gratitude-a-thon day 365: grateful for Louie

This is Uncle Louie’s truck. A long time ago, he used to use it to sell fruits and vegetables on the back roads of Connecticut. His son Paul brought it up and parked it outside the house as we mourned.

It’s been a week since I last posted. Death will do that to you. Especially if it’s someone you love very, very VERY much and you will be helping to make the funeral happen. And that was the case. Yes, I know that at 91, you have gotten a longer run than most, but still, this death shook me like a martini at Harry’s Bar. I felt raw and numb, and disoriented and grateful and like I wanted to cry about everything bad that’s ever happened to me since kindergarten, all at the same time.

The thing is, the experience of losing Louie, had some moments where gratitude was monster big. Beautiful flowers and cards, meaningful and supportive words from friends, all felt like a warm blanket on a 2014 winter night (or March day, for that matter–it’s 16 out there this morning, people). It’s sort of amazing what a few words will do for a person when they’re in pain. If you ever think, “I should send a card,I should call” but then you get busy and forget, get unbusy and do it. You might just have an overall impact on someone’s shitty experience that will make a profound difference.

Two of my oldest friends, one from fourth grade, and one from freshman year of high school came to the wake and surprised me. Seeing Linda and Steph really soothed me. It was an effort for them to come, but it was a game changer for me and really helped me through an unspeakably painful night.

Being with my extended family, who came from all over the place to mourn the loss of our family’s patriarch, was perhaps what I am most grateful for. Because it reminded me where and what I come from. I am made up of aunts and uncles and cousins, and drop in visits, and picnics and days at the beach and weddings and babies and holidays and shared happiness and sadness. I grew up in the belly of an Italian family who nurtured me and gave me security to be the person I am on this day. I carry that family with me in my heart whether I’m grocery shopping or using my favorite swear word (say it with me, “fuck”). They give me strength when I feel like a 95 pound weakling. Although the first generation all lived in the same town, we’re  now all spread out in California, New York, Illinois, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Now we don’t see each other unless there’s a funeral. And that, is maybe sadder than the funeral itself.

Anyway, I am back to the blog I’m so grateful to and the readers who I appreciate enormously for making me laugh and cry and continue to remember to be grateful every damn day. And while I didn’t think this was what I’d write about to celebrate my 365th post, I guess that’s what makes life interesting. As Woody Allen said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” But maybe it’s a good way to celebrate the gratitude-a-thon’s year anniversary, being grateful to a man who gave me a dad when I didn’t have one, and modeled a really beautiful way to live: in the present, doing what you love to do.

This was what we called “Big Lou’s garden.” He loved to grow things. His is one of my most favorite backyards.


8 thoughts on “gratitude-a-thon day 365: grateful for Louie

  1. Toni, I’m so sorry for your loss. Death is never ever easy -even even when someone is old , ill or

  2. We love this man! His garden!!! and his truck!! You must keep that truck forever! Toni, you’ve done such a wonderful job of sharing your Uncle Louie with all of us!! You are spreading his spirit!!! xoxoxo

  3. Bravo — 365 creative, clever, entertaining, informative, funny, and well crafted blogs.. Your daily pieces have been a delight to read and have made their mark. In addition to entertaining, they are thought provoking, insightful and provide food for thought many days. A major accomplishment and one that should be celebrated after you decompress from your loss of a dear family member. I hope all of your readers will join me in a virtual toast for this accomplishment.. Go Toni — another great 365 blogs to come I hope.

  4. Yes, what she said! All that. Don’t stop! Your words and wit always brighten my day.
    Thank you for the columns on Uncle Louie, he was a prince. So my heart and sympathy go out to you and his big family. How wonderful that you and Joannie were there to bring it all together.

    1. oh jane, thanks so much. he was such a great guy. i think you must have met him. he was just an original. hope you’re doing well and getting through this silly winter. xoxooxoxoxox

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