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Memoirs of a Minyan: Behind Closed Doors

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The purpose of the journey is the journey itself.

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I still wrote my column for TheStreet.com (TSCM) and enjoyed the platform. There were a collection of intelligent thinkers on the site and friendships were forged as a function of respect.

During the early months of 2001, my grandfather Ruby, my best friend and moral mentor, spent much of his time in intensive care. I traveled to Florida on weekends to hold his hand and absorb his energy. It was a tough time for our family as we said goodbye to our patriarch, a dose of reality in an otherwise euphoric time.

It was life. And it was death.

As I chewed through the market with a faceless audience of millions, I told the tale of Ruby. It was then I realized the power of the Internet and the catharsis of writing. We received thousands of emails that we read to him on his deathbed. Each was a story of love and loss, be it a son, father, mother or sibling.

That was the genesis of loyalty to my readers, a connection that remains to this day. If people I've never met could help my family through such a tough transition, I would certainly find time to return the favor.

I settled into my dual role of "trader who writes" but the irony wasn't lost on me. I was the president of Cramer Berkowitz and wrote the lead trading diary on TheStreet.com, both of which were positions that Jim previously held.

Ours was a delicate relationship, buffered on both sides by business and money. Jim had influence on our investors because he kept a large portion of his money with us while I managed the fund with Jeff and Matt and generated views on TheStreet.com. We had a vested interest in keeping each other happy and despite a persistent, underlying tension, we balanced the act and played the game.

In March of 2001, United Cerebral Palsy honored me for outstanding achievement. I wasn't sure why I was chosen but I was happy to drive attendance to such a worthy cause. With the help of some friends, we secured Run-DMC to perform. I reached out to our coverage on Wall Street, those we paid commission to, and we sold out the event.

I could feel that Ruby was close to passing and almost skipped the ceremony to be with him. At the request of my family, I stayed and accepted the award. Jim stepped to the podium and lauded me as the best trader on Wall Street and the best writer at TheStreet.com.

That was Jim -- all or nothing. I didn't agree with his assessment but the words were humbling to hear. I smiled at him in a knowing way; while our professional relationship was untenable, I genuinely cared for the man.

As it would turn out, that speech was the apex of our personal relationship..

Saying Goodbye and Opening Up

Ruby Peck passed away on April 21st, 2001 and it was a punch to the gut. Our performance picked up where we left off the previous year but as anyone who's lost someone can tell you, perspective arrives quickly when you say goodbye to someone you love.

It was a soulful time in my life, a period of growth and maturity. My grandfather's final words, played in a video that aired at the UCP benefit, were, "I don't know if I taught him a lot, but I sure hoped he learned a lot."

He did and, by extension, so did I.
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