Last Friday, my life was to change forever – my mentor, friend and father Kevin Kelly Snr died suddenly. My immediate reaction was to send a text to my wife which read “My Daddy has died – I can’t believe it.” His death had stripped away everything and brought me back to when I was a chld.
At 83 years of age if Dad was to design a perfect ending; this would be it.
That day he got up early and completed his normal tasks – morning mass followed by a trip to the wholesalers to get some merchandise. Then into his car and back to the shop/petrol station which he and my mother Mary had run successfully since the sixties.
On his return, he worked in the shop for a few hours before walking up to his house next door to light the fire, and relax for the evening. My mother who a few months previous had a second hip operation, decided herself to go down to the shop for a few hours that day.
When she made her way back to the house that evening with Sean, my sister’s partner; she found my Dad distraught on the floor – he had just had a very serious fall. His last words were “Mother, Mother, Mother.”
That night in the company of all his family, my Dad slipped away gracefully to his eternal reward – his last breath was an inaudible whisper to God.
If there was to be a perfect ending to an amazing life – this was it. He had just completed a day’s work – my Dad was a very grounded entrepreneur so work played a major part in his life. He was surrounded by his family – family came first with Daddy, and on this very rare occasion everyone was there to say their goodbyes. He slipped away without a struggle – I know the last thing my Dad wanted was a protracted illness. Subsequently we were to learn from the thousands that attended the wake and burial that it appears that everyone had spotted him somewhere that week – it was almost like he had done a farewell tour.
The perfect death for a very spiritual man – was this the just reward for his life?
I learned so much from my Dad, some lessons I have managed to integrate – others I have struggled with; but one lesson in particular stands out – the importance of honesty.
Over 25/30 years ago our petrol station/shop was a major landmark on the Dublin to Knock road in Ireland and every Sunday we would welcome a bus or two to our forecourt which generated a lot of income/profit for the business. On one occasion a bus driver requested a blank receipt for his thirty pounds of diesel. (Clearly the attention was to put in a higher amount and get the cash back from the bus owner.) My father refused to honour his request. Even after the bus driver warned him you will never see another bus on the forecourt as his intention was to tell all his friends in the car park in Knock what had happened – my Dad refused. From that day for the next few years no bus appeared on a Sunday but my Dad didn’t care – honesty and principle was more important than money. Under no circumstances would he help someone else to “steal from others.”
Though honesty and integrity can be a difficult choice; I will always honour my Dad’s teaching on this subject.
And finally my Dad would often talk to me about attending funerals –“if only people would be there for you when you are alive – wouldn’t that be so much better,” he would say. For me this is a fitting conclusion to his life and his teachings. The challenge is to celebrate life NOW, to celebrate people’s talent NOW, to tell them how you feel NOW….tomorrow may be just too late.
Thank you Daddy for being an amazing teacher – may you dance in the heavens.
PS Can I say a very heartfelt thanks to all the people who have helped my family Mary my mother, John my brother, Dette, Anne and Clare, my sisters and all our extended family through these challenging days.