Sunday, January 21, 2007

Positive Dreaming

“…In my mind I’m goin’ to Carolina

Can't you see the sunshine

Can't you just feel the moonshine

Ain’t it just like a friend of mine

To hit me from behind

Yes I’m goin’ to Carolina in my mind…”

Aahh…the poetic lyrics of James Taylor, someone whose music I’ve come to know and appreciate more and more in recent years. His relaxing tones, easy voice and entertaining storytelling are something that I find I am able to appreciate as the years go on, especially in a time where most songs on the radio contain lyrics that consist of about five words, and are only intelligent enough to be able to describe some variation of sex using phrases I’ve never even heard of. Although I really don’t know what Mr. Taylor was imagining when he wrote this song, I can tell you that for me, this song represents my present…and my future.

My life in the last ten years has been anything but what I imagined it to be when I was young. I suffered through a divorce, I was a single parent for several years and then married a good man that came in a package deal with two children…plus an ex-wife who had trouble finding stability in her life, and a family that was mostly wonderful, but with problems of their own that unfortunately sometimes stemmed out to us. He was a painting contractor…the “finishing guy”…and although he had a business that was a well-oiled machine, he was never going to be in the six-figure income bracket, no matter what he did.

I had baggage of my own with two kids with Tourette syndrome…and the ADHD that goes hand in hand with that (we suffered through many screams and tears just to get homework done in two hours that should’ve taken 20 minutes). I also had an ex-husband who could be very unstable himself. Although I had returned to school in my early 20’s to major in art, I did not have the opportunity to finish because my mom had passed away, and my dad needed to sell our house. Shortly thereafter, I married and had children. After my divorce, I found myself floating from job to job just to find something enjoyable, lucrative, and that allowed me to leave at 3:00 so I could be home for my kids in the afternoons. I eventually ended up with two out of three (lucrative, part-time jobs that require no former schooling are a rarity on Long Island, and I imagine just about everywhere else as well). Still, I am not where I feel that I'm supposed to be forever.

Enter the power of positive thinking, and the ability to “dream”.

I admit that in my past, I had a tendency to be a “defeatist”—you know, the person whose personal dictionary features the words “I can’t”, “I’ll never” and “If only”, amongst other negative catch-phrases. The culmination of negativity inside of me surfaced after my mother had died. Hadn’t I spent years praying to God every night to “please never let anyone in my family get cancer, have a heart attack, acquire any fatal diseases”, and basically never, ever die? Why didn’t God hear me? I was so twisted in my thinking, that I felt as if everything was useless, and that maybe there just wasn’t a God after all, and we really were a cosmic accident. How could He let her die?

I realized after her funeral that one of my very dear friends, Ann, did not show up to the wake, nor did she even bother to call me at this heartbreaking time. When I brought this fact up to my best friend, she told me that Ann couldn’t come because she was in the hospital having surgery for…cancer. I remember thinking, “Cancer?!? But she’s only 22!” Ann eventually had to have three surgeries (the first initial one to remove an ovary, the second one where she was opened and closed immediately because the hospital was not equipped to handle the severity of her case, and the third time to remove all of her female organs—a complete hysterectomy before she even turned 23). I found it amazing, however, that during her chemotherapy, losing all of her hair, feeling sick as a dog—she was able to keep an upbeat attitude, and only believed for the best. She kept her sense of humor, even if it was self-deprecating, and tried to keep everyone around her thinking positive. I believe one of her biggest tools was a book called, “Love, Medicine and Miracles”, by Dr. Bernie Siegel. She gave me the book and insisted that I read it...telling me it would help me, even though my mom was not around anymore to benefit from it herself.

