Beach Family

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How Todd came to join the Terrell Family Tree ~I was just nineteen, madly in love, about to be married, and pregnant, when I first learned about Todd.  Ricky told me he had been “the OTHER man” in a relationship with a  woman 3 years before, when she became pregnant.   It happened when Ricky was just out of the service.  He was young and feeling lost, when his friend Harvey helped him find a job.   Harvey also offered him a place to ‘crash’ for a while (one I’m sure he later regretted!) especially since his work took him out of town a lot.   When Marilyn became pregnant she took the girls and ran away with Rick but soon came to the realization that he would have had a hard time supporting her along with her 2 other children … so she went back to Harvey who said if Rick stepped out of the picture, that he would raise the child as his.

Since I was so young naïve and pregnant, my first thoughts were of my child being the number 2 grandchild instead of the first, and would “she” always have a hold on my husband.

I had nightmares of her and or Todd showing up out of the blue years later, and as I opened the door – one or the other would shoot me!!  I remember years later when I first met Todd, I told him about my dreams and he LAUGHED saying ‘ You never know!!’.

All those years we missed not knowing him were because of my fears. We always meant to tell Ryan about Todd together, but some how never quite got around to it until one day when he was ten, something came up that let me know the time was right. I was alone with him and was amazed at his reaction. His first questions were ‘Is he American?’ and ‘Did it happen during the war?’ I guess there had been a lot of TV coverage he’d heard of the Viet Namsoldiers and the babies they’d left behind – I just never expected a 10 year old to grasp it all. Of course his next questions were more typical of a child, ‘Does he like tree houses?’ ‘Does he have a dog?’ and ‘Does he look like me?’.

Later we’d heard that Todd’s parents had divorced … so by the time I finally over came my fears and set up a meeting, Todd was 14 and Ryan 11. We all were very awkward, but the boys were fine. Ryan went right up to him, stuck out his hand and said ‘Hi, I’m Ryan, wanna go play with the dogs?’ and off they went. They got to sleep well out of our ear shot and Ryan told me later that he said to Todd – ‘So what’d you think when you found out my Dad was your Dad??’ Todd reacting by laughing, saying -well I guess I can’t be too mad, cuz if it hadn’t happened – I wouldn’t be here!’ From that moment on they were not only brothers, but best of friends.

Todd lived with us for about 6 months when he was 15 – a difficult age at best, but except for one incidence, the stay went extremely well. He continues to be a big part of our family and we all try to stay in close contact. He is now married and given us 3 beautiful grandchildren.

by Suzi Terrell