Our lives are truly a vapor, a wisp in time, dust on the scales when measured against eternity, past and future. However, in the short stay that sums up our life, we find certain men and women who shape our behaviors, thoughts, and actions. These people can be world renowned for their talent and gifts but are most often overlooked. They are here among us. The hard working, able to think for themselves, break a new trail, rise above their circumstances not enslaved to entitlement, victimization, and vices, looking out for their family, friends and neighbor’s best interest. This is just a broad stroke that illustrates an inspirational person or leader. What has become so rare, dare I say almost extinct in what is depicted and idolized in our news, media, and politics today. We hunger for people that are genuine. I need to note that the inspirational individuals I am generalizing are still human, prone to make mistakes and make a mess of things, however in doing harm or wrong they are convicted of what is right and good by conscience. Quick to apologize and make good on what was wronged. Able to listen and keep their accounts short with people around them. In one word, they possess another rare trait, humility.
One such man who has been an inspiration and made a profound impact on my short life thus far is Rob Brewer. Born on November 22nd 1949 in Barre, Massachusetts. He served in Vietnam, father to two, grandfather to three grandchildren. I met Rob before I had the capacity to remember. He was a close friend to my father. Growing up in Brattleboro, Vermont my father worked at (Cersosimo) Lumber Company alongside, Rob. So, I can say that he knew who I was before I got to know who he was. Rob was a salt of the earth kind of guy. (I know there are more men like him out there today, but I feel like the mold has been broken on these types of men.) Some would say that Rob was rough around the edges, and crude. But if you carried on a conversation for more than 10 seconds with him you would see a big heart and a desire to help by giving you the shirt off his back, you would walk away laughing at his sense of humor and perceptive on the world around him. Rob loved his work, he loved everything about the lumber business. From being out in the woods logging, to running a sawmill, driving a truck, answering the phone, he did it all and was not afraid of the large or menial tasks. He was the kind of guy who at the height of his career running a million-dollar business would not be up in a fancy office in a suit and tie but be out on the forklift or at the end of the grading chain stacking lumber. He was not one to put his feet up. He loved his job. It was his passion and love for work, his work that inspires me still this day, to work with the same degree of passion and attention to detail as he did.
Right out of high school I started working alongside my father and Rob as a lumber broker, I bought and sold hardwood lumber as a commission salesman for Rob at Lumberjack Lumber. Today run by his daughter, Meghan Brewer with the company name now as Henniker Forest Products and New Leaf Lumber. Given the nature of the job, I often had to go out and visit various sawmills and customers to better gauge the manufacturing quality of lumber, and the specific needs of our customers. It was on these trips driving all over New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Ontario CA, that I was a captive audience of Rob’s stories, poems, and sayings. We would talk about our work, life, sobriety, and all things in between. While traveling with Rob I was able to see firsthand a fraction of what Rob had been doing and accomplished throughout his career, all that he had learned, and again his passion for his work. Looking back now I can say that there is something I was attracted to and respected in my time spent with Rob. When you can spend time with someone who is a master at their craft it is like watching an artist paint a picture or write a song. When one loves what they do it’s motivating to be around that person. Robert Frost says it nicely, “My goal in life is to unite my avocation with my vocation, as my two eyes make one in sight.”