Tribute to Michael Francis McKenna
By: Kelly McKenna

It has now been a week since my dad has been gone. These past 3 years have been very challenging and hard. I can remember the day that my mom had come home and told me that it was possible that Dad had Lou Gehrig's Disease. I couldn't and didn't want to believe it. And now 3 years later, he has gone before us.

Let me describe my dad the way that many have. Stubborn, opinionated, loud, interesting, different, argumentative, confrontational, caring, loving, tender, helpful, giving, full of colorful language and the list could go on and on.

As my family and I planned his services, we dug up the many stories that we had been privy to over the years. Most of the stories had to do with how he stuck his neck out for someone else in some way to help them through some experience or situation. Dad lived by the song that linked him to Muscular Dystrophy (a cause that he had supported since he was a teenager) to his love of Drum and Bugle Corps. This song is called "You'll Never Walk Alone" by Rogers and Hammerstein. I don't know if you knew this but Jerry Lewis sings it every year on the MDA Telethon. When my parents started dating back in the late 60's early 70's, my mom can remember him asking everyone if they had donated to MDA. In the early 60's he marched with the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle corps. This was also their corps song. This was a very strange coincidence. Every time I hear the music and words it makes me cry. The words are as follows:

"When you walk through a storm,
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm,
There's a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain
Though your dream be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on,
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone."


Push Play for:
"Never Walk Alone"

Dad knew that when someone was in need that he would be there to help him or her in some way. His service to the community started when he was a teenager. At this time in his life he worked at Central Colony with handicap people. As he got older he continued to be caring with others and be a good friend to them. He would go to any lengths to help out a friend in need. One case happened when he had a friend that was fired from a job and was stuck in a dead end town in Michigan with no money or vehicle to move herself from point A to B. He told that friend to pack her bags cause he was coming to get her. He felt pretty good about that. That person stayed in our home with our entire family for 2 years while she got back on her feet. At the funeral, this person was ever so thankful for everything that Dad did. She said that she had no doubt that if she would have stayed in Michigan she would have not been able to start over. He made all the difference.

This story relates to the common good for me. The reason being is that now she is living on her own, teaching in an Indian Reservation, making a difference in someone else's life. Reminds me of the movie "Pay It Forward". If you haven't seen it you might want to check it out.

My family's journey without our father and husband is now starting. I know that he is in a better place now. All the times that we had fought and argued are now null and void. I am very thankful to have had the time to mend those issues and to let him go in peace.

My family and I were all there that day he took his final breath. It was hard to watch him leave us like he did. After he passed away, we all saw how much the spirit really is who we are. Without the spirit, we have no life, color, or expression.

I miss him and his smile very much. I miss that reaction of what would happen when I would walk in to the room. I miss the fact that I can't call at 1030pm to kick him off the Internet after being on all day so that I could have a chance. I miss calling him some quirky name and getting him to smile or laugh because of it. I miss him so much. He will forever be in my heart

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