What is a Hero?
A Hero is defined as; A person, typically a man, who is admired for courage or noble qualities.
My hero is one who is admired not only for his courage or noble qualities, but also for his selflessness, understanding, and love. My hero is my father, Ralph Kennedy. My dad has always tried to raise me up right; all my redeeming qualities can be directly attributed to my father. He has taught me everything I know from working in the yard to fixing a proper martini. I love my dad so much and I could write for hours on hours of the lessons he has taught me, his love, his sacrifices, and countless other things but it all comes down to the fact that dad leads by example. He practices what he preaches and he always conducts himself with the utmost integrity.
Dad is a hard worker. He opened his own law firm over 15 years ago and he works hard to serve his clients with 100%. Even when he is losing money he works to provide the service every person deserves. It’s funny because sometimes Dad is paid in many different ways. We live in the small town of Batesburg-Leesville and not everyone can afford legal work. Dad tries to do legal work for everyone who needs his help so there have been numerous times that he has been paid with chicken eggs, vegetables, and small construction jobs.
Dad stands up for what he believes. He doesn’t compromise his values and beliefs to make more money or be more popular. (refer to an earlier blog post on his stance on school prayer.)
One thing about my Dad that I do not yet understand is how understanding and gracious he is. The most recent example of this occurred this summer. My father was in the middle of a heated primary race. Dad runs a small firm and he had two attorneys working with him keeping the practice going while he was campaigning. Money was tight because he had been concentrating on the campaign and the cases he was expecting to cover payroll had not settled yet. One of the attorneys who worked with Dad was the office manager and Dad had just informed him that after the campaign ended he would make him a partner. (we will call him Bob in this post) Suddenly, my grandfather, Dad’s father got sick and had to be hospitalized for a week. Once my grandfather came home, my grandmother, Dad’s mother got very sick and had to be hospitalized. (She passed away about a month later.) Bob took this opportunity when Dad was taking care of his sick parents and left the firm. He knew that Dad did not have the time to worry about cases because of his parents and he knew Dad’s hands were tied because he didn’t want any negative press before the election. At this time, Bob stole the cases the firm had been working on for a few years and settled them. Dad never took action against Bob saying, “Son, Bob is a good man, he must desperately need the money for him to act like this. Just pray about it and be thankful that we have been blessed with so much and a strong loving family to help us through these tuff times.”
Like any employer does when an employee quits their job, Dad canceled Bob’s phone plan and removed him from insurance account. Bob then came to Dad’s office and yelled and cursed at him because he had been removed from the insurance. Once Bob was finished with his little tantrum he begged my father to keep him on until he could start a firm of his own. After being lied to, cheated, and robbed Dad agreed to add Bob back to the insurance and reactivate his phone so that he could continue to work. Bob was supposed to pay Dad back when he was able. (Bob’s wife has lots of medical bills, cosmetic and serious, so they would not qualify for health insurance on their own. Bob also has 4 children which my family has helped support over the years. Dad could not with a good conscience treat Bob the way he should have been treated.)
I kept thinking why is Dad letting Bob take advantage of him? And why is Dad helping him start his own competitive firm? I just didn’t understand. Dad could have crushed him in the beginning through many avenues. He could have told people what Bob had done. He could have contested the settlements so that Bob had no cash flow. He could have done a number of things to crush that thief and soon to be competitor but he didn’t, he helped him survive. It turns out Dad had noticed Bob acting a little strange and he also knew that Robert has some conditions in his family’s history. Over the weeks leading up to Bob’s exit, Bob had quit all of the organizations and groups in which he was a member. He even quit taking his family to church. Bob was not acting himself and Dad was concerned that a combination of all those stresses could lead to a terrible decision. Because of this concern, Dad tried to be as understanding and accommodating to Bob so that his family could hopefully recover. Since that time Bob has brought Dad his portion of the settlements and he has started back going to church.
Dad had a lot of lessons he was trying to teach me through this situation. He always tells me that I should never “go off half cocked.” Before making a tough decision I should take counsel of my prayers and try to get a better understanding of contributing factors. He likes to remind me that, “the right way is not usually the easy way.” My question was, “how is letting someone take advantage of you the right way?” He answered that my question was only from one perspective; a selfish perspective that only considered what was happening to me but not what was happening to Bob and his family. He said he never let Bob take advantage of him but he evaluated the possible cause and effects of his actions. He said, “Son, we’ve been blessed with so much and sometimes you just have to suck it up and turn the other cheek if that’s the right thing to do. Just have faith that God will watch over you and he will make it right when he intends. Son, the amount from the settlements was large but it was of no consequence in respect to the big picture. “
This is just one tiny example of the kind of man my father is. I pray that one day I can live up to his expectations and his example.