1.18.2014

She Got Her Standing Ovation

I haven't blogged much this week because I've been so busy running away from the grief and great sadness that I feel over losing one of our long-time administrators, Eunice Myrlene Kennedy. In fact, I haven't known Friendswood ISD without Dr. K and there's been this lost, numb feeling inside since last Sunday afternoon when I heard the news that she'd completed her earthly journey and had gone to sing with the heavenly choir.

Don't get me wrong; it's not like she was my best friend. In fact, if I'm totally honest, she kind of scared me. When I think back to the one time she evaluated me in my Spanish class in the late 80s, I left her office in tears. Not happy tears, either. Terrified tears. But I will never forget what she said: Yeah, you're good, but you could be better. That was not what I wanted to hear, but it was good for me to be sure. She saw something greater in a rookie like me and she wasn't afraid to help me cultivate it.

Dr. Kennedy was in her 55th year in our district. Yep, she started working here before many of us were even born. Just think about how many rookies like me she helped! When she came to town, some of the students were still riding horses down a dirt road to school. She started a a physical education teacher and coached girls' basketball for nine years. During that time, her team only lost one district game. It's not that she told them she had to win; it was the opposite, actually. She worked them hard so that they would not fail. For Dr. K, it was all about best effort.

In 1969, she decided that Friendswood High School should have an all-school musical. Year by year she added to her dream with a choreographer, a pit band, a stage manager and scholarships. Our Jacob got the Piano Lady scholarship just last year for playing trumpet in Guys and Dolls, his third musical. In all, she produced and directed 45 musicals. This fall, she helped cast what would have been her 46th. She challenged and stretched students from all walks of life to get on that stage (or help behind the scenes) and give it their all. And when the curtain rose to a sold-out house, for 45 years, Dr. Kennedy would quietly take her seat in the front row and bask in the fruits of her labor. She thrived on those applause,
 for the kids and their best effort.

Yesterday at Dr. K's service of life celebration sixty of Dr. Kennedy's stars came back to sing for her one last time. It was an angelic choir or Musical Cast Alumni that sang How Great Thou Art, The Benediction, and the Hallelujah Chorus in beautiful harmony for their role model, mentor, teacher, coach, principal, counselor, and friend. In harmony. With love. 

Both older children were blessed to play in the pit band for Myrlene's Musicals. Dr. K even came to Kaitlyn's graduation party two and half years ago. Makes me wonder how many parties, weddings, baptisms, funerals and other celebrations she attended in her 78 years of life. Though she never had biological children of her own, she had more kids can any of us could ever count on her mind and in her heart. And she knew them all by name. Dr. K always did what's best for kids.


Dr. Kennedy was a no-nonsense woman of integrity and depth. She knew what she wanted and she went after it and got it. If you knew her, you'd agree that you pretty much said yes if she asked told you to do something. 

The church was packed yesterday to say good bye and thank you to this amazing behind-the-scenes director and we all laughed in unison when we were told that she'd written her own obituary. Because it didn't surprise us. Even as she faced death, Dr. K was working. She summoned people to her hospital bed as if it were her office as she took care of details like planning her funeral, inviting men whom she admired to be her pall bearers, and giving her last-minute revisions for her final musical. A beautiful ending to an award-winning production, her life well-lived. Surely her influence is farther reaching than anyone will ever know.

So when the Pastor took the pulpit and gave us the permission we were waiting for, we gave her a well-deserved standing ovation and thunderous applause with gratitude and appreciation for her influence and love.

Last Monday night, just a day after the lights went down on Myrlene's final act, the FISD School Board voted to name the auditorium where Dr. K spent so many, many hours of her life The Myrlene Kennedy Auditorium in her honor. 

Her legacy of love and loyalty continues ...








4 comments:

  1. This is beautiful. I love that the audience gave her a standing ovation. That's the kind of send off we should all strive for.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Tammy. I don't think I truly started grieving until she got her standing ovation and I realized it was her final one here on earth.

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  2. What an amazing woman! She touched so many lives and made such a difference in you district. Hugs to you all

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  3. There should be more Dr Kennedys in the world. I think you may be right up there. Thanks for sharing.

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