Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Few Smiles and Laughts in a Day Full of Tears

A Few Smiles and Laughs in a Day Full of Tears

Kenny and Peg visiting with Pooh!
I know I keep talking about how Disney Parks are a healing place. I’m going to take this post to share something that just happened.

August 3rd my nephew Ken lost his blessedly short battle with cancer. He was 45 years old. Ken was a very special person with a love of people, especially his family, an active life and Disney. He loved to make people laugh and good things happen. An example of his love of family and Disney is what he did when his granddaughter was born. Lilly was just a few days old when proud papa Ken and Grandma Peg were asked to babysit. Ken took Peg and Lilly to Downtown Disney for dinner. Kenny knew that Peg had left her Disneyland pass at home but he had his. He took Lilly and ran into the park and took pictures with his phone. He then text messaged it to family and friends bragging about how he was the first to take Lilly to Disneyland. They just went into the gate and came right back out but that was enough for him to stake that claim. How proud he was of that day and every other time he took her to the park. (My husband and I wonder if Kenny planned for Peg’s pass to be ‘accidently’ left at home. This fits his style of humor.) Lilly is now 3 years old and missing her Papa. Kenny water skied and raced boats. Lilly says Hi to her papa and asks if he is having fun racing his boat in heaven.

Even before Lilly was born there was a long history of visits with family to the park. Not only did he grow up within 15 minutes of the park and go often with his parents, he with often with his grandpa. My dad was old and disabled and wanted to find happiness he would go to Disneyland/ Kenny came and joined him and the rest of the family. Kenny was an active guy but he would sit and watch the Swing Dancers at the Carnation Gardens Stage with his grandpa. Those memories are special to all of us. We also had a family trip to WDW and the Disney Cruise in 2005. Kenny played peace keeper and did all he could to make everybody smile.

Thursday, August 9th was Kenny’s funeral. In truth it was a celebration of his life. People shared their memories of how he made them laugh. We were reminded that if he saw all the sad faces at the service he would look around with his arms outstretched saying “What did I do?” I know he would have pulled some type of joke to get us laughing. He would tell us not to be sad for him.

After hours of sitting in the chapel, graveside and the reception my husband and I were in need of a time of healing and a laugh or two. When everything was done and people left we decided since we were near Disneyland and our passes were with us we would stop by for an hour or two. We wanted to do something Kenny would have enjoyed. We wanted to go listen to some jazz and maybe dance. We went to Disney California Adventure because the Carnation Plaza Garden is no more. Also the Swing Band and Dancers are not there on Thursdays, they are only there on the weekends. We hoped our favorite Jazz band would be a DCA’s Plaza Gardens Band Stand, they were!

The Ellis Island Boys were playing. Ralf is funny and plays washboard. He loves to make people laugh and has been doing so at Disneyland and Disney World for over 30 years in various bands! This band plays 1920 and 30 jazz standards. Many times when they play the swing dancers that usually come on the weekends will come and dance to their music. None of the dancers were there but we got up and danced a couple of songs. The first was too fast for us, we are just learning how to dance the Shag. Ralf noticed we were trying and laughing as we stepped on each other’s feet and offered to play a slower song next.

After listening to the Ellis Island Boys we went and had dinner at Flo’s. How neat it was to sit in Cars Land, an area Kenny had not seen, he got too sick to go just as it opened to go. We knew he would have loved that area as he was into fast cars (anything that moved and the faster the better really) and traveling.

Our couple of hours at Disney helped the healing process. It helped us put into perspective the loss. We can now put some good memories with the sad ones of saying good bye to Kenny. Thank you again Disney and Ellis Island Boys for helping us heal.

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