Reading this book opened my eyes to the power of positive thinking. I started to see how a negative attitude could prevent even the strongest of people from attaining health and vitality. Dr. Siegel describes how people can “will” away something as simple as a cold—how a child who was very sick one day could miraculously feel better the next day if they knew that they were going to do something enjoyable, such as go on a field trip. I started to understand what happened to my mother—she heard the word “cancer” and immediately gave herself a death sentence. There was no positive thinking on her part, except that she was “positively” going to die! Even though we, her family, begged her to go to Sloane Kettering (one of the most prominent cancer hospitals around, and located a mere 40 minutes away from us), she refused to go, saying it was “too much” for her. I don’t know about you, but I would go to the ends of the earth if it meant that I might have a chance to live a quality life and have a brighter future. I’m only sad that my mother wasn’t able to benefit from Dr. Siegel’s positive beliefs while she was still alive, especially since she had one of the most “curable” forms of female cancers.

Through the years, I tried to read more “self-help” books and tried to get rid of the negative framework in my brain. I found that for me, the secret to thinking positive was to have hope for the future, or a “dream”. When I went through my divorce, I got through it by thinking that God felt that I deserved to be treated better, and that there was someone else out there for me who would appreciate me. And I was right…I met a man who seemed to have positive thinking ingrained in his genes, which only helped me more. But imagine where I would be today if I stayed bitter and negative…if I didn’t allow myself to “dream” for a better future. It frightens me to even think about it.

With our situation being what it is, my husband and I have had our share of ups and downs—not with each other, but with those around us. Because we refuse to feel defeated—and there have been times when we were unsteady and almost fell into that pit—we are usually able to handle everything that comes our way, and trust me, there have been some “doozies”. Throughout it all, however, we have been able to overcome the negative with positive thoughts about our future. A future which seems to encompass the peace and tranquility that we desire in our lives right now, but because of our obligations, are unable to attain at this time. Occasionally, I'll do something as simple as placing an inspirational picture or decorative piece strategically in our home...something I'll pass often that will remind me of things that are yet to come, such as the "Dream" sign that rests upon my fireplace mantel. Sometimes the simple things really do count.

One of our dreams is to own a home in the country. A nice, big place with plenty of property so our kids can visit with their families and have room to “run around”. A place where we look out our window and can’t help but feel positive because the view will allow nothing less than a sense of wonder an awe at the miraculous beauty of nature. A place where our friends and family can go to escape the negativity of their own lives, even if it’s only for a day or two. In my dream, I’m cooking breakfast for the multitudes and making them my famous pancakes, bacon, eggs, and coffee. The snow could be falling outside on the evergreens, with my Christmas tree twinkling in the corner of the family room…or the summer sun could allow us to sit on the deck and soak up the view of mountains rising majestically over a lake, blooming flowers and wild birds gathering around the birdfeeder located just outside of my vegetable garden. There’s soft music playing in the background, and everyone is relaxed, de-stressed and un-pressured. However, since this is but a dream right now, I decided that I can not allow myself to wait until we own said country home to feel the pleasures of what I long for.

This morning I decided to make my pancake breakfast for the gaggle of teens that slept over last night. I put on James Taylor, and listened intently as “Carolina in My Mind” played in the background:

“In my mind, I’m goin’ to Carolina…can’t you see the sunshine…can’t you just feel the moonshine…”

In reality, I know that I’m in my crowded house full of teens that come with all of their teen stressors. I know that today is Sunday, and another stressful week of work awaits me tomorrow. I realize that there are family issues that are a long way off from being ironed out at this time. But I’ve “...up and gone to Carolina in my mind”. In my thoughts, I imagined myself in the country, cooking over my old stove in a kitchen at least twice the size of the tangible one I was standing in. I did “see the sunshine”, and I felt happy, as though I did have a taste of “moonshine”. Yes, right now that country home—which will most likely not be anywhere near a Carolina—is all “in my mind”. However, I believe with all of my heart that someday, somewhere—if we continue to think positively—our dream will come to fruition. My proverbial “Carolina” will finally be my reality.

Footnote: Ann is currently 44, has been married for almost 20 years, and has two beautiful adopted daughters.

