Showing posts from 2013

Year 4 of a Christmas Tradition: The Pocketwatch

This has been a rough December. In fact, this is probably the roughest time in my life since those dark days 5 years ago when I was watching my mother battle and hoping beyond all hope for a miracle. As you know, that miracle never came and my life was sent into a downward spiral that nearly cost me my life. Once I hit the bottom and bounced, I found a life where everything made sense. Now, as I once again have been stung by December, I pray that God will lead me through this tumultuous time and show me his will, as he did then.

Three years, I was remembering my mother and reliving the last memories I have of her. It was a very emotional and cathartic time for me, and using this blog to recount that terrible time was very therapeutic. I would recommend going back and looking at those posts. I do so often, especially when I find myself in a place like I am today. They are my refuge, and help me find my center when nothing else makes sense.

During that time, I wrote a blog entitled &quo…

I am no Moonlight Graham

"No one has called me Moonlight Graham in 50 years" - Burt Lancaster, Field of Dreams

I love that movie. One of my all time favorites, the best part is when Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones are talking to the lady at the local paper. She is telling them about the old baseball player they were looking for who had come back home and become a doctor. And everyone had known him in this small town. I have seen that movie 1000 times and could probably watch it 1000 more. It never gets old.

We are in a very busy spell at work. As winter arrived, house fires became the prevalent claim type called into the Mammoth Ohio World Headquarters. And since I am that fire guy, I have been running from Dayton to Portsmouth, Bucyrus to Athens, and everywhere in between. My boss and I joked that we need to put a laptop stand where my passenger seat is so I can write a few estimates as I drive. Or I hope he was joking!

One of the fires I did this week was in my neighborhood. This has become som…

Thanks for the praying knees

Earlier in the week I asked for prayers, as I found myself in a very unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and devastating position. A situation presented itself to me that knocked me back down a mountain I thought I had already conquered. Out of fear of going into a complete tailspin, I sought counsel where I needed to and tried to find something to grab on to so that I would not fall any further. And while I am a long way from okay, I am better than I was yesterday, and that was miles ahead of where I was when the moment of truth arrived. And I believe the path ahead, while long, will find us back on top again.
I thank you all for your prayers and ask that you keep us in them. I am so grateful for the shoulder and advice that helped me helped me step out of the rubble and find the first steps towards rebuilding. And I love you all for being there when I needed you.
Day # 293. Have a great night everyone.

Not quite peace on Earth, but it will do

If you look at the three of us, you might never know. An extremely successful hospital administrator who has held conversation with the likes of Nelson Mandela, Hillary Clinton, and other world leaders during her career. A medical chair technician who is covered in tattoos and rides with the 1%er's. And a project manager, who found his happy spot with a little red headed girl after nearly losing everything during a mid life crisis. The three of us are very different people, and those who do not know might never guess that we are siblings, all raised by the same college administrator and his medical assistant turned professor wife.
As we have gotten older and the family has grown in numbers, individual birthday and holiday celebrations have become almost impossible to pull off. So we have decided to combine several events at once into quarterly get togethers. We get together about every three months to visit and celebrate birthdays and any other special events that have occurred. A…

Its a mad mad world

This has been one heck of a week at work. Each day, I had at least one new fire to go inspect. My entire team was in the field and we were pulling from other departments just to show a presence at each job site. The affected homes were hours apart instead of a few miles, and I spent my week on the road as I personally respond to each new claim. As a result, heading into this morning, I had a lot of catching up to do just to keep things from falling completely apart.

I was in early and started my Friday by knocking out about half of my to do list and was looking forward to a productive afternoon that might give me a whole weekend away from my desk Then the phone rang. Another smoke damaged home. In Dayton. 90 minutes away. I sighed, set an afternoon appointment, and looked helplessly at the tasks I would have to leave for another day.

