Good morning. Thank you Father Tom, and all of the celebrants here with us today at the Church of the Sacred Heart. We know many of you traveled far and wide to be with us today. On behalf of all of the Kenny’s, I want to thank you for being here to bid farewell to my Dad, Andrew, whom we loved deeply. I suspect all of you here loved him too, or else you loved someone who loved him. So thank you. It is a true pleasure to be in the midst of this amazing community of friends and family. A community built over a lifetime.
My Dad was a complex guy. To some of you here, he was Andy, the buddy, the pal, the jokester. One bit of trivia about my Dad that you may or may not know. He was voted “class clown” in high school. He was proud of that fact and, damn it, so am I.
He was an entertainer. A fun-loving chatter-upper. He was always there with a story. An opinion. A gem of wisdom. The guy loved to talk. It didn’t take a whole lot for him to find commonality with a stranger. Anywhere he went, any place there was someone with a willing ear, my Dad would be chattin. You breathe air? Well, what do you know, so do I! No kidding!
He was also pretty serious. Serious about things like business, the free market, the New York Giants, and of course St. John’s basketball. He always made it all sound so simple. And if you didn’t agree, well then … you were a moron. There was an assurance that came from being around him. I always felt safe. My Dad could handle anything. He was a rock. My rock, our rock. A lot of people’s rock.
The other thing my Dad was serious about was his family. Nothing gave him more joy than to spend time with my Mom, my brothers and me. We were always … always … his number one priority, and he let us know it. Together with my Mom, he taught us to work hard, to be honest, and to be kind. There were no shortcuts, no quitters and no whiners on his watch.
He taught us to swim … then ride bikes … then drive. He coached football, basketball, even soccer, a game he admitted to not really understanding. He taught us a lot of witty sayings like, “Hey kid, go play in traffic.” But most of all, he taught us to love, honor and take care of each other. That is about the most valuable thing anyone can teach a child.
My Dad took great joy in his extended family as well. Those who’d adopted him as a brother. Or in some cases, a father figure. Technically, my Dad was an only child, but over the course of a lifetime, through friendship and marriage, he accumulated so many brothers and sisters.
And of course all the children. Nieces, nephews, cousins, godchildren, and his adorable grandson, Liam Andrew, who lovingly called him “Pee Paw.” Babies, teenagers – it didn’t matter. My Dad loved kids. They loved him too. He could seem a little intimidating at first glance. But it quickly became clear to everyone around him that Andy was a gentle giant.
Now, no matter how you knew him, it was no secret my Dad was proud of where he came from. From his humble beginnings as the only son of John and Mary Kenny, playing stickball and making trouble on the mean streets of Washington Heights … to his joyful summers and weekends as a teen hanging out with the Connors family in Bergen County New Jersey … to his fun yet industrious college years at St. John’s University, when he busted his butt to put himself through school so he could have a better life.
And of course he was oh so proud of his ancestry … tracing back to Ireland. For those of you who have visited the Kenny household, you’ve noticed the Irish motif. We had the opportunity to travel there as a family in 2000 and experience the homeland together. My Dad was in his glory. For once he could wear his hulking Irish sweater, plaid pants, and tassled cap without looking like a complete freak.
You know, I used to think it was corny when he busted out those old Clancy brothers albums every time we had company on the holidays, but now that I’m older I appreciate why he was so proud of where he came from. The Irish are a people known for their tenacity — The fightin’ Irish. Dad sure was a fighter, as he proved in his brave struggle against disease, beating many, many odds.
And, of course, the Irish are known for their loyalty. And there wasn’t a truer man than my Dad. But most of all, the Irish are known for their hearts and smiles. His, we shall never forget.
My Dad wore a Claddagh ring … all the Kenny’s wear them in fact. The symbol shows two hands joined together to support a single heart, and upon it a crown. Its motto is ‘let love and friendship reign’. For love, we wear the heart. In friendship, we wear the hands. And, in loyalty and lasting fidelity: we wear the crown. Love, friendship and loyalty.
Those three words pretty much sum up everything we want to say and remember about my Dad. He was a wonderful father and a very good man. He will be missed.