For further insight on positive thinking, I invite you to visit Carine at and read her most recent post. And for proof positive that a peaceful life in the country can be attained, pop on over to Matty’s post "Never Say Never" at

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Hero That Brought Our Family Together

Stepfamilies are a unique bunch. Depending on the circumstances, the union of a man and a woman who each have children of their own can be wonderful, mediocre or downright disheartening. My husband and I were very fortunate to have kids who not only get along, but have a genuine love for each other, even though they don’t share the same genes. This is a true blessing, and we consider ourselves very, very lucky.

With times being what they are, however, my husband and I were finding that we weren’t seeing all that much of the kids. Which is actually kind of funny, because most days, the three younger ones are here at the house—my stepdaughter downstairs in her room on her computer, my daughter upstairs on her computer, and my son outside riding bikes with his friends and popping in to raid the refrigerator every half-hour or so. I would love to say that I have the time to take my daughters somewhere every afternoon so that they’re not holed up staring at their monitors, but the sad truth is that I’m really busy. I leave my very active job and pick up my kids from school…and that’s when the second half of my day begins. By the time I finish picking up my kids (one at 2:30, one at 3:10, the other at 4:00 because he has track), running errands (supermarket, post office, bank, etc.), taking them to work, doctor and dentist appointments, supply shopping—you name it—I don’t usually get to start dinner until after 5:00. That’s when the third half (okay, the third third) of my day starts…eating, cleaning up from dinner, perhaps squeezing in a walk, a yoga class or the gym, showering…I don’t have time left over to do much of anything other than collapse into bed.

About two months ago, my husband and I decided that we really needed one night a week where all six of us sat down at a table together and ate dinner, instead of the two, three, or—if we were lucky—four people that usually showed up. We picked a pizzeria in a town close by, and now on Thursdays we all gather and catch up with one another. Since we realized how much we enjoy each other’s company, this has turned into quite the event, especially for the pizzeria owners. They told us that they look forward to our visits (and our antics) every single week! Around Christmas time, we decided to take a family portrait which consisted of the red checker table cloth for a background, and each member’s head atop a different condiment—garlic powder, salt, pepper, cheese, etc.—the owners admired the fun we were having so much that they requested a copy for themselves!

Yes, Thursdays are fun, but there’s still the empty hole that’s left between Friday and Wednesday. Enter “Guitar Hero”. If you’re not familiar with this video game for Playstation 2, let me introduce you. “Guitar Hero” is a game that consists of a mini-guitar (we have two), a disc, and a TV screen. Along the lines of “Dance Dance Revolution”, one has to press the chords (five different colored frets at the neck of the handheld guitar) to famous rock songs as the corresponding color comes down a little “runway” (or guitar neck) on the screen. Here is the history of the game in our family:

Last Christmas, my daughter requested this game from “Santa”. She received it, only to realize afterward that we no longer had “Playstation 2” because it had broken (it helps to note here that my children’s dad gives them his “hand-me-down” game systems…hence the reason that I wasn’t even aware that we didn’t have “Playstation 2” anymore, because they basically had every other game system, so no one ever informed me). A year went by, and “Guitar Hero” sat in my daughter’s very messy closet, totally untouched…perhaps waiting for the day that we relented and spent the $110.00 to buy a used “Playstation 2” so it could finally be used.

On Christmas Eve of 2006, we went to my cousin’s house for the festivities. During the course of the night, my son went into the basement to play video games, and came across “Guitar Hero”. That was it. One game, and he was hooked! After Christmas, he took all of his gift cards and gift money, and went to the game store to buy a used “Playstation 2” so that he could use his sister’s “Guitar Hero” that’s been gathering dust in her closet for the last 12 months. That was December 26th, and he hasn’t put the game down yet (except for his daily visits to school…and he’s actually playing “Freebird” as I write this)!