Before my journey out 70 west, I had to make a stop at a local Mall. The Polaris Fashion place is your typical city mall, but I had not been there in ove…

Waiting for the car to warm up

A few months ago, my boss asked me to place an ad on Craigslist looking for new technicians to join our team. Over the summer, we turned over nearly all of the guys who were engaging in a pattern of negativity that had cast a cloud over our company for months. I sat down, wrote a silly little ad about a crappy job with great pay and posted it online.

The response to the ad was great, as we had 30 or so people reply and tell us it was because the ad caught their eye. Now I will be honest, this is not the first time I put an ad on craigslist that got a lot of buzz. But it was the first time for business,  and I was proud when my boss told me he thought it was great and asked if he could share it with business owners he is affiliated with all over the industry. I said sure and never thought anything more of it.

Some time later he came back to me and told me another gentleman wanted me to write an ad for him. The crappy job ad had been shared and shared again, and had been posted in sever…

A Very Carpenter Christmas

As I drove to Glouster, Ohio today, I was scanning the channels on the radio looking for some type of entertainment to come through the speakers of the Mammoth-mobile. I refuse to listen to ESPN when Colin-loves-Romo-Carroll-Saban-SEC-is-gold-everything-in-Ohio-sucks is on the air, and my favorite program (FnA Show on 95.5 The Game) was fading into a mix of some preacher from New-Lex and the right wing nut job show. Um, no. Scan please.

Normally, it is about this time of the year that I am tired of Christmas music. Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays. The lights and gifts and festive atmospheres are all great pieces of the celebration of Christ's birth. But when Walmart puts out the Christmas trees before Halloween and half the radio stations in Columbus change their programming to 24/7 yuletide music before Thanksgiving, my bah humbug spirit tends to rear it's head as I watch the sanctity of the season become a Wall Street Marketing Scheme. But, because that can of wo…

All is still right in my world

A year ago today I penned a blog entitled All is right with the world. It was an account about a day in court, a celebration of my boys being home, and lamenting the long road it took to get to that place. Today, 365 days later, a lot has changed. Lil red and I have gone from being engaged to being an old married couple. John-Michael is halfway through a freshman year that has already seen him play an entire football season and qualify for the varsity wrestling team. Ben is becoming a teen ager and knows everything, and is happy to tell you he does. And Tanner turns double digits today, and the birthday cake for breakfast is one of the traditions our family has adopted since the boys came home a little over a year ago.
I have often reflected on my childhood and stark differences I had in male role models. And I have always chosen to follow the lead of the man I call Dad, Michael Bromberg. This man was always supportive and made sacrifices for my siblings and I that we can never repay.…

Dreading a Monday

I keep telling myself I will be past it in 24 hours. That as I look at the clock tomorrow evening at 6:27, the meeting I have been dreading for 4 days will be in the rear view mirror and I will be able to exhale. And while I am sure the feeling of relief will be short lived, it will be nice to feel the blood pressure come down tomorrow.

My last post, on Thanksgiving Day, was a reminder to me about why I do the job that I do. Being able to use my position as a vehicle to help people during their hour of need was, is, and will continue to be the driving force that gets me out of bed when the alarm clock goes off at 6 am everyday. But as a company, we are far from perfect. Sometimes we make mistakes and our clients are left with a not so great taste in their mouths. And that bothers me on a very personal level. Because when I am standing with them, holding their hands as they survey the burned remains of their home and memories, I promise them that we will take care of them. And I do not…

30 Days of Thanksgiving. Day # 28

I will never forget that morning. It had to be 5 below zero with the wind, and the last thing I wanted to do was go outside and stand on that stupid beach. But there I was, looking out over the ocean at Cape Cod, icicles forming on my nose, watching the sun came up. It made my new Dad smile, and while I didn't appreciate the moment then, it was one of the most memorable Thanksgivings I have ever had. Years later, no matter where I have been or whose table I was privileged to sit at, I have always gone back to those times when we ate (and drank a bunch of water) at the Barnaby Inn, sat around Aunt Ann's ping pong table, and turned beet red as my very religious Papaw told a dirty joke at Grandma Kay's in 1989.  Cape Cod, Boston, and my Dad's family are my favorite Thanksgiving memories.

