August 05, 2016

A few months ago, I joined this family for a celebration of their younger son’s high school graduation. Why a photographer?

Because this was likely to be one of the last (if not the last) celebration where grandma was present to celebrate. The atmosphere was full of laughter and I felt like part of the family. We celebrated Cole as he heads to college and we celebrated being with Sally.

Sally passed away this week surrounded by friends and family. Although I’ve mostly been communicating with her daughter Adele, her son Jack wrote the most beautiful tribute on Facebook and shared photos of their mother. Rest now, sweet Sally.
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The sweetest soul I’ve ever known took her radiant light into another room early this morning, passing after a brief illness. Everybody – everybody – loved Sally Kenny. Best Mom ever. She was born Sagilla (Saheeya) Chediak, on a farm in Guantanamo, Cuba in 1932. She met Jack, an American sailor, in 1955, and fell in love. She was a housewife and a mother – and she excelled in both her fields.

It’s an old-fashioned concept, but she was the best product of her times… And she blessed me with vivid, joyful memories of being at home with her when I was 2 or 3… playing with tinker toys, or helping her bake cookies or make Christmas ornaments, or riding the bus to downtown. Later, she was always there to kiss my boo-boos when I came home crying, or teach me how to swim or ride a bike, or help make lemonade to sell at our stand in the summer. She was there every day when I came home from elementary school for lunch, cooking a hamburger while I plopped down in front of Underdog or I Love Lucy reruns. She was there when I’d race home from high school between class and rehearsals, making sure I ate a good meal and did my homework.

She was there for her brother, when he came to live with us from Cuba to become a doctor. She was there for her sister’s family, when they got out of Cuba, and came to live with us. She was there for her parents and sister, when they got out a year later to live with us. She was there for Michael, to be his mother when he lost his own so many years ago… She was always there… taking care of us all… my Sister, my Dad… When we lost Dad in 1987, she was lost for a while… but then, Adele & Chris gave her grandsons… and they gave her a new purpose… two more who needed her to take care of them… to teach them by example how to be generous and sweet and loving and funny and live life with an open heart and a gentle spirit – like she did. Always smiling… Always ready with a hug and a kiss… Always there with a baby blanket, or a scarf, or a bracelet that she made… Always there… but now she’s not… except in our hearts.

Rest now, sweet Sally… Your last grandson is off to college, and your beautiful work is done, and done beautifully. Your spirit of love will live on in every life you’ve touched…

Duérmete mi niña, duérmete mi amor…
Duérmete pedazo de mi corazón…

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