Before we knew it, “Guitar Hero” had become somewhat of a phenomenon amongst the four kids. Where there used to be the silent clicking of computer keys, there was now the blaring electric strains of Guns N Roses, Boston, and various other artists followed by the screams, moans and belly laughter belonging to none other than—you guessed it—our kids! Most of them skipped over the “easy” and “medium” level, and made it to the “hard” level within a week. My son and daughter took it one step further and didn’t quit until they made “expert”—quite a feat for only having the game for a week! Oh, and did I mention that my husband and I have gotten in on the action as well? Not only do we play with our kids, but just the other night we battled guitars to Cheap Trick’s “Surrender”. Nothing like a little healthy competition between a couple to spice things up…especially when I win!

Okay, I know. I’m exuberant over a video game. Yes, I realize that it may seem like I've finally fallen off the deep end...after all, I am in my 40's. I'm supposed to hate video games and blame the demise of our country on them and MTV. And although there may be some valid reasoning to that, all I can defend myself with is that there is no sound sweeter in this world to me than the hysterical laughter of my four kids, especially when it’s in perfect harmony in my living room. A heroic feat by any means!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Remembering Lou

(It's hard to condense a long life into a short post...which is why this one's longer than usual! But there's a reason that I needed to tell this story today. I would like to introduce you to my father, Lou.)

This is a condensed story of my dad, Louis Francis Scarnato (or, "Luigi Frangisci Scarrrrnato", as he used to love to pronounce it). Lou spent most of his childhood in Brooklyn, NY. He was the oldest of four children, born to Joseph and Rose Scarnato. During his teenage years, he acquired the nickname of “Screwy Louie”, a name affectionately bestowed on him by his own family. Apparently, my dad went against the grain…he had his own agenda, whatever that was, and he did his own thing apart from the family most of the time. However, he held a very special place in his heart for his beloved grandmother, who lived close by. He would visit her almost every day, plop himself down in her kitchen, and eat her homemade bread that she baked each morning. According to him, he would occasionally miss school in order to spend time with her.

One of the first major life events that sculpted my dad’s future was the death of his grandmother. As the story goes, she died in the kitchen where she spent most of her time, and my father apparently witnessed this horrible scene. I say apparently, because each member of our family has heard a different version of this particular story, but irregardless, his life would never be the same. He had often said that his grandmother was more of a mother to him than his own, and he missed her terribly. He spoke of her even after he was a grandfather himself.

When Lou was 18, he went to a party with several cousins and friends. He noticed a very beautiful, young girl conversing with her friends on the other side of the room, and just knew he had to meet her…but didn’t quite know how to go about it. During the course of the party, a game was played where the girls picked papers out of one hat, and the boys picked papers out of another hat. Each paper in the girl’s hat had an item written on it—for example, “coat”—and the boy’s hat contained papers with things that would go with the items that the girls had, such as “jacket”. The boy and girl who had the similar match would then be coupled off to dance together. Very cunningly, my father found out that the pretty girl’s paper said “brush”…not good, because his paper said “fork”! So he found his friend who had “comb”, and bribed him into switching papers with him! And history was made with a switch of two small scraps of paper. He met the woman who would eventually become his wife—his “Helene”.

At nineteen, my father joined the Air Force and went off to do his duty in World War 2. He flew thirteen combat missions, crashing once and finishing his tour of duty with many, many stories that he would tell for years to come. When he came home, he married Helene (who eventually took the "e" off the end of her name), and they began a life together that would produce two children (myself being one of them), and that would last until she died of cancer and was buried on their 40th wedding anniversary in 1985.

My dad loved to perform. He taught himself to read music and play the piano, and wrote several songs throughout his life, including “My Helene”, which he had copyrighted and published. He was a master at “boogie woogie”: his jazzy style could make anyone tap their toes and jump out of their seat. The piano literally bounced up and down when he played! Ironically, his younger brother actually became a famous comedian, working with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. My father often tagged along with his brother and loved to be a part of this stellar crowd. No matter what, however, my dad never once showed any envy or jealousy toward his beloved brother. He was always happy for him, even though deep down we knew he must’ve wanted even a little taste of fame for himself.

