Monday, July 21, 2014

Goodbye Pop Pop

I’ve been trying to think of a way to word this and speak my mind, so here it goes. Our immediate and extended family recently lost one of our truly great men. My grandfather, Joseph Francis Kenney was the true embodiment of family and at 83 years old, he was my best friend. He was the oldest of four and the last surviving member of his siblings. It’s ironic because I think his sole purpose on Earth was to be a father of four great kids, one being my great mother Patricia. I lived with him for 4 years after my grandmother passed; some of the best years of my life. My close family and friends know that much of my spare time was spent with him just driving around Delco and The Shore, having a simple meal anywhere we could find a booth and talk (Dino’s in Seaville, Denny’s on “The Golden Mile”, and countless conversations about all things Philly and life. The guy loved the simple life. All he ever wanted was a friend to talk to or someone to “shoot the shit” with. He taught me so much about our past. What it was like when JFK was shot, where he was when we landed on the moon, the Catholic Church, and all things in between. Nothing was off the table. 

Told me about the PTC, growing up on 52nd and Stewart St in West Philly, his trips with my mom-mom to Niagara Falls, Florida, and their last Las Vegas, what his “Pappy” was like who had a shot and smoke once a day until he died at 98 (with all his hair he would always add), what The Shore was like before anyone lived there, and how he always wondered about how much concrete it took to build the Manayunk Bridge. Always had a good one-liner. I would be heading out to the gym and he’d say, “Tell Jim I said hi..” Or I’d say, “Take it easy…” He’d reply, “I’ll take it any way I can get it..” Always the ladies man. I usually delete voicemails and recently found tons of his funny messages on my work iPhone. Struck Gold. He fought the good fight the past 8 months. His selflessness expressed even as his body was failing him, he just wanted to get out of the hospital and back down The Shore to have some fun with his kids and grandchildren. He lost the ability to eat on his own early on and I promised him every visit we’d go for Leo’s cheesesteaks and two cold beers. When he lost the ability to speak, I started to learn how to lip read fairly well and he’d tell me how he wanted to leave the hospital so we could get in a two man paddle boat and he would even do the paddle motions and throw out a line from his hospital bed. 

I know many of my friends and family have lost loved ones near and dear to their heart. I wanted to write something so I’ll never forget him. When it all comes down to it, in the end, all we have is our friends and our family and that special bond will stay inside of us forever. I hope that everyone is lucky enough to have someone like my grandfather in their life. I was so fortunate to have him around for 36 years…and someday we’ll get to go fishing again.

Friday, May 30, 2014


The older I get, the more I learn about dealing with loss. Loss can be defined in so many ways. The loss of a loved one or a friend or mentor. The loss of a relationship with a significant other or close friend. The loss of the person you were 5, 10, 15 years ago. The loss of the drive to do the right thing or right wrongs in your life or others. I have dealt with some great losses in the last 3 years. The passing of seven close friends and family members. Each one a bit different, but all just as important as the other. I think of all of those situations and remember how each one of those losses really changed my thoughts on life and relationships. Those thoughts that hit you the moment you've learned of a loved one passing. Like all the memories you shared with them come splashing into your face with such a vibrant and warm wave. I like to think about that way because it leaves content in knowing of all the time they had on Earth, I was able to spend some time with them. I definitely have learned to cherish more relationships the last few years. It's not always a matter of how much time you spend with someone, but rather your conveyance of love and support that they know they can rely on. Those difficult moments in life when you know that a person is truly open to helping and caring for you. None of us is perfect, but I've definitely learned a lot more about unconditional love in regards to family and relationships. That moment in your mind when you think of a person and realize that your life just would not be complete without. I try and take more time telling people that I am really happy they are doing well, making their lives great, creating families, growing their list of friends, or just trying to get by with a little hard work and desire and love in their hearts. Sometimes we ourselves yearn to be a person we were some time ago. Sometimes we're just trying to be a better version of the person we were yesterday. In any case, hold on to life and those relationships you cherish. A memory is still a memory regardless if it's 15 minutes or 15 days long. I am so thankful for those I have passed through life with, but I am also excited about those I will go through the future with. Whoever it is you may have on your mind, a parent, a friend, a wife, a husband, a sibling, or someone that impacted your life in a positive way...reach out to them. Say I love you. In the old days, a man appeared weak for saying that to the people he cared for. I try and say it as often as I can these days as you really never truly know if you will see that person again and it's just a great feeling for them to know they are loved by someone.

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that new world is born. - Anais Nin

Monday, February 17, 2014

Chime in

I hate smartphones and social media. They're like water droppers in a hamster cage. We've become so preoccupied with the actions or lack thereof from "important" people in our lives that we stop living for ourselves and the people and times we really want to have in our life. We start worrying about what we think we should care about and not what really care about. I'd give up so much to get so much more out of the relationships that mean the most to me. They fade, dissipate and we are left wondering what's next? What should I put my energy into next? What do I really want to do and who do I want to bring with me on this next adventure? So much more to life than some can see.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, February 13, 2014

window out

All this snow on the East Coast this week. I read a post from a friend that made a lot of sense. Maybe this is God's way to keep us in, close to our loved ones, close to family, or maybe even just alone to enjoy some time. Slow the process, slow life down to these moments looking out at nature's wrath and realizing the futility of mankind. We are such small pieces in this world and in the universe. A snow storm, to help us realize that we can soon be incapacitated. For families, a time to enjoy your loved ones and talk or play games. A good meal, a warm blanket, a good movie. Moments that can't be recreated or duplicated. It's this day, this week in time, the snow storm of February 2014. Enjoy it, enjoy them, enjoy the view from inside.

And meanwhile in France....