Family should always come first

Family should always come first

March 29, 2019 3:00 AM
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In my profession, there are no busier days in the year than this past four-day weekend. It has been absolute bedlam. 

When it is March Madness, I have to be so mentally “dialed in” given the amount of capital that my team and I put to work. This is my job. Some people may think it’s glamorous, and at times, it does feel that way. 

Most people working their regular jobs sometimes have the big events that occur in the workplace, apart from the week-to-week routine. Whether it be a sales pitch, a big project to complete or putting on a banquet for thousands of people. You have to gear up and prepare yourself for a short window of insane business activity. 

It just so happens that during this period of intensity with my career, a personal challenge is also taking place. Unfortunately, my mother has recently taken quite ill. So then all the clichés come to mind: “When it rains it pours,” “Timing is everything,” etc. 

Oh, and with all of this happening, the debut of the Showtime series that I am a part of, “Action,” took place this past Sunday night. 

In the middle of this tumultuous time for my business, and my mother being ill, I had a business obligation with PointsBet NJ on the East Coast. When you fly for five hours on an airplane, it gives one some time to gain a little perspective.

I arrived about six hours early for my obligation, so I decided to visit the Hungarian cemetery in North Jersey where my great grandparents and many family members are buried. All of the memories came rushing back to me like a SportsCenter highlight clip.  

My grandfather told me that when he was just nine years old, the Spanish flu of 1918 swept across North Jersey and took many lives, including eight of his brothers and sisters, as well as his father. In his family, only my grandfather, his mother and one sister survived. He was just nine years old at the time. 

He told me that at the time it was so cold outside the ground was frozen and everyone on the block had to stack the coffins on the front lawns. The cemetery has literally hundreds and hundreds of children buried along the farthest fence in mass graves that I only happily found with the Hungarian church’s help a few years back. 

You would think this had to be detrimental to a 9- year-old, losing 90 percent of your family.  However, he was so tough that he just never showed it. Eventually, I went on to ask my great Aunt Mary (his sister), and this was the only way I could get him to even open him up about it. Like many Europeans that immigrated here, he was very stoic, but yet a gentle giant to his own family. 

I was his first grandson and I think that softened him up a little. We got along so great. He took me to many places, including cross-country trips when I was a child. I could not wait until August every year because I knew Grandpa and Grandma vacationed that month, and I would be going with them. 

So last weekend, I decided to drive less than a mile from that cemetery over to the house my great grandfather built 100 years ago, which still stands today. My grandfather lived in this house for over 60 years. I sat out front for almost two hours writing notes for this very article. 

You see, my grandfather was a union electrician that worked at a UPS depot; in fact, he got me a job loading trucks at 19. This job had a fantastic future with great benefits. I think I lasted a month before quitting. He was so upset with me. 

Unfortunately, a sales job, union job or anything involving physical labor was not in my cards.  Don’t get me wrong, I respect all people who work to provide for themselves and their families. I had a different calling. To quote from the movie, “The Godfather,” “This is the life I’ve chosen.” 

And here is the interesting thing. Through the years, my work was usually viewed as rogue. “Shady” is too strong of a term; more likely questionable to those me and my colleagues call “squares.” It is considered by some to be not real or not legitimate. However, sports betting has now gone mainstream. Seven states have joined the pioneering Nevada in an attempt to bolster their tax revenue. Sports betting has come out from the shadows.  

That is not to say that illegal and offshore book-making will not continue to exist. Of course they will. However, as the years pass and more states adopt legislation the industry will become normalized. 

Which all brings me back to my grandfather, who knew that I gambled and hated it. He would always tell me that gambling is evil and that I should never start.

I only wish my grandfather could see me “go legit,” so to speak --a real business with solid opportunities. The honor of being chosen by a national cable network to be profiled for my profession. All the while hoping that my mom can overcome these latest challenges in her life.  

I guess the more important line from that epic movie I mentioned earlier is, “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.” Like you Grandpa, I feel like I have made the most of my life and want to let you know you can be proud of me just like I am of you. 

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