Lou plugged away at being an engineer. The man could fix anything, and often did…there was always someone calling our house with a request for him to come over and fix a washing machine, a dryer, a dishwasher…and he would be more than happy to stop whatever he was doing and help them out. His sense of direction was unmatched…he loved maps, and could get himself anywhere without making a mistake. However, he did tend to suffer from extreme road rage, and would drive 40 minutes out of his way to chase someone who cut him off, being sure to use his extended vocabulary of curse words the whole time. We’re not quite sure why he did this; but it seemed to satisfy some primal urge inside of him, and he eventually would calm down and get back on track!

Yes, his temper was very intimidating sometimes. Although he never laid a hand on me as a child, there wasn’t one time that he yelled at me that I didn’t wet my pants! He didn’t yell often, but when he did, watch out! True to his “screwiness”, within five minutes of him causing me to empty my bladder, he would be sheepishly laughing and wondering how I could be so scared of him. The man truly had no idea that he could be scary; he honestly didn’t view himself that way! Unfortunately, this might be the reason some people call me “Looney Lisa”.

Although I could go on and on with endless stories of my dad (there are always future posts to write), let’s fast forward into the future a little, after my mom had died. My father loved my mother. He really, truly did. He was not always the best-behaved husband; he did like to drink a little too much sometimes. But when that woman was sick, there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for her. After her death, he went into a depression that seemed to last for years.

Eventually, he acquired a rental apartment in a senior complex. This literally saved his life—he began to perform at holiday functions, and helped organize a comedy/musical troupe that traveled to different senior centers throughout our area. He was THE MAN. There wasn’t one woman who didn’t want to be with my dad…his white hair, his impeccable dress…and he always smelled really good, to boot! But one woman caught his eye, and since her name was “Helen”, he decided that this relationship was meant to be.

Lou and Helen carried on a little love affair for several years at the senior center before deciding to move to Florida together. My brother and I were not thrilled with this arrangement; Helen didn’t want to get married because she was still collecting social security from, um, one of her former husbands. She wasn’t the warmest of human beings, and we weren’t really sure what her intentions were concerning my father. But being the stubborn Italian that he was, he went anyway, and they purchased a small home on the East coast.

My dad didn’t visit too often once he moved, but he seemed happy and was continuing to delight people with his piano playing at the clubhouse, and keeping busy by playing golf, riding his bike and working as a “greeter” at Wal-Mart—the perfect job for him, being that he was so outgoing. Over the course of the next couple of years, we noticed that he was drinking a little more, and calling to complain about his companion after imbibing in one too many. It seemed he was having an issue over her refusal to marry him, to really commit. Little did we know what was to come.

In his 75th year, at a holiday party at the clubhouse down the road, he began to argue with Helen. He drank more martinis than I care to mention and became agitated and obnoxious, as he often did if he drank anything other than beer. Helen became annoyed at him, and walked home from the party. My father drove home a short time later, pulling the car so far up the driveway that he almost went through the house. He stumbled out of his car; wobbling, he lost his balance and fell head first into the windshield. That blow most likely knocked him out, and he fell down onto the cement. Watching all this from her window, Helen decided that she was going to leave him there rather than see if he was okay. A short time later, some neighbors knocked on her door to inform her that he was lying in the driveway, and only then did she make an effort to bring him inside. Nothing was done for my father. No ambulance was called. He was put to bed, and that was that. He wasn’t himself the next day, or the day after that; by day three, he was wetting himself and he didn’t know his name. Helen finally got him to the hospital, where it was discovered that he had a huge hematoma on his brain due to the fall. Surgery was imminent. Only then did she call me to tell me the whole saga, and I was quite surprised by her honesty.

He seemed to make it through the surgery with flying colors; his speech was a little slow, and he was unable to move as quickly as he once had. He seemed on the road to recovery until he developed more blood on his brain, and had to have another surgery. During this period, I would fly down and visit him several times, each time my heart breaking more at his deterioration. Eventually, he recovered enough that Helen thought it would be a good idea if he flew up to New York for my son’s First Communion.

