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.