About a man…

June 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm (Thoughts)

This is the speech I wrote for my grandpa’s funeral a little over two years ago. Speaking at his funeral, recounting his life and talking about the man I knew as grandpa is one of the greatest memories I have. As you can see, his life was one of stuggle, addiction and finally redemption….

“Today we are not mourning the death of Raymond Eugene Pressley. We are celebrating the life he lived and his reunion with our Heavenly Father. 

Grandpa was a proud man, serving three years in the United States Marine Corp, spending 13 months in the Korean War.

In his early days, he was fond of having friends over and cooking out. He was the master of the grill serving up grilled steaks and baked potatoes. He retired from Town and Country Ford inCharlottewhere he was given the responsibility of opening the service department and closing it down. While at Town and Country he met some of his greatest friends. During his brief stay in a nursing home about three months ago, dementia had already settled into the depths of his mind, he constantly yelled out random names including “Momma” and “Pinkie”. We explained who these people were to the nurses. However, the nurses were puzzled when he would yell out “Lonzo! Lonzo!” but we knew what he meant. Alonzo was one of his greatest friends at Town and Country Ford. Ultimately, he was devoted to his friends, family and his career. 

He was proud of his children, David a Union County Police Officer, his daughter-in-law Tammy who he fondly called “Slammin’ Tammy,” his daughter Beth, a Registered Nurse, his son-in-law Chris who helped take care of him in the last year of his life.

 Grandpa also found tremendous joy in his grandchildren. His oldest grandson Drew followed in the footsteps of his uncle, becoming a Horry County Police Officer. Grandpa lovingly called Drew’s wife Heather “Half Pint”. There is Brandon whom he called “Bran-Man”. He is graduating this year and attendingCentralPiedmontCommunity College. Katelyn was his little girl who he called “Katie-Pooh”. She is also graduating this year and attending Coastal Carolina University. 

To Brandon and Katelyn, I want you two to know that Grandpa will be walking with you across the stage as you graduate. He is so proud of you as we all are. 

Then there is me a Graduate student at USC. He rarely called me Jessica preferring to affectionately mispronounce my name as “Jessic-er”. 

He was elated when he was able to visit his sister Jennie Mae and his brother Harold around Christmas time. Out of 8 children these were the remaining three. After the visits, he couldn’t stop talking about the joy that the visits brought him. 

Grandpa lost two of the most important people early in his life His first son, Raymond Eugene Pressley, Jr. died at a mere 13 months old and even though my nana Gwen or as he called her “Pinkie” and him divorced many years before, he came to see her right before she died of lung cancer in 1993 and never stopped loving her. 

Her death marked a milestone in my grandfather’s life. It was the time when he put down the bottle and picked up his heart and life. He became the model grandfather, teaching us all how to drive…which may be the reason for my lead foot. He was always willing to play a game of blackjack or Uno and told us stories of his time in the Marines, stories that we hold dear to our hearts. 

He had many sayings which probably wouldn’t make sense unless you knew him. After drinking a cold drink he would exclaim “Woo Woo Welches”. He would speak random Korean words that he learned in the service, one being “Ichiban”. When saying hello to someone he would say “Hello Wall”. This saying finally made sense when he was at the nursing home. He was a speed racer in his wheel chair and would bump into a wall and exclaim “Hello Wall”. Finally, he would say “Guess what”. We would ask him “What?” He would grin and affectionately say “I love you”. 

And lets not get started on his Gomer Pyle references…all he needed to do was look in the mirror. At the end of his life he spent most of his time watching Gunsmoke, Andy Griffith, Bonanza and Hogans Heros.

These are only a few of his many stories that we will always keep with us. He learned how to slow down and appreciate the smaller things in life and in doing so taught all around him how to do the same thing. 

Overall, his life is a testimony to how our Lord can deliver and set free a person’s soul giving them a new lease on life. As he left this world he smiled his Raymond smile, letting us know that he was entering the arms of our Father.

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