NEW VINEYARD — Ricky Moody was sleeping, like most everyone else on the East Coast, when the checkered flag finally flew to end the Daytona 500 in the early hours of Monday morning.

Moody woke up Monday morning to find out that Michael McDowell won the biggest NASCAR race of the year to open the season.

“He watched bits and pieces of it, but of course it was rain-delayed, so he ended up missing (the end),” Moody’s mother, Teresa, said. “He was glad a Ford won. Wasn’t his guy (Kevin Harvick), but that was OK.”

Just a few weeks before, Moody got a victory lap of sorts of his own, when he was brought home by ambulance from MaineGeneral in Augusta to his parents’ house in New Vineyard.

“(Friends and community members) all gathered out here in the driveway and watched him come home. And a friend from the Fire Department followed him in with the squad truck, with the sirens on, lights flashing. It was a quite a welcoming home thing,” Teresa Moody said.

For McDowell and the rest of the NASCAR drivers, their seasons are just getting started. For Moody, however, the story is different.

He left the hospital after deciding against surgery to remove a tumor — just the latest in a long journey of illness that has become terminal. Moody, a 34-year-old Mt. Blue High School graduate, is being cared for by Beacon Hospice Care.

“He’s in a lot of pain. He’s been trying to control that,” Teresa Moody said. “Not good, really.”

Teresa Moody said Ricky is on continual morphine.

Community members welcome home Ricky Moody to his home in New Vineyard. Submitted photo

“We just try to keep him as comfortable as we can,” she said. “He’s very uncomfortable because the pain and everything has progressed so far that there’s absolutely nothing more that they can do. It’s one day at a time.”

Teresa Moody praised Beacon for the care.

“They are truly amazing people,” she said. “They are. They are so caring and just so kind. And you know that they truly, truly care. And not only for Rick, but for Richard and I also. They’re great. They really are.”

Family friend Charlene McGraw said Ricky had been hoping to make it until the Daytona 500. He is a big racing fan, and he goes by the nickname “Fordman” for his love of Ford cars. She said last week that she wasn’t sure if he would make it until the race that started Sunday afternoon.

Since arriving home, Moody has been treated to a hero’s welcome. Farmington Ford donated commemorative license plates and posters, as well as a collage of Ford pictures. Hospice workers and nurses made a collage quilt and an American flag blanket for him. And he was recently front and center for what Teresa Moody called “a burnout smoke show, with squealing tires and everything,” put on by Ricky’s friends in front of the family’s house.

“His dad and I moved his bedroom into the living room, so he could look out the window and everything a while ago. And so he was able to lay there and enjoy that,” Teresa Moody said.

“He’s had a lot of his friends visit him. We’ve kind of put a limit on it now, just because it’s too much for him,” she added. “He has to rest. But he’s enjoyed it.”

A collage quilt of memorable photos given to Ricky Moody. Submitted photo

Teresa Moody said the family is appreciative of all the support they’ve received from friends, community members, and even people they don’t even know.

“There are so many very good people. You hear so many bad things all the time, that you remember that there is still a lot of good,” she said.

Ricky Moody has also relied on his faith while battling terminal illness.

“You know, he knows that he has a better place waiting for him,” his mother said. “He’s endured a lot over the last 14 years, especially this last year. It’s been just a real rough year for him. He’s had so much pain. He’s a very strong person, always has been, and always finds the positive in everything. And that’s what we try to do. Some days it’s easier than others.”

“Every day that he’s here is a blessing,” she said. “Ultimately it’s all in God’s time. It’s still tough to watch him be in so much pain. Richard and I just feel so helpless because you just want to make it all go away and you can’t.”

Ricky Moody’s battle with illnesses has been an inspiration to not only his family, but also the community, McGraw said.

“It’s really, truly amazing that he’s always had that drive,” Teresa Moody said. “He’s kept us going through all of this, that’s for sure.”

Ricky’s mother said he wants to leave a legacy of staying positive and never giving up. She said he would call negative news during his treatment “just a little bump in the road.”

They were nothing to a man who finds thrill in cars screaming across pavement at speeds of nearly 200 mph.

Teresa Moody said her son wants to be remembered “that he’s Ricky ‘Fordman’ Moody, and that’s what he always says.

“And, you know, he always tells us lots of times that God only gives his toughest soldiers the toughest battles,” she said. “I don’t know how many times he’s said that. And he’s just always keeps a smile on your face, and he truly has.”

“Every day that he’s here is a good day,” she added.

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