Today was set to be much less eventful. With the boys spending the holiday with their mother and no other plans, Tiffany and I planned a quiet feast at home. She was up early (5am) and be…

Please do not grow up to be a schmuck

It had been going on for months. Everyday I made the walk down the long path from Struble Elementary to our street, then followed the sidewalk across the bridge, over the creek and home. And every day I walked tentatively, not sure when or where Steve Bates might show up. Could be on the corner of Peacock and Royal Glen Drive. Could have been where the path dumped out onto Peacock's dead end. But I could count on getting beat up, kicked, laughed at, and put down. Everyday.

My Mom had finally had enough of me coming home crying everyday and nothing ever changing. She had spoken to the school, gone across the street to his parents, yet nothing changed. She finally told me if I did not whoop him, she would whoop me. She gave my sister the position of informer, because Angelia was to report back what happened the next day. And, as it turned out, there was a lot to report.

When I came off the path, I saw him waiting there. Standing on the corner, he told me I was a fat boy as I walked …

My son, the Bully

Last Friday, before I got home from work, there was a knock on my front door. My wife, Tiffany, answered the door and was confronted by an upset father. This man, clearly frustrated and at his wits end, informed her that our son Ben had taken part in the verbal bullying of his son Jordan. And while Ben was not the primary offender, nor had he been involved since the beginning, he was still a part of a group of kids who had been picking on Jordan for 2 years.

When Tiffany called me I was floored. For those who do not know Ben, he is a great kid, the last person I had ever imagined would be involved with something like this. Sweet and always caring, Ben often will give up something he wants if someone else wants it more. He asks to help around the house and is a very even keeled kid. Still he is a little awkward, not feeling like he fits in. He is an artist while his older brother is the athlete, so Ben has always felt like his identity needed to be separate from John Michael's. Thi…

Gilbert Dynasty

I will never forget that as long as I live. I was a kid, and I had gone to my Mamaw and  Papaw's for the weekend. Nothing unusual about that, as I spent a lot of time in that little white house on Morrow-Rossburg Road when I was young. But this time, this was different.The yard was full of tables and chairs, and there were dozens of cars parked down under the hill. The Gilbert Reunion had come to Pleasant Plain, Ohio, and it was a sight to see. Great country cooking and men pitching horseshoes and the singing of hymns highlighted this and many other reunions to follow.

In years to come, the reunion grew into an all out event. Dinners and fellowship at the Breaks State Park, Breakfast at Aunt Betty's, church on Sunday morning, and the often mentioned and world famous auction (see "The Pocket Watch" here: ) all became hallmarks of the annual gathering. The Gilbert family, comprised of the descendants of Dink…

225,000 square foot man cave

I have a lot going on in life right now. Between having three kids now in 3 different schools with different start and finish times, freshman football that seems to dominate life, new projects at work all over the state from Mansfield to West Portsmouth, the family reunion this weekend, etc, it seems just having to time stop for dinner has become something of a luxury recently. So when a friend suggested that Ralph and I feed our creative juices by visiting a warehouse in Columbus, I once again found myself trying to fit something else into my already hectic schedule. But, I figured a quick and easy 30 minutes would keep my brother and I pushing in the right direction, even amid the chaos of life.

At 5:30 last evening we arrived at this facility on the east side. Fenced in like Fort Knox, we rang the bell at the security gate and were let in by an employee leaving for the day. We went around to the front of this seemingly deserted complex and found the front door. We walked in and wai…

My son, a Slusher

You know, it’s funny, I stood in my kitchen Monday morning and wished John-Michael a happy birthday as he looked me in the eye. And I thought to myself “when the heck did that happen?” Feels like yesterday he was born, now he is 15. I remember holding him for the first time and thinking how it is my job to teach him to be a man of integrity, a man of honor, a man named Slusher. I have tried to do that every day of his life and don’t believe I will ever stop instilling these values into him. 
Being Slusher means never giving less than 100%. It means always being honest, even when that truth hurts more than a lie would. It mean always doing the right thing, even when no one is around to pat you on the back. It mean his mother, future wife, and future daughters never see a violent act from him, and that he approaches any person or situation with a level head, soft hands, and an understanding heart. And it means learning from every mistake, winning more than you lose, and always leaving …

The Moonville Tunnel

As a kid growing up, I remember very cool day trips we had with my mother. From the Serpent Mound to the Loveland Castle to the park with the curvy slide in Wilmington, it seemed like Mom never missed a chance to make a new, lasting memory on my siblings and I. As a Dad, I want my boys to experience the same things. So we take them on these small adventures, hoping that they will turn into lifelong memories as well.

