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Friday, May 13, 2011

A Goodbye

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On April 19th our family said goodbye to my grandfather, Al Kennedy.  I’ve been thinking and thinking about this post and how to express what a great person my Grandfather was.  The grandparent relationship is so special and I think most people think their grandparents are the best.  I have so many fun memories of the things I did with my Grandfather (who we called Papaw).  I knew he was a great leader of our family and I knew he was very generous to us- giving of his time, love and money when needed.  As we all gathered in the small east Texas town where both of my parents grew up, my respect for my Papaw grew even more. 

This small town, population 3,000 something, is where I lived until I was 6 years old.  From the time I moved away until I graduated from high school, I spent many weeks each summer with my grandparents.  Since my parents also grew up in this town, most people who live there know who I am.  I can’t say the same…I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “Hi…Alexis, wow…I haven’t seen you since you were this big (and they put their hand down to their knee).”  All the while I just smile and nod and as they move on, ask my mom, yet again, who the nice people were.  Small town living, small town love.  No fewer than 10 people stopped us at various times during our stay in town and told us how much they loved and respected my Papaw.  We were told countless stories of how he helped members of the community and never told anyone about it.  He was so generous and so well respected in the community, his church, his business relationships and every other aspect of life but not in a “Ooooo, look at me and all the good things I am doing way.”  My Papaw was a quiet man, always smiling, told the best stories and loved to eat.  He loved his family, his community, his church, and most importantly, his Savior.  One of the things I remember most is how every time he prayed, tears welled up in his eyes and he got choked up.  I’m not kidding- every single time- even when it was a prayer of thanksgiving for the meal we were about to enjoy.  One of my favorite quotes from the pastor who did his funeral was, “Al Kennedy didn’t say much, but when he did, everyone listened.” 

A great man and a great life.  We will miss him.

My cousin, Katie, wrote the following about my Papaw (who is her uncle…long story).  I would send you over to read it on her blog yourself because she is a pretty awesome person, but her blog is private so you just have to read it here.  Thanks for letting me steal this Katie (without asking!) I think you did an amazing job summing up who Al Kennedy was. 

Looking back, the way Al cared for me and our entire family was so typical of who he was as a person. Generous, loving, and always laughing . . . I don't know that there was a single person in their small East Texas town who didn't know and respect my Uncle Al.
While moments like this can't help but remind me of the perpetually and inevitably changing world, I will remember Al as so much more than just a figure in my life, or his passing as a marker in my adulthood. Al wasn't just a man who sat idly by as the world changed around him, but was a man who in his own subtle ways, changed the world. I am so grateful for the legacy of his life, and am blessed to count myself as part of his heritage.

1 Hear my cry, O God;

   listen to my prayer.

2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
   I call as my heart grows faint;
   lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For you have been my refuge,
   a strong tower against the foe.

4 I long to dwell in your tent forever
   and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.[b]

5 For you, God, have heard my vows;
   you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Psalm 61:1-5

3 comments:

Kip said...

I miss your Papaw too. Remember when we were staying at your parent's house when your grandparents were there a couple of years back? I stuck my head out the bathroom door after I got out of the shower and yelled "AL! Can you bring me a towel?" "Sure" came the reply from an unexpected voice :)

Oops - wrong Al!

Beth said...

Awww, you brought a tear to my eye, and I didn't even know your Papaw! :) Beautiful post, "Al."

Jerry said...

Thanks Alexis. Very well said.