This is a personal article that will touch all of you. 

I have been blessed by having such great friends over the past 40-plus years. There must be at least a dozen of us that have stayed close since high school and a few of us go all the way back to first grade. 

A belief I always carried with me is that to have great friends, you have to be a great friend back. It is a two-way street that both parties have to work at to some degree.

With that said, one of my dearest friends, Del, was unfortunately bitten by a mosquito when he was 28 years old and developed encephalitis, which causes swelling of the brain. He lost hand-eye coordination and most of his speech. He has always been one of the sweetest guys I know and a “salesman’s salesman,” who basically has been robbed by being able not to converse. His life is good and he has made the most out of it, but still has not been able to do things we take for granted such as having a simple conversation or even send a quick text (due to the hand-eye coordination).

My other friend is Allen, the prototypical-starving artist with a degree in psychology who cares more about everyone else than himself. He is always interested in what is going on in your life. After finishing college he just started drawing as a hobby, which turned into his profession. His talent is truly amazing and if you saw one of his drawings (he specializes in sports figures drawn in pencil), you would be quite impressed. His work has been sold and shown all over the country. In fact, Bed Bath and Beyond carried his lithographs for quite a while. When he was in his early 30s, he noticed something was not quite right with his motor skills. After seeing a doctor, he was diagnosed with early stages multiple sclerosis, more commonly referred to as MS. 

Presently, he has lost the use of his hands and legs and is a quadriplegic with only the use of his left thumb, which allows him at least to operate the remote control for his TV or the joystick on his powered wheelchair. I see him on an average of three times a week and he always amazes me with his warmth and sense of humor.

So, you ask why am I telling you all this? Simple answer, but you must read on a little further. 

A few weeks ago, Del was in town and we went to visit Allen, who is in a nursing home, just to say hello and let them reconnect. I sat back and watched these two tell stories even though it was very tough for Del to communicate properly and laugh at the good times we all had in our 20s. After about four seconds into our hourlong visit, I realized what a jerk I am and you will feel the same as I did. 

While they were conversing, I was thinking about my issues that bother me or I complain about. My cable at home was having a few glitches and my email was hacked just a couple of days prior to our visit. One of my clients was driving me a little crazy with too much micro-managing and I needed to get a ding in my car door fixed by the body shop.

I just started to laugh to myself and then focused on my two friends catching up, not complaining about a thing and just so happy to see each other. My problems seemed to go away by themselves.

Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of numerous business books including two national best sellers “Can I Have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?” and “Lip Service.” Hal’s newest book on sales is titled “Ultimate Sales Book” He can be reached at


Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.

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