Saturday we got up and packed the car for the latest in these fun excursions. We headed towards the Hocking Hills area of our state, on a mission to find a haunted tunnel near Hope Lake. We drove down miles and miles of windy roads, turned off onto a one lane path that turned into a gravel trail before it stopped just short of an old rusty bridge. According to the information we had, the tunnel was back in the woods off the broken trails near this creek. We started out, with me leading the way and Tiffany and her walking stick following the boys through mud holes, narrow t…

My son is the new Chuck Norris

They say that every parent hopes their kid has a child just like the one they raised. And from what I remember about my childhood, my Mom probably wished that wish every day of her life after I came along. I was a Noxema eating, standing on the table at Burger King singing the McDonalds song, asking if the Gas Station man wanted to be my new Daddy, falling out of the shopping cart and busting my head open kind of kid. Mom had quite an adventure trying to raise me, and I am glad that for the most part my boys have not given me the same experience. Sure JM broke his arm last summer, but overall we have had a very uneventful few years.

I was surprised, then, when I answered my phone shortly after 5 last night. John-Michael had been at football practice and should have been home. Instead, he said "Dad, I got hit by a car and am at the Gahanna Police Station." I was out the door in a flash and got to him in less than 8 minutes.

I realized that he was not seriously hurt when I wal…

Pushing Forward

Life's about changing, nothing ever stays the same. Those lyrics to an old Patty Loveless song can certainly be applied to just about anyone. Think about your life 5 years ago. Is it the same as today? Are you where you thought you would be? And how have you handled the curveballs thrown to you in that time. A swing and miss? Or knocking it out of the park?

It has been nearly two months since I sat down to pen a new entry into this journal of life I like to share with you. A lot has happened and, as has been the case before, I learned and pushed forward. I have had my professional credentials questioned and was told that nothing I had ever done in my career means a thing now. Ouch, that hurt. And it really was not an accurate portrayal of the situation at hand. But that is ok. I dissected the things that were said and re-evaluated my priorities. I took the insults, fed them to my ego, and am currently using them for fuel, propelling me to where I want to be instead of where I hav…

17 Laps

I sat outside that place in my car this morning, listening to ESPN radio and watching as the people filed in. This is a new experience. I was not even sure that I was going to make it to the front door, much less step inside. After all, I have always been leery of the next big step I needed to take in life, even when it is in my best interests. For years I lived an unhappy life, knowing I needed to change, yet did nothing. When I finally removed myself and my boys from that situation, I looked back and wondered what took me so long. Recently, after many try and fails, I put down my smokes for good. Now I look back and wonder what I was so addicted to, the feeling like crap or the being a slave to a habit I had to make time for 20 times a day or so. But this morning, this place, was different. And as I began walking towards the door, the new mountain I was looking up at seemed incredibly daunting.

I went inside just after 5:30 am and checked in at the Gahanna, YMCA. This membership was…


I sit in my office on Monday morning, wondering what the day or week might hold in store here at work. Outside of this place, I have a lot of exciting things happening that could lead to bigger and better things for my sons, my wife, and myself. But here, well this is the week that the other project manager heads off for vacation, leaving me to hold down the fort on both sides of the company.

Last year as he was driving out of town, we received the largest claim in the history of the company when the Staples store in Whitehall, Ohio lost it's roof during a storm. A month later, he had to go to San Antonio for training, and we got nailed with the largest residential claim we had ever experienced while he was away. So with this week upon us once again, I knew I had better take the weekend to relax.

