for her which was Sally, or he would call her by her middle Ruby, and boy that would just upset her. Those two would tease each other, and it was fun to listen to and watch.

One of his favorite drinks ever....good old coffee.

Finally, he was an honest man who loved his family, and he proved it with actions. He gave to us in need and even when we wanted things like ice cream or to raid the kitchen when Mama Speedy wasn't around. I wanted to show him that I loved him and not just with words. I did it by cooking. I can remember cooking a meal for him one time: meatloaf, beans, potatoes, cornbread and cabbage. He loved it! I was flattered that I could cook a southern meal, and my Granddaddy enjoyed it. I also remember his love for sweet potato pies, and I was determined I was going to make a homemade sweet potato pie for him and I did. He called me and told me it was one of the best pies he ever had. That made me so happy.

One final memory I have of him was when he was living at my Mother's house (he stayed there until he went into the hospital in 1998). He was sitting on the couch, and he said to me "Maria, will you massage my back. I'm hurting." I said yes of course, and I massaged his back. I can remember he was so frail, and I was so sad that he had lost so much weight that you could feel it in his back and see it. He was never overweight, he stayed in shape, but he had lost so much weight. I cried later because I didn't want him to see me cry. I just wanted to make him feel better. During his whole time suffering from cancer, he wasn't bitter or angry. I can't remember him being upset; I remember him smiling. I learned something from him watching him and knowing him the way I did. He could have easily allowed cancer to take all his happiness, but he didn't. He was and is still an example to me when times are difficult. He smiled through it all.

This was a very hard post to share but so rewarding to share as well. While you still have your grandparents, take pictures with them and do little videos too. Go on trips with them. I rode bikes with my grandparents and went to Florida with them. I enjoyed just spending time with them for that is something that money cannot buy is TIME.
He was exactly like this quote....He was a simple and honest man with hardly any money to his name, but his life and his worth and actions were were worth so much more.  

Today, I want you to know two things: I wish I had one picture with him that I could share, and I can't find one. I'm sure I have one somewhere, and when I do, I'm going to publish it with this post. I wish I took more pictures with him. Years ago, I didn't take many pictures; I didn't have a camera until I was 18. If he was here today, I would say "Papa Speedy, let's have some ice cream, but first, let's take a selfie." And he would do it. I also would want to sit on their front porch and just drink coffee and talk about nothing special. I would be content to sit there and listen to his stories and hear his laughter one more time. I miss hear him telling me "I love you girl." I miss his laughter most of all.

I saved the best for last...Papa Speedy and Mama Speedy

About Maria Rochelle

Maria is a writer of multiple genres, and author of the popular children's picture story book series Jasmine Dreams.
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