A Spirit To Remember

If we are lucky, we encounter a special spirit in our lives. Someone who provides support, encouragement, knowledge, inspiration and laughter to help enrich our lives and set the course of human example to follow. My father, Richard Stuart Kendig, was a shining star who brightened everyone's lives with his sincere kind heart, jovial nature and positive outlook on life, which positively affected the lives of family and friends alike. 

Words can barely express the positive energy force he had on our family. Through his living example, we learned the qualities of honesty, integrity, humility and compassion. He instilled in us the values of pride in a job well done, strength of character and commitment to family. To his family and friends, we all learned the wonderful, healing and comforting value of humor, laughter and plain old silliness. 

As I reflect on this remarkable man I proudly call my dad, I am left with many questions I still ponder regarding his character and way he lived his life. Questions such as:

* How can anyone resist the temptation to lie so keenly throughout their life like my dad? Regardless of the advantage or self serving opportunity a seemingly harmless lie might provide, my father remained fervent in his avoidance to deceive others.

* How can one constantly come to the aid of others, whether it be in the middle of the night or in sleet and snow, and not be disgruntled, inconvenienced or annoyed? Anyone who received assistance from dad always found a smiling helping hand who put others at ease with their crisis.

* How can a man work so tirelessly to support and provide for his family, yet still maintain the balance needed for quality family time? I still recall our treasured weekend family drives, our regular family vacations and the special trips he would take either my sister or me on for one on one time together. Regardless of his typical 7-day work week, my father always made time for both his friends and family when they needed him most.

* How could someone go through life without ever expressing ill will toward others? Never a hurtful phrase or mean spirited intention did my father ever utter. One has to only reflect on that for a moment to imagine the magnitude of his character.

* How in the world can a father come home from a hard days work, or settle in for a peaceful golf game on TV, and patiently endure the barbaric beating of the drums reverberating throughout the house and neighborhood? Not monthly, not weekly, but daily without mercy. How much does a father love a son to allow this talent to emerge and prosper at the expense of his own well deserved peace?

* How can a man love his wife so unconditionally, with all his heart and soul, and never miss a daily kiss or "I love you" throughout their marriage? Through both good times and trials and tribulations, my father's love and commitment to the woman he loved never wavered. 

* How can a father raise two children and never force his will upon them, always supporting them in all they aspire to do? Even when they fail and stumble, never chastise them or belittle their progress? Regardless of how many times we may have fallen, he always showed my sister and I great empathy, support, encouragement and direction to help us back up and send us once again on a positive path.

The answer to all of these question lies simply in my father's nature to put the needs of others before his own. In fact, his own prayer at family dinners always included the phrase "and let us be mindful of the needs of others". It is this unique character of this special man, son, brother, husband and father that is the legacy he leaves behind for all of us.

Yet the realization of true character comes when we are put to the test. In my father's final days, his strength of character and faith became a lesson for all of us. My dad placed his faith in God and did not fear death. This faith and courage of his allowed him to put everyone around him at peace with his passing. He took time to express to each grieving grandchild his positive outlook on his final journey to be with God and all his family and friends who passed on before him. The children's grief quickly passed as they became at peace with Papa's positive perspective and teachings - a lesson they will surely carry throughout their lives.

His humor, perhaps his most endearing trait, remained as intact as ever. When my mother in a tender moment told my father she would miss his kisses, he replied in typical fashion "you and 50 other women". In another similar moment, my mother was informed that there were no free touches and each one would cost her 50 cents. Whether singing a song of love to my mom, or making one of his standard quips, my father' special brand of humor carried through to his final moments.

My father opened his eyes once before he passed and said to those of us around him, "why am I still here"? He was at peace and prepared for his journey. We were very lucky to witness this example of courage and faith, to share any previously unspoken thoughts or emotions, and bask in his love, which will remain with us all of our days.

Thank you Dad for being the greatest father, enriching our lives, for saving us when we needed you most, for being a true and loyal friend and a positive life force that will live on in our hearts and minds all of our days. I love you Dad, always and forever - Gary.