I remember it vividly…
We were at the round kitchen table at ‘The Farm’ celebrating my 10th birthday. Our grandfather was sitting in one of the two rocking chairs in the kitchen, on either side of the wood stove. Our Grandfather, Papa, was a dentist but that didn’t define him. He was a family man and his love of family and helping others truly defined him. Papa loved his family, especially his grandkids. At that time there were 6 of us. Sean and Duffy were the first two and were six and eight years old than me. Then there were Justin, Zack, me, and Hannah all born within about a 3-year cluster.
He was OUR Grandfather. He made us all feel special in our own way as only grandparents can. Papa was Italian, which meant he was loud and boisterous and he knew how to cook. He preached to us from as long as I can remember. It wasn’t so much what he verbalized as opposed to his actions, that FAMILY comes first. He and Nana-Pop’s (our grandmother), house was ALWAYS open to family. Weekends, Thursday dinners, holidays, birthdays, you name it, you were always at their home.
It was only natural that we were there, my whole Italian family, Aunts, Uncles, and cousins celebrating my 10th birthday.
I remember this like it was yesterday. Papa in his loud voice, sitting in his rocking chair, told me to, “Come here, I need to give you a spanking.” Having no clue what I did wrong but I complied and went over to Papa, ready for a
spanking. He gave me a big hug and kiss as he was joking and wished me a happy birthday.
Later that day, he pulled me aside and told me that I was “no longer single digits” and that I was growing up. Papa telling me that I was no longer Single Digits has stuck with me to this day!
That is my last memory of Papa as just a couple short months later on June 30, 1986 he passed away on a golf course from an allergic reaction from a bee sting.
Our family was devastated.
I remember the days after his passing that there was family from literally all over the country coming to ‘The Farm’ to offer their condolences, to comfort my grandmother, and to stay for the funeral. It was like nothing that I have ever seen.
Our Grandfather had such an Impact on so many people’s lives and made so many other people feel special. His impact was evident by the outpouring of support from all over the country from his unexpected passing. Only being 10 years old, this left a huge impression on me.
Papa’s number ONE attribute was his ability to make others feel special! Because he passed when I was young, I have a handful of these memories, but one that has stuck with me for the last 30 years is Papa pulling me aside, after he had pretended to be upset and want to spank me, to pointing out the fact that I was no longer single digits. This single moment might not have meant much to him, but it has stuck with me to this day as a special moment in my life.
This small moment brings me to this year as Anthony just recently celebrated his 10th birthday on September 9th.
Thirty years down the road of life I am beginning to realize that I can’t make these ‘small moments’ for my own kids. Something that might stick with them for their lives are going to be unique to them and are going to be their own memories. We can’t manufacture these memories for them, they make their own.
This is a milestone year in our family as far as birthdays as Anthony just turned 10. Susan and I both turned 40, me earlier this year and Susan this month, and then my grandmother, Nama, (my Mom’s mom) turned 90 in September.
Sitting here perched on 40, no longer ‘a kid’, even though I still get to act like it with my boyz, reflecting on the past 10 years since Anthony was born leaves me with two very distinct thoughts. The first harkens back to a conversation that I had with a buddy of mine, Terry Kernan when Susan was pregnant.
Terry said to me, “Eric. Once you have kids, any major event in your life, how you will remember that even and put it in the content of time will be in relation to your kids and their age.” What Terry meant was that any life event after having kids will always harken back to your kids age and this has held true to today.
Off the top of my head, I don’t remember the year our Grandmother passed away, but once I think back, I know it was 6 months after Alex was born and Alex was born in April of 2009, so she passed away in October 2009.
Think about it. If you have children, don’t you measure life and certain events on the age of your kids and where you were at that time?
This brings me to my second thought, how much can change in a decade. Ten years ago, Susan and I were ‘young’ newlyweds without any kids, we just had a young yellow lab named Lucky. Ten years later we have a family, 2 boyz, and we have a young yellow lab named Lazer that we got a few years after Lucky passed away. I had both of my grandmothers and Susan had both of hers. Now 10 years later, we are down to one grandmother each.
Ten years ago my cousins Justin and Zack were alive and making a HUGE impact in the world. (I’ve shared both their stories many times, so not gonna tell them again today). Now Ten years later, both have passed away. Both reminding everyone just how very fragile life can be. Justin and Zack were hitting their stride in life and making huge impacts on others.
The one trait that Justin and Zack both possessed was the same trait that Papa had- the ability to make others feel special.
At their funerals, both churches were overflowing with people from all over the country and the world. They came because they were touched, were moved in some way, shared many memories, and ultimately felt special when they were around Justin and Zack. The impact that both had on others was incredible. Zack was making inroads in what he did for NASA, CIA, and had co-founded his own company. Justin was impacting hundreds of kids’ lives on a daily basis with his immensely successful tutoring business.
Sitting here writing this reminds me of a quote that I’ve heard numerous times, and it just hit me as I’m talking about Papa, talking about my Grandmother, talking about Justin and Zack, by Maya Angelou. I’m sure that you’ve heard it before:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I know that I can do a better job impacting my kids’ lives and those around me if I just take the time to stop and think am I impacting their life in a way that makes them feel SPECIAL.
Now to relate this back to what I do. If you really think about it, a trained monkey could easily buy and sell houses. Open a door. Fill out a contract. Make a couple phone calls. In reality there are 1,000 other aspects to the job that agents do, but the public perception of what agents do is next to nothing. And truth be told, a lot of agent’s skate by doing just exactly that, next to nothing. But going back to my point, yes I help people. On the surface, it seems like I help friends buy and sell homes, but what I’m really doing is trying to give them an Experience that makes them feel special. And I believe that by making others feel special during one of the most stressful events they will ever have, such as moving their loved ones, that people remember how you made them feel.
If you think about it, my job is to give my clients such an experience that they feel ‘Special’ and that is what I believe we do well. That is why we don’t have to do what other agents do, CHASE leads. We don’t have leads, we don’t have clients, we have relationships.
Aleena said it best after we helped her family move from their townhouse to a beautiful new home with some acreage, “It’s an absolute pleasure to work with Eric. He went above and beyond to make sure our sale went smoothly. Words really can’t describe how much he cares about his customers and treats us more like family!”
I say this all the time, that some might start out as clients, but they become friends, they become family.
Looking back over these past 10 years it’s been an emotional roller coaster with loss of family members, but there have also been many, many happy and everlasting memories made over the past 10 years.
Looking forward, my GOAL over the next 10 years is to find a way that I can impact more people’s lives in a way that makes them feel SPECIAL and important. If I can strive each day, (remember the Snowball Effect?) to move forward with this mission, then in 10 years there should be a huge imprint on others’ lives.
Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it for you!