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Man renovates grieving stranger's kitchen

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Posted at 9:08 AM, Oct 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-27 11:08:56-04

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WEWS) — Ashley Black and Ashley Duffield have a lot in common.

They’re both nurses, wives, mothers and daughters. Black is a hospice nurse, taking care of those at the end of their lives. Duffield is a labor and delivery nurse, helping bring new life into this world.

It turns out, their dads even shared their own similarities.

“He was dad,” Black said. “Walked in, he resembled dad, he acted like dad, he was ornery, he was a worker, he wanted to do whatever he could for his daughter.”

She’s talking about Duffield’s dad, Ronnie, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in late 2021.

The illness was aggressive, and doctors only gave him months to live.

He started chemotherapy and radiation around Christmas. In May, he ended up in hospice with Black as his nurse.

Instantly, a bond was formed.

“I would go in there and blow the sawdust off his head, do his assessments and he’d say, ‘Can I go back to work now?” Black said.

Ronnie was just 61 years old when he passed away in July, doing what he loved doing until the day he died.

“Working. He actually put that big support beam in our kitchen the day before he passed. He kept saying he wanted to work the sickness out,” Duffield said.

“He was just a super hard worker. Fun, full of life,” Duffield said.

He didn’t get to finish the kitchen he had been racing to get done for his daughter.

The kitchen, where Duffield’s family would meet, eat and connect with each other every day, is the beating heart of their home. On the day Ronnie died, it stopped beating.

Ronnie's work sat unfinished until Black’s dad, John, stepped up for a man he never met to finish the job, without a second thought.

“It was like a no-brainer. When are we gonna do this? When are we gonna get started?” John Kenneweg said.

After 30 years in woodworking and cabinet making, this job, Kenneweg said, has been the most rewarding.

“The friendship, gaining another daughter basically, it’s very emotional for me,” Kenneweg said.

The bond between a daughter and her dad is something else.

“Every room has a piece of something he’s made or done for us,” Duffield said.

Inside one of the cabinets, Kenneweg left the signature he leaves for all his kids — “Made With Love.”

And right next to it, the saying Ronnie was known for:

“Every time you’d ask my dad to build you something or ask for a picture, he’d say, ‘I’d love to, thanks for the opportunity,’” Duffield said.

This story was originally reported by Homa Bash on news5cleveland.com.