Happy Birthday George!

WARNING: The post you are about to read (should you choose to) is categorized under “Random Ramblings”. You will not learn anything about real estate by reading this.

 

Despite the fact that I tend to keep to myself when I’m not helping clients or spending time with my family, I have been blessed with quite a few great friendships over the years, and my love for Jesus, helping others, riding bicycles, laughter and cars has lead me to some very unlikely friendships; like one with my old friend George.

I met George while working at a car dealership, fielding calls and online inquiries from people considering vehicle purchases. I’ll never forget the first time we spoke (or at least attempted to). I answered my phone, and was initially struck by a very resounding voice on the other end of the line. It was a powerful, distinct and bellowing voice, but the words quickly turned to those of an incredibly frustrated man (still with an impressive bellowing voice). At first I was humored by the situation, as some of the words became pretty “colorful”, but then I developed compassion for this guy who I really hadn’t spoken with yet. He was clearly having trouble with something, and at the moment, I wasn’t sure how or if I would be able to help him. After a minute or two of listening to the caller’s struggle and frustration, the call disconnected and I went back to helping others.

Happy Birthday George

After a few more minutes went by, my phone rang again, and on the other end this time was that same voice I’d heard a few minutes prior, but this time without any of the frustration. As it turns out, the caller used some kind of technology in conjunction with his phone that enabled him to hear those on the other end of the line. He was an elderly gentleman with ears that didn’t work very well anymore, but at last we were reading each other loud and clear. He described to me a predicament he was in, and I took notes and began considering ways I’d be able to help him as we spoke. He was very concerned because he had let his driver’s license expire, and would need to pass a driving test again. It had been many years since he’d been required to take (and pass) a driving test, but he was bound and determined to do it, and longed for the independence he once had of driving himself around. He told me during that first conversation we had that he “just wanted to be able to drive himself to church and to Fred Meyer”. I’ve always enjoyed helping others accomplish their goals, but the determination in his voice was as sincere as it could be, and it inspired me all the more to want to help him accomplish his goal.

I won’t lie, there were a few times during our conversations that I became concerned for George’s safety, as well as that of others he’d share the road with, as he described his desire to find a vehicle that had ALL of the safety features available. A vehicle that would apply the brakes if he didn’t see something in his path, and one that would warn him if he veered out of his lane, or couldn’t see what was behind him while backing. Some of these things definitely caused me concern, but I did my job and continued to work with him to do what I could to inspire a visit to the dealership during which he’d be able to learn all about the latest safety technology, sit in some vehicles to try them on for size, and also take a test drive if he’d like to (and without me).   🙂

Chevy-Traverse-LTZ

For a time, George had his heart set on one of these; a brand new Chevrolet Traverse LTZ with all of the “bells and whistles”. 

George and I would talk with each other on the phone on a pretty regular basis, and we traded several emails as we tried to pin down a time he’d be able to make it in to the dealership, but after a little while, he “went quiet” on me and we lost contact. Since he was up there in years, I (selfishly) became concerned that perhaps George’s days here on earth had ended, and I surely wouldn’t be able to help him, or talk with him again. I knew that day would come, and I also knew I would miss my visits and email exchanges with him.

After two or three weeks went by, I received another email from George. He was very much alive, but had informed me that his accountant had discovered he owed “Uncle Sam” some back taxes, and sadly, a new vehicle purchase would not be in the cards for him. I was pretty bummed for George because I knew how badly he wanted a nice new vehicle with all of the latest safety features, but at the same time; I was very happy for him too. He was still alive after all, hopeful for better days ahead and to be able to pass his driver’s test. After another week or so, I received another call from George, and he was ecstatic! He had had some work done to his old Suburban, and to his surprise, he had passed the driver’s test!

 

George.Kennedy.Wants.To.Chat

I don’t know why, but to this day, this message still appears below the list of my email folders. I look forward to chatting with you again too George. 

 

While I had been working to put options together to help George button down a good time for him to visit the dealership, we learned a lot about each other, and struck up a real (though surprising) friendship. I was doing my job, and doing my best to inspire and schedule a visit to the dealership, but without fail, the topics of most of our conversations and email exchanges turned to much bigger and more meaningful things than vehicles. George and I learned that we both shared a faith in Jesus, and we both enjoyed road trips and stringing words together (writing). After I had let him know that my family and I would be going on a road trip back to Western Washington, one of the things George mentioned in his reply was, “I envy you and your trip.  When in my prime, I’d drive our gorgeous country just to see it. In Texas once, I took a 12 mile detour to see “The deepest hole in the desert”. It was just a hole”.  George enjoyed reminiscing days gone by, and most of his stories were quite humorous.

