A thin red string wraps its way around Jennifer Gilbert’s wrist, a custom from Kabbalah, a type of Jewish mysticism, worn to ward off misfortune.
Touching the string lightly with her fingers, Gilbert, the wife of billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert, says she’s worn these strings only twice in her life. The second was when her husband suffered a stroke in late May.
“The entire family has these,” says Gilbert, speaking in the lower level offices of the commercial design firm, Pophouse, she helped found in the former Dime Building in downtown Detroit. “It was a way to connect all of us.”
Connection is important these days as Gilbert and her family move forward from Dan’s stroke, which hospitalized him for several days before he went to an in-patient rehab facility this summer in Chicago. Gilbert says her 57-year-old husband, now home, “is improving every day” though he still isn’t back at work.
“With stroke recovery, it’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint,” she said. “But every day he’s working hard, and every day we’re seeing improvements. He’s encouraged. And he’s up for the challenge.”
Her husband’s health crisis forced her to step back from her role at Pophouse (previously known as dPop). She says the summer was “definitely challenging,” but it was nice to have her children home, especially the three who were away at college, so they could be there to support their dad.