Today is Father’s Day in the US and I want to wish Kevin Tofel, Matt Miller, and all of you who are fathers to have a very special day and enjoy time with your family. I intend to do the same and think back on the impact my own father had on me. He passed away a few years ago and I find it fitting to run this tribute for him as he is in my thoughts this fine day:
Goodbye to a great man
Myfather was one of those people who understood that to achieve greatnesscould only be done through maintaining strength of character in allthat you do. He instilled in his childred the unerring credo that you must always do the right thing. It doesn’tmatter if doing the right thing is difficult, or if doing the rightthing is the popular thing to do. What matters is you always stay trueto your convictions, and your actions must be consistent with yourbeliefs.
My father was a very simple man. Some people might say he was toosimple in this world that is growing ever more complex. But heunderstood that in everything there is a right way and a wrong way todo things and the only option is to do the right thing. He once toldme you build your reputation in the world by always taking the higherground. You build that reputation one positive action at a time andyou are the only one who can tear that reputation down through your ownactions. Not your detractors, not your enemies, only youcan tear your reputation down. He once confided in me that he didn’tunderstand why people didn’t just treat others with respect andcompassion. He was continually confused by this fact so obvious to himbut one that is often not followed by others. It’s a question I cannotanswer, in fact I’m not sure there is an answer.
My father instilled in me a strong work ethic, for working as hardas you can is the only way to have no doubts about yourself at the endof the day. He taught all his children to always help others, for someday we might need help ourselves and good deeds have a way of gettingrepaid when the time is right. He taught us to be strong for thosearound us, but not to be afraid to bend when you have to. He was a manthat others knew they could depend on in their time of need. He taughtus that leading by example was the best way to be true to yourself, andto those around you.
My father lived a hard life, but he took that in stride and did thebest that he could with the cards he was dealt. And in so doing, hetaught us to do the same. Don’t cry about it, fix it was hisphilosophy, and it was a lesson hard learned, as important lessonsoften are. He showed us that when you have troubles, the best courseis often to set your own troubles aside and help those less fortunatethan yourself. Most importantly of all, he taught us that we are notthe most important thing in the world. Instead, the most importantthings were those around us. He lived his life being there for thepeople that needed him, and those who knew and loved him will alwaysthank him for that.
My father always led by example and to those of us fortunate enoughto know him that example was a very good one. He was not a man to getlost in the fluff of life, instead he believed you lay a solidfoundation in the life that you have and then you build on thatfoundation until the structure is a good, strong structure. You buildyour character one deed at a time until the structure defines theperson behind it. And then you open that structure up to your lovedones so that they might be protected by it too.
My father was a great man. He touched everyone around him in such apositive way. He loved his family with a passion that wasunquestioned, and he was proud of each of us in so many ways. He isthe reason that we have become the people we are today, and I thank himfor that. For I can think of no better thing in the world than to bethe legacy of this man. Thank you Dad for all that you’ve done. Thankyou Dad for showing us to always think of others. Thank you Dad forall the examples you set for us. And thank you Dad for being there forme when I needed you. You are so missed but you live on in all thoseyou have touched.
James Grady Kendrick
November 1, 1916 – November 21, 2004