I was adopted at 3 days of age by a middle class family who already had a little girl. They found out they could not have any more kids of their own yet they wanted a boy to complete their family so in 1969 they contacted an attorney and the wheels were set in motion to legally adopt the first available boy.
On January 25th I was born and on January 28th I was adopted by Allen and Carolyn Kenney in Sunbury, Ohio.
I was raised in Florida the first few years of my life but Mom and Dad worked hard to put the money together and and in the early 80s we moved back to Ohio as they purchased an NAPA Auto Parts store on the square in Sunbury. A few years later they purchased a true Value Hardware store and ran a hybrid of both stores for many years.
The economy began to slip and they ended up selling the stores and going into business working from their home as Kenney Painting. Mom and Dad worked very closely together for decades and moved from Sunbury to Westerville and eventually back to Sunbury and then down to Florida again. As Mom's dementia worsened and the end became painfully unavoidable they moved back here to Ohio.
The Big Family Secret
Roughly 20 years ago, my sister Kim became jealous of me and decided that she didn’t want me in her life any longer letting it be known she didn’t want mom or dad to have anything to do with me either. She went so far as to misquote me from a certain Facebook post to make me sound like I was attacking Mom and Dad who of course asked me about it. When I shared copies of the posts in question, it was obvious that Kim had lied and was just trying to create division in the family. Mom and Dad were disappointed in Kim and obviously felt trapped in the middle of a sibling rivalry and they didn’t know exactly what to do.
As I prayed, I felt I had a Word of Wisdom so I suggested a solution that Mom, Dad and I all three agreed upon. They would lead Kim (and if necessary anyone who sided with her) to believe that they were upset and/or not having anything to do with me to preserve their relationship with her and they would keep their relationship with me secret, hidden away from Kim and more private in general.
This made sense for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that Kim lived very close and I lived the better part of an hour away so it would be an easy thing to pull off and relatively a small price to pay to keep both the relationship with their daughter and their relationship with their son in tact.
In short, we all agreed to let Kim believe she was successful at ostracizing me when she really wasn't. I was willing to fall back and be painted as the bad guy in the name of keeping the larger peace. I promised them that I would keep this secret until both of them were in Heaven and I have done just that.
The Beautiful Passing
When Mom was in her final days, she couldn't talk or move on her own. She could barely turn her head but I sat with her holding her hand as she sat perfectly still, sometimes with eyes open, sometimes asleep. When it was time to go I leaned over to her, kissed her cheek and said "Mom, it's Mark, I love you and our secret is still safe". She cracked the smallest of smiles as her tired eyes met mine one last time and just as quickly she slipped back into her detached from reality state.
Dad shared with me that later that night Mom broke her normal motionless routine by rolling over, hugging him and saying "Allen, I Love You". Just as quickly she again slid back into non-responsiveness and a few hours later she was gone.
Dad and I would talk in person and on the phone for hours on end about all sorts of things. We prayed together. The boys and I visited dad several times always being careful to call or text ahead to make sure that no one else was going to be over and “catch us” actually visiting. Dad always hugged us, he always told each of us he loved us. I have pages and pages of text messages back-and-forth with Dad and I including pictures and all sorts of wonderful memories that I will treasure forever.
After Mom's passing Dad struggled but he also had a plan that very few people knew about. He was going to return to Florida because he had met someone special along the way that began to bring him joy and happiness once again. I won’t name her out of respect for her privacy but she is an absolute angel who brought dad so much Joy and Peace over these last few months. I remember commenting to the kids at how their grandfather sounded like he was in High School again with such joy in his voice. It was another relationship that Dad kept close to the vest to not upset Kim because she didn't approve of the idea that he could see anyone that close after Mom had passed... but of course he told me about it and Dad invited her to move in with him in Florida and she did. They were truly happy until earlier this month Dad began to have trouble breathing. The hospital said he had some issues and they also diagnosed him with Covid.
The hospital told me he was in poor condition and they didn't expect him to make it but they were treating him, though recovery was unlikely. We all started to pray here but a bit later they called back and my sister who had power of attorney told the hospital to stop treatment and to just try to make him comfortable. Within another few hours he was gone.
Kim certainly didn't do anything illegal, and to be clear, Dad said multiple times over the years he did not want to be kept alive artificially but people were still praying and he had not died yet...so if it were me, I would have waited longer but that was not my decision to make.
Dad, thank you for coming after me in 1970. Thank you for bringing me into your home and treating me like I was your own. Thank you for every life lesson, thank you for every precious memory, thank you for every powerful example and thank you perhaps more than anything else for being a father to the fatherless... because I was that fatherless child and partially because of your unselfish sacrifices, I now have a hand in helping others heal.
Dad, you offered yourself to God and God accepted that offer and used you in ways you may only now be starting to understand.
I love you, dad... hug mom for me, and tell Grandpa Cliff I miss him too.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.