He had written a few books, and had been writing another on how to navigate life in the golden years. Something he had looked for but without success, and then began investing time in to himself, in order to help others sharing his struggles. The guy had a heart of gold, and was a very neat man. He was the kind of guy you hear about who would “give you the shirt off of his back”. He even raised his own grandchildren, and all the while in the midst of a very busy career as an actor. Yep. One of my co-workers at the dealership asked me if I was talking with “the George Kennedy”. Not being much of a movie watcher, I wasn’t sure at the time, but George was an accomplished actor. He never once bragged about or even brought up his accomplishments as an actor, but the guy was in hundreds of movies and TV shows, he had won an Academy Award, been nominated for a Golden Globe award, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and most impressive (to me, anyway) was the fact that he joined the US Army DURING World War II!

 

the-naked-gun-2-the-smell-of-fear-lg

That’s George as Captain Ed Hocken co-staring with Leslie Nielsen as Lieutenant Frank Dreblin in The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear.  

 

I’ve been speaking about my old friend George in the past tense now because he did end up passing away about 6 months after he passed that driving test. His passing wasn’t due to a car accident of any kind, thank God, but due to heart disease. Like my other hero’s, George never bragged about himself or his accomplishments. I learned about most of those right HERE, and HERE. He was more about asking others how they were doing and about what they were up to, and not at all about talking about himself. He had a ton of humility, and I am very grateful for the times I did get to spend with him.

His hearing aids never seemed to work very well, and always needed batteries. To this day, I’m not sure George wasn’t completely alright with his hearing aids “needing batteries”. He was a kind man, but I think after 91 years, he’d probably heard enough. I’ll never forget one of the times I visited him at the assisted living home where he lived. We were talking at a table out in their dining area, and I asked him if he’d had a chance to drive himself to church, and to Fred Meyer. After about the third time I’d yelled the question again because he asked me to repeat it, he told me something I’ll never forget. He said, “Oh Trevor. Once you’re married to the best woman who ever lived, you’ll never marry again”.  🙂 He was referring to his late wife Joan McCarthy, who passed away about 5 months before he did. Yep. Even after yelling my question in that usually quiet assisted living home, George had clearly not heard what I asked him, and it became clear to me that it might be best to take our exchanges and friendship back to the keyboards.

 

Star On Hollywood Walk

What does any of this have to do with real estate, you may be wondering? You sound like a rambling old man yourself, Trevor. Well. I know I resemble that comment, but to me, it has everything to do with it because in my mind, real estate isn’t about “selling houses”, but about helping others accomplish their goals. It has always been very therapeutic and beneficial for me to completely ignore my own desires, and instead focus solely on helping others achieve their goals.

One thing I hope you’ll take from this (if you’re still with me) is a suggestion, and especially if you have small children.

Find an assisted living home, and see if you and your children (or just you) can sign up to visit their residents from time to time. I promise, you won’t be sorry. Some of the residents at those facilities have loving family members nearby who visit them on a regular basis, but I know for a fact that many of them do not, and are quite lonely and they LOVE it when people come to visit them, and LOVE seeing and interacting with children, as they don’t see children very often. You can really make their days with a simple visit, and you too will be blessed in the process.

Harmony Hills

There are several assisted living facilities around, but this is Harmony Hills on Overland in Meridian. Our daughter volunteered there for a middle school service project, and had such a ball that she couldn’t wait to go back. 

 

We recently took my friend Odile out to dinner. Don’t worry. I’ll make sure this story is much shorter. She is someone I met after she invited me to list and sell her house after it became too much for her to take care of. We were on our way back from Red Robin to the assisted living home where she lives when I overheard something remarkable taking place right behind me. Our 8 year old son (who has an uncanny ability to remember just about everything he hears or reads) was seated beside Odile, and somehow the topic of World War II came up. He was asking her questions, and she, having lived through the time that World War II took place, was giving him a first-hand account of what she remembered about the war! It was crazy, and most likely a once in a lifetime opportunity for our son! Sure, he may learn about that war and others in school, or read about it online or in books, but it isn’t very likely that our 8 year old son would have ever had the chance to discuss World War II with someone who remembers it taking place, had we not been blessed with a friendship with Odile.

World War II

Thanks to ALL who served during World War II, as well as during any other point in time! 

 

Anyway. Just a suggestion. Thanks so much for stopping by my website. Stay as long as you’d like, browse the inventory, and please feel free to call or text me any time. I’ll be both thrilled and honored to help you or yours out in any way that I can!

Oh. And Happy Birthday George! He would have turned 95 today (if he was still living on earth and in Idaho).