By Nandell Palmer, Special to the Mirror
“It’s a good life!”
If you happened to meet the affable Kennedy Akinlosotu — whether through business or social contact — it will not take you long to hear him repeat that phrase. It’s on his business cards. It’s at the end of every handwritten thank you card that he sends out. And foremost, he finds ways to demonstrate that despite the trials and tribulations that have beset us at one time or another, it is indeed a good life!
Some might argue that “good” is a relative term. But when it comes to this successful real estate broker, I will take him at his word any day. For a man who was orphaned at the age of 10 in his native Nigeria, and who would later emigrate to the United States to realize his American Dream, it is indeed a good life!
Some years ago, a doctor told him that there was nothing else that could be done medically to keep him alive. Therefore, his family should start planning his funeral. Kennedy laughed so hard upon hearing that news, which made the doctor most furious! “Do you speak English? Do you fully comprehend what I’m saying to you?” the doctor asked. But Kennedy laughed even more. Months later, when no trace of the diagnosis was found, the doctor had to reverse his statement. Today, the man who was given up for an early departure, is living his best life.
On Sept. 13, Kennedy marked his 60th birthday. His five children put on an invitation-only diamond jubilee in his honor 10 days later at the Federal Way Community Center among some of his closest family and friends. If you think Texas Large, then super size that tenfold when Nigerians throw a party. Succulent food and drinks galore! The music and dancing were enchanting at best.
The thing that is still tugging away at my heart is, where did his offspring, four of them still in their 20s, find those sentimental qualities so early in life to celebrate their father in such a grand style? Who said that Millennials were selfish? These progeny are the products of the Federal Way school district, thank you. They all boast college degrees and are gainfully employed, except for the youngest who’s still in college. Now, if you asked me, I’m all in with Kennedy to announce to the world, it’s a good life!
At the event, I couldn’t contain myself by the sheer excitement I felt hearing speaker after speaker lauding this one-of-a-kind husband and father. Every speaker spoke glowingly about Kennedy’s universal selflessness. One of his best friends from college, who is ailing, said that recently Kennedy came to his home and got down on his hands and knees, scrubbing his floor. No amount of coaxing could stop him from carrying out that task! I surmised that he wanted to ensure his pal that it is a good life, even on challenging days.
I know firsthand about Kennedy’s servant heart throughout Federal Way and other cities up and down the Puget Sound region. When I did “I Celebrate You,” the sexagenarian and his family lent their full support, ushering, serving food, and cleaning up after each event. He, his wife Doris, and children, dance best when the spotlights are off. His son, Wole, is a force with which to be reckoned as the youth leader crisscrosses America, fostering social change and empowerment.
As I drove home from the celebration that night, I reflected on legacy writ large. I wondered out loud what the conversations were like for other parents and grandparents at the event heading home who couldn’t resist the temptation of comparing and contrasting. I reminded myself of how blessed a father Kennedy has been. Sadly, however, oftentimes the main occasion where loved ones gather on a large scale to offer tributes publicly, is at funerals, when the celebrant cannot hear a word that is uttered.
In an age when people can readily turn to social media to keep them connected, bereft of human contact, Kennedy keeps on being one of those old-school friends who seeks to be closer than a brother. His guests at the gala pretty much represented every continent of the world, which show that real friendships and legacy go beyond one’s country’s flag or pedigree. In fact, his business acumen was built on this foundation, which aptly gave birth to his company, Nations Realty. Real legacy finds a way to convert trials into triumphs. It’s also a chance for us to not only say it’s a good life but to feel it and live it — just like Kennedy!
Nandell Palmer is a Federal Way resident and author. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.