Tiffany and I love having the boys with us. They have come alive and changed so much since the custody switch that they are like different kids. All of them have grown physically and ment…

Live a life that matters

I do not remember who sent this to me, nor do I know who wrote it. It was an email I forwarded myself when I left Belfor. However, I found myself in a strange place today. And I was looking through my old emails and found this, which I have not seen since the day I sent it to myself almost 3 years ago. I forgot I even read it in the first place. But I really needed to hear this today. And as I am learning more and more everyday, everything will be shown to you when God decides you need to see it. Please enjoy.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days. All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance. It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed. 
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear. So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and “to do” lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away. I…

Dear Me

Dear Me,

Keep your confidence. Do not let them see how nervous you are.

Slow down. You have a tendency to talk really fast when you are excited. Take a breath.

Listen more than you speak. Every word will be important.

Think about the question before you give an answer, give yourself time to process what you are trying to convey.

When answering, speak confidently about what you are putting in front of them.

Remember why you are there. The names are John-Michael, Benjamin, Tanner, and Tiffany.

Remember what got you there. 40 years of life experience. You are, like Mom, a story teller. Let them see that. It is a strength.

Remember, you have one shot, one opportunity. Do not let it slip.

What's for you WILL NOT pass by you.

Keep the faith. In yourself, in Ralph, and, most importantly, in God. He put you here, he gave you this chance.

And remember that no matter what happens, whether you walk out overjoyed, disappointed, or neutral, you have 3 great sons, a tremendous family, wonderful…

In sync

I had a pretty terrific weekend. It was no surprise, as Tiffany and I usually try to maximize Saturdays and Sundays both when the boys are with us and when we are all by ourselves. The last two days were the latter and we woke up early Saturday to begin the adventure.

We spent Saturday morning visiting numerous yard sales around North East Columbus. We usually have one or two things we are looking for, and got lucky to cross everything off of our list by noon. We returned home, unpacked the car then headed to Utica, Ohio, to a tattoo shop owned by a high school friend of mine. Tiffany wants to get a sleeve tattoo, and we met with my artist friend (also a Tiffiny). They planned was is sure to be an amazing piece of art for my sweetheart's left arm. We had lunch at the Pioneer Restaurant in town (terrific ambiance but the food was not what you may have heard) and then headed to Pataskala for our first cones from Dairy Hut this season. Then it was home to do a little re-arranging and…

On top of the mountain, no where to go but up

I feel like I am on the precipice of something great. A meeting tonight and another next week will, if things go as planned, open the door to a new life for myself, my family, and my best friend Ralph. As stated in the last post, I am anxious, excited, and scared to death. But the people I am sitting down with will never know. It could be nothing. But it also has a very good chance of being something. And with life being where it is today, I have faith that it will be more than a thanks but no thanks when the moment of truth arrives.

I was talking to a girl in the office today. We were speaking about how things can change so rapidly, and my life is a testament to that. I stand on solid ground now. I have a beautiful home, amazing wife, and my three sons call my home their home full time. But not long ago, I was looking up at a mountain from the bottom, trying to discover the path to the top and finding that the first step was next to impossible to take.

At that time life felt like a …

Lose Yourself in the Moment

I am excited this morning. And nervous. And cautiously optimistic. What we are talking about here is the realization of a dream. A pipe dream that started with two friends, closer than brothers, sitting around bouncing ideas off of each other. Ideas flowed that day and have continued to form as we marched to the place we are today. And now, with hope in one hand and faith in the other, we await a meeting that could change our lives, our families lives, and our legacy forever.

I can be a head in the clouds guy. While I take my job very seriously, I often daydream about a better life for Tiffany, the boys, and myself. The zest I have for life, and wanting to experience as much of it as possible, has never taken a backseat to my career. Don't get me wrong, it is a great feeling to take someone's hand, look them in the eye, and tell them you are going to make it better after the flames are out and all that is left is the charred remains of a life they had built. Out of the ash we …