My own father died twenty years ago; my husband’s father died five years ago. But there is still another man in my life who is a father – the man who is the father of my two sons.
I have known Jim Kenney for about 35 years, and been married to him for almost 31 of those years. Is he a perfect man? A perfect husband? He himself will agree that he is not. But let me tell you some of the good stuff about him.
He is a hard worker. He works hard while he’s at his paying job, and when
he’s home, he’s almost always working on some project or another. Right now it’s his tractor – an old Ford 800 series jobber that he is refurbishing. It’s taken a lot of his time and energy – but boy! is it going to look sharp when he’s all done!
He is painstaking and thorough to a fault. He wants to get the job done right. So it may take him longer than it would take other people – but when it’s done, it’s DONE.
He is faithful. In all our years of marriage, he hasn’t ever run off with his paycheck to drink it away or spend it on totally frivolous things. He comes home every night (except for the very few times when his job has sent him elsewhere). He hasn’t abandoned me for some other, younger, prettier, less obstreperous woman. When he makes a commitment, he does all he can to fulfill that commitment, however hard it turns out to be.
He is loving. He’s maybe not the most romantic guy on the block – but then, true love isn’t just a pretty feeling, it’s an ACTION. He has done much over the years to SHOW that he loves me and is committed to our marriage. He loves his sons, and his grandson. Best and most important of all, he loves God and lives his life to serve HIM.
He is bright and articulate. He keeps popping out odd bits of information that astound me with their revelation of the breadth and depth of his knowledge. He can talk about this knowledge with both passion and precision. He uses this skill in many ways, from writing installation manuals at work that real people can read and understand, to being our church secretary for the past couple of decades or so, to writing letters to politicians and editors and anybody in between, to his work on the local zoning board of appeals.
He is friendly. Okay, so sometimes this trait drives me up a wall – such as when he runs into the local store to pick up ONE THING, and the rest of us are waiting in the car, and it takes him a HALF HOUR, not because of the lines at the cash register, but because he started talking to someone and lost track of the time. Not even necessarily someone he knows, either; he’ll talk for an hour or more to perfect strangers. But then again, friendliness is a wonderful trait; this world needs more friendly people, who care enough about others, even strangers, to give them time and attention.
He is a jack of all trades. Seriously. He knows a fair amount about plumbing – electrical – construction – gardening and farming – mechanics – computers – electronics… Some days it seems like there’s nothing he can’t do. There are limits to his expertise, of course, but he is an extraordinarily helpful man to have about the house.
And that’s another thing – he’s helpful. Not just around our house, but to all manner of people. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times he’s gone off to help a neighbor or friend or family member shift furniture, or fix a leaking pipe, or replace a water heater, or chase a bat out of the house, or whatever. Sometimes, yes, he’ll get paid for his trouble; more often, he does not. He’s just a very helpful guy.
He is steady. When things go awry, as things are apt to do, he doesn’t have a screaming snit or burst into tears (like his wife). He steps back, ponders the situation, looks to see what he might do better, and then wades right back in. Oh, he’ll have those occasional moments when he might get really upset and go off the deep end – but I could probably count on one hand the number of times THAT has happened in the past 30+ years. As keels go, his is an incredibly even one.
He loves God. That alone encompasses a whole lot of other qualities, but just a few for now: strongly moral character, compassion for others, a desire to see the best in others rather than their faults. And all this because he loves God and has, for the past almost-forty years, been letting God mold him and shape him into a true light for Christ in this dark world. Indeed, all the previously listed characteristics ultimately stem from this one. If not for his love of God, he wouldn’t love me, and we would’ve been divorced a long time ago; he wouldn’t be nearly as faithful, steady, and hard-working as he is now.
This is the father of my two sons, who are both becoming a lot like him, in the best ways. This is the man whom I don’t praise often enough, and who is the best man I could have ever married. This is the man whom I love. This is the father of my two sons.