Earlier this week, I attended the funeral of a dear family friend. There were a lot of folks in the sanctuary to pay their last respects and say goodbye to Erv. It made me wonder why we attend funerals. They aren’t particularly fun events, after all. It’s respect. We go out of respect for the departed and the family and friends they’ve left behind.
Earn that respect now
I’d known Erv for … well, my entire life. He was my late father’s fraternity brother and his wife and my mother have been best of friends since they met more years ago than I’m allowed to mention. These are the kinds of relationships and friendships we all dream about having in our lives. As a matter of fact, I find myself choked up now as I think about more than four decades of memories I have of this great man and our families together.
Several years ago, I watched as Erv (and by that time his son’s) transformed their business from an appliance distributorship into a wholesale pet supplies distributorship. That, my friends, is no small or simple transformation. While the business model was still in distribution, all the suppliers and customers changed. That’s how you earn respect in business. Grow, change and adapt with the changing times and market conditions.
Be fair with others and give when you don’t have to
Over this past winter, Erv’s family stored an extra automobile in my mother’s garage. These are longtime family friends and my mom had the space so she asked nothing in return. Erv showed up with with large quantities of pet food and toys to be distributed among our family. Suffice it to say that our two cats ate and played well all last winter and into the spring on the supply.
I’ve never had significant business dealings with Erv and his family, but the little bit I do have first hand knowledge of was all AAA+. They have all been fair dealings, more than fair prices and always the warmth and friendship you’d expect from lifelong friends. I’m guessing Erv and his sons treat everyone in business this way; even when they don’t want to. That’s just part of the ethical standard that came out of the greatest generation. I’m still trying to master it myself.
Erv was a lifelong joke teller. And I’m talking good jokes, every last one of them made me laugh. I still remember a recent family gathering Erv attended. I believe it was one of the visitations after my own father passed away. I sat down near Erv and we talked … about what I don’t remember. I do remember him telling me a few jokes. Then, I remember for a few moments that my own sense of loss and pain vanished.
Thanks Erv for the jokes, the memories and the inspiration to write this blog post even after you’ve left us. As for last respects, I don’t like that phrase anymore because my respect for you and your family will live on.