|The passing of Nell Rickey this summer left a sadness with me. I have known Nell all of her life. My mother owned a house in Pineville that she inherited from her father. My father was an overseer, so we lived on a plantation near Alexandria. During this period, Mr. and Mrs.Wesley Honeycutt rented our house, and at that time, Nell was born. When I was eleven, we moved back to Pineville. Nell was three at that time. While an eleven-year-old boy can scarcely see a three-year-old girl at all, I remembered her covered with frills and lace. That characterized Nell all her life.
Her father. a merchant, had to leave Pineville due to the Depression. In the early thirties they lived in Natchitoches. That proved a very significant move, because she met a young Methodist minister (Reverend Henry Rickey), a graduate of State Normal College, whose father had been pastor of the church there. Nell and Henry had a date, which was supposed to be a date with Henry’s younger brother, Robert. It was love at first sight. I think they became engaged on that first date. Later, Henry said to me “I was starving for love, and Nell had one-hundred horsepower.”
They had a wonderful life together being married over forty years. Nell never felt she was a good preacher’s wife because she did not play the piano or teach Sunday School, but she was. She always made her special contribution in addition to supporting her husband in everything. They adopted two lovely little babies, Pat and David, who brightened their lives throughout and who closed out their affairs with great love and tenderness. Nell had a tubal pregnancy very early and her kidneys were so badly damaged that one had to be removed. The doctor said of other, “It is almost as bad as the one I removed.” To make matters worse, she was allergic to the normal drugs she needed to take. And so the rest of her life was a battle just to stay alive.
When Henry was killed one Saturday morning in November, many of us felt Nell would go to pieces. We were so wrong. I took her to see the Social Security people, went with her lawyer, took her to buy a car, and helped stabilize her finances. We went to dinner a number of times. Then Marie and I said, “Nell can make it, now.” And she did.
The next months saw her become a part of Shreveport. She joined clubs, entertained, took part in politics, went on trips, and went and went and went. Her kidney got worse and she had to go on dialysis. Three mornings a week she had to spend long hours in this severe treatment. She would come home, rest all afternoon and go out at night. She made a host of friends on her own. She entertained twenty-five guests honoring her daughter, Pat, on Saturday. She went to the hospital on Monday; she died on Wednesday. That is how Nell would want it.
How can you describe a girl so frail and so full of fears, yet so courageous and so full of life? Ponce de Leon searched through Florida for the Foundation of Youth. He did not find it because he was looking in the wrong places. Nell found it because she looked within. She remained young all her life. Her desires and interests remained those of a young person. She never grew old. Truly she attained “eternal youth.” Now she has attained “eternal life.”
God bless your memory, dear little girl. You made things brighter and happier for a lot of people.
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 1984; p. 205 By Jolly B. Harper|