Grandpa Lou, the Optimist

An Optimist Who Lived With Intention

It has been a year since my husband Mark’s father died. His sister Barbara and I were there for the last test of life and the final blessing from a hospital priest. A year later, Lou’s gifts of unquestioning optimism and confidence seem more remarkable than ever. All his accomplishments began with a foundation of consistent hard work, but they were realized because he bone-deep believed in his ability to do great things. He was an optimist, and he lived each day with intention.

Lou’s native talent was athletics. He was invited to try out for the New York Yankees in high school and chose a college football scholarship instead. I believe he was most distinguished for his faith in himself. Lou was a wordsmith and he loved to tell stories, but writing was not a native gift. Still he dreamed of becoming a novelist. And when he retired he did because he lived with intention. With the can-do spirit he carried everywhere and a daily effort in long hand, he wrote eight books and published three. He set up appearances everywhere he could to sell those books year after year. When he turned 80, he became a columnist. At the age of 85, he was writing weekly columns for two newspapers. He was an optimist.

Two days before he died he whispered to us, “Never give up on your dreams.” From his quiet lips, a few of the last words he spoke, we gathered the treasure. It was the single piece of advice he gave us. They came from his faith and living with intention.

What do we do with precious words to keep them present? Lou would stir them in conversation again and again. Then he might write a column. He told the best versions of his stories at the dinner table, where he had our collective attention. Lou loved my business home goods Catherine’s Table, the storytelling, the artists. We would talk about it all. And he was never short on ideas. He had vision too.

Lou’s words, his wish that we live the life of our dreams, are with me always.