My father was one of those people who understood that to achieve greatness could only be done through maintaining strength of character in all that you do. He instilled in his children the unerring credo that you must always do the right thing. It doesn’t matter if doing the right thing is difficult, or if doing the right thing is the popular thing to do. What matters is you always stay true to your convictions, and your actions must be consistent with your beliefs.
My father was a very simple man. Some people might say he was too simple in this world that is growing ever more complex. But he understood that in everything there is a right way and a wrong way to do things and the only option is to do the right thing. He once told me you build your reputation in the world by always taking the higher ground. You build that reputation one positive action at a time and you are the only one who can tear that reputation down through your own actions. Not your detractors, not your enemies, only you can tear your reputation down. He once confided in me that he didn’t understand why people didn’t just treat others with respect and compassion. He was continually confused by this fact so obvious to him but one that is often not followed by others. It’s a question I cannot answer, in fact I’m not sure there is an answer.
My father instilled in me a strong work ethic, for working as hard as you can is the only way to have no doubts about yourself at the end of the day. He taught all his children to always help others, for some day we might need help ourselves and good deeds have a way of getting repaid when the time is right. He taught us to be strong for those around us, but not to be afraid to bend when you have to. He was a man that others knew they could depend on in their time of need. He taught us that leading by example was the best way to be true to yourself, and to those around you.
My father lived a hard life, but he took that in stride and did the best that he could with the cards he was dealt. And in so doing, he taught us to do the same. Don’t cry about it, fix it was his philosophy, and it was a lesson hard learned, as important lessons often are. He showed us that when you have troubles, the best course is often to set your own troubles aside and help those less fortunate than yourself. Most importantly of all, he taught us that we are not the most important thing in the world. Instead, the most important things were those around us. He lived his life being there for the people that needed him, and those who knew and loved him will always thank him for that.
My father always led by example and to those of us fortunate enough to know him that example was a very good one. He was not a man to get lost in the fluff of life, instead he believed you lay a solid foundation in the life that you have and then you build on that foundation until the structure is a good, strong structure. You build your character one deed at a time until the structure defines the person behind it. And then you open that structure up to your loved ones so that they might be protected by it too.
My father was a great man. He touched everyone around him in such a positive way. He loved his family with a passion that was unquestioned, and he was proud of each of us in so many ways. He is the reason that we have become the people we are today, and I thank him for that. For I can think of no better thing in the world than to be the legacy of this man. Thank you Dad for all that you’ve done. Thank you Dad for showing us to always think of others. Thank you Dad for all the examples you set for us. And thank you Dad for being there for me when I needed you. You are so missed but you live on in all those you have touched.
James Grady Kendrick
November 1, 1916 – November 21, 2004