A Tribute to My Grandfather Tedrick Vacca

By Brianna Green '23

Hello, family members and friends. Thank you for coming together to celebrate the life that was lived by Tedrick Vacca. Tedrick is my grandfather but not biologically. He was with my grandma long before I was born and helped her take care of her three sons who were not his, so he raised me like I was his biological granddaughter. My papa was loved and respected by all because he had such a can do attitude even on his worst days. God would throw the hardest challenges his way, but he would alway get through it ready to overcome his next obstacle. It was February 26, 2017 when I got the call from my grandma that he had taken his last breath. As I walked into his hospital room to see him sitting up lifelessly sent me into shock.
I sat in the corner of the room staring intensely at him with a million unexplainable thoughts clouding my head. All I could think about was that I could not make any new memories with you and the worst part was I was not even by his side to hear his last words, to see his chest weakly rise one more time. That very night was an endless nightmare, knowing that my best friend, the only person that I could talk to and share my emotions with was gone. Losing him left a wide gap in me, soon filling with anger and regret. Angry at him for leaving me but also regretting not spending enough time with him and not being with him until the end. He fought until there was nothing left in him from being held at gunpoint to losing his leg and on top of all these different types of illnesses constantly trying to take him. I remember we would be waiting in the car blasting Chris Brown while waiting for grandma to come out the store.
I would rather listen to him and my grandma yelling at each other and don’t even know why they are arguing. I would rather be pushing him in his wheelchair around Glassboro admiring nature. I would rather be in his garden at his old house on Buck Road helping him plant different vegetables and plants, quietly watching the deers and other animals creep back to the woods. I would rather be sitting on his lap while he mows the lawn. I would rather be helping grandma aid him because he thought it would be funny to mess with a snake. I would rather him hit me with his scooter a thousand times because I was walking too slow. I would rather him be free and happy without me then suffering and laying in different hospital beds with me. Laying in the hospital bed with him catching him up on my social life and school work while he was half asleep but listening and nodding. Never would I think that would be the last time I could be next to him trying to match our breathing.
Late nights crying to myself because I relived seeing him laying in his casket and then being slowly lowered into the ground. Actually losing him made me realize how empty I am without him and how much I need him. He might not be with me physically, but I could always feel his presents when the scent of a hospital and vanilla follows me closely. As I read The Bend in the The Road by Helen Steiner Rice to end my speech, “Sometimes we come to life’s crossroads and we view what we think is the end. But God has a much wider vision and he knows it’s only a bend–The road will go on and get smoother and after we’ve stopped for a rest, the path that lies hidden beyond us is often the path that is best. So rest and relax and grow stronger. Let go and let God share your load and have faith in a brighter tomorrow. You’ve just come to a bend in the road.