Jeff would probably be unhappy that I am sharing these photos.
He adamantly wanted to be cremated, no open casket. “So, no one will have to carry my lard-a**,” he insisted. And, because he didn’t want people to remember him that way.
But, for those of us who loved him, I’m pretty sure we’re not going to get stuck on that. We’re going to be too enraptured by his normal, larger than life joy.
And for those of you who didn’t know him, I hope you might start to feel like you did.
There are a couple things worth pointing out.
1. He’s got hot sauce everywhere!
2. Some of those spots left slight burn marks on him.
3. That’s his Dad, Roger, in the background.
4. Dale Jr. Budweiser hat, MHSC embroidered logo shirt, half-wrapped legs, socks with sandals, and pukka shell choker which he would argue was definitely not a “necklace.’
5. Bottles of varying Scoville. Only a few I can make out: Michigan Hot Sauce Club, Ass-Kickin’, Bee Sting, El Yucateco, and one hot sauce bottle with an eyedropper – most likely Blair’s Reserve or Dave’s Ultimate Insanity – waivers required.
6. A craft table, a tasting table, and the flatbed, still attached to the truck. I still have an awesome handmade raised-potting bed, which I keep full of artificial plants, including a pretty realistic hot pepper pot.
The hard work Jeff put in was impressive. Even as far back as my initial hesitation, my heart and gut were already swaying me. Not specifically knowing what lay ahead, I somehow chose the path of no-regret.
Following Jeff, I did my best to run behind him and jump ahead of him; proud of his accomplishment and thrilled that most of my worrying was for naught.
The end result was a jump-up in community awareness and an amazing increase in sales. The financial risk paid off. By the end of August 2006, in just our third operational year, we had broken even – for the year. Before the holiday season had begun!
The success was smokin’ sweet. We did it, but couldn’t have without huge amounts of help from friends and family, Tecumseh and Adrian small business owners, and BNI members. Most importantly, we did it together.