Fred Kennedy

When Memory Fails

In the quiet times of day, and often in the middle of the night, I remember my dad. He has been gone for more than 30 years, but I still have conversations with him. I tell him about his grandchildren and share how much I miss him. I imagine what he is doing in heaven (painting or tending a garden, no doubt) and I trust with all my heart that I will see him again one day.

The memories of my father are even more important to me now, especially since my brother and I are the only ones who can recall them. Our mom suffers from dementia and she lost all recollection of our dad, “Freddie” as she called him, a few years ago. I remember so vividly how it felt like a stab to the heart when I was showing her my wedding album one afternoon and she pointed to my dad and asked, “Who is this?” It seemed like all the air was sucked out of the room. When I recovered, I took the time to share all my memories of that special day, always searching her face for a glimmer of recognition. But there was none.

Trying to keep a memory alive when there is no capacity to store them is a painful thing. Sometimes I find myself reaching deep inside my mind to retrieve certain memories,  and the fear of losing those precious moments gives me an overwhelming urgency to share them.  A windy day at the beach. A camping trip in New Hampshire. A favorite board game. A family vacation. We talk about these memories whenever we are all together and we share the stories and pictures and random details that come to mind. For my brother and I, we understand that it may mean nothing to our mother, but for us, it is a crucial bridge in keeping Dad’s legacy alive.

And so, on this and every Father’s Day, Daddy.  you are forever in our memories and buried deep in our hearts.

Fred Kennedy

When the Rain Comes

It’s been one of those strange months where my life perfectly matched the unpredictable weather. At times, May has felt more like March, with seemingly endless wind, rain and cool temperatures. This was unusual for the DC area, and was particularly unwelcome after the warmer weather we enjoyed earlier in the spring. But whatever the cause, the crazy weather mirrored the events in my life.

Confession: I am “that” person who thinks they can do it all, that they can handle every task in life without asking for help. It becomes a point of pride after a while, like a heavy crown that you feel obligated to wear. I don’t want to disappoint anyone (or myself), so I just roll up my sleeves and tackle the earliest looming deadline. Usually the stress doesn’t get to me, but when you find yourself in the ER with chest pains, it may be time to slow down.

Although I did my best to “sneak” into the hospital without anyone knowing, within minutes my pastor was at my bedside. I guess that was okay since he is also a trusted friend (and oh yeah, he’s my boss too 😉). He was there to comfort me and pray with me before they wheeled me in for a chest x-ray. I didn’t feel all the fuss was necessary because I thought I’d have a few tests and head back to my desk with no one else noticing.

I won’t bore you with the details of all that was going on in my life that day; they really aren’t important. It could happen to any one of us, at any time depending on our life situation, but all at once everything seemed to amass into the perfect storm. I felt the tide rising in the form of rolling chest pains. That 24 hours in the hospital seemed like eternity to me, and it was far from restful, but it opened my eyes to what matters most.

As minutes turned into hours, word spread and my phone buzzed with concerned texts and messages of assurance from many people who were praying for me. I felt completely covered by their love, and a sense of calm washed over me. All through the day and that long night I kept thinking about my father who died in 1986 of a massive heart attack a week before his 57th birthday. I knew I was where I needed to be and that I was receiving excellent care.

I am praising God because every test that was run came back normal. I will be having further tests this coming week and following up with my new cardiologist. I wish I could remember the names of all the nurses and doctors in the ER and observation wing who cared for me last week. (There were A LOT!) I am in awe of all they do each and every day.

Although I wanted to return to work the day I was discharged, the doctor insisted I take the remainder of the day off. Heading his advice, I went home and took a much-needed nap. When I awoke, I went downstairs to find a dinner basket that had been dropped off by a group of amazing ladies from our church. It was filled with food and flowers and other treats, and oh so much love!

As I look back at this crazy month (and it’s not over yet) I am reminded of the faithfulness of God as He sees us through every storm. He brings order to chaos, and provides rest for the weary when they need it most. For that, I am truly grateful.