The last time my father had visited , about six months before his accident, he sat at my piano and played for what seemed like hours. He had on his Izod sweater and his neatly pressed jeans, and his thick, white “combover” made him look ten years younger than what he actually was (he learned how to “fake” having hair the professional way from Frank Sinatra’s stylist years before…this wasn’t your everyday, greasy, three-haired “combover”). But the man who came off the plane in a wheelchair was feeble and old-looking; there was no hair on the top of his head, only scars from the surgeries. His legs were skinny, his trunk was puffy. But then, there it was: That crooked, warm smile and the slurred joke about not being able to go to the bathroom for three hours. He was still Lou.

He was still able to walk short distances, and he enjoyed himself at the communion and several other outings during his week-long stay. He went back to Florida with a good attitude, and I really felt that there was hope that he would improve. I was wrong.

More blood developed on his brain, and he had to have another surgery. He then had several “mini-strokes”, and really started to deteriorate to the point that he could no longer walk or use the bathroom. Helen did her best to take care of him; I believe that she felt guilty for what she had (or hadn’t) done several years before on that fateful night. But eventually, he became too much for her to handle, and he had to go into a nursing home. The last time we visited him as a family, he was unable to remember my name…he knew that he knew me, he just couldn’t place where he knew me from. When I told him I was his daughter, I was never really sure if he was telling the truth that he remembered me. He didn’t remember his grandkids, and he especially didn’t remember my husband or his children, either. But he was so pleasant and kind during our visit…he didn’t speak much, but when he did, he always tried to have a humorous demeanor about him. Once when he dozed off, we spoke with his roommate, who was listening to Frank Sinatra CD’s. He told us how he loved to listen to Frank, and other artists from that era. I said to him, “Well, then, you must LOVE my father’s stories about Frank Sinatra!” He looked at me curiously, as if he had no clue what I was talking about. I added, “I’m sure my father told you about his brother, the comedian, and all of his Sinatra stories?” His roommate looked at me sadly and said, “Your father doesn’t talk.” I knew then and there that Lou was no longer himself…only a mere shell of the vibrant life force that had graced this earth for 83 years.

Last December 31st, Helen called me to tell me that my dad wasn’t doing well. They thought he had pneumonia, and it didn’t look good, but he had pulled out of pneumonia before and she wasn’t sure what was going to happen. The next morning, on New Year’s Day, I called the hospital and spoke with his nurse. She told me that he was probably not going to make it this time, and made it clear that he could last a day, several days, maybe a week. I hung up the phone sadly. This was how it was going to end…and the next time I saw my father, it would be in a casket. Something came over me, and I immediately called the airline to get on the next flight. I made arrangements for my kids, and decided to fly myself down to Florida for 24 hours. I just knew I had to be with my dad, to see him one last time.

I always flew into Orlando airport when I visited my dad. There was an airport closer to the nursing home, but it was small and inefficient, and I couldn’t fly on Delta or Jet Blue to get there. Orlando was an hour away from the nursing home, so I knew once I got off that plane that I had to bolt to the rental car booth and pick up my vehicle. Of course, there was a problem with the car they assigned me, and I had to wait several minutes for them to get me another one. I felt anxious, like time was wasting away, and I tried to calm myself down so that I could drive the dark, desolate Bee Line Expressway with a clear head.

I drove for a little over and hour, and finally found the hospital after accidentally going in the direction of the nursing home by habit. I parked the car and ran into the emergency entrance, the only entrance that was open, being that it was now 11pm. I inquired with some very kind security gentlemen as to how to get to the second floor, and they pointed me in the right direction. When I got to the second floor nursing station, a quiet, soft-spoken nurse asked me who I was there to see. When I told her “Lou Scarnato”, she held my hand and looked at me. “I want you to know that he’s nearing the end,” she softly said. “I didn’t want you to be surprised and I wanted you to be prepared for that when you saw him.” I thanked her, and assured her that I knew he wasn’t doing well and that’s why I made the trip down.

The hospital was quiet and peaceful. There was soft lighting and remnants of Christmas still decorating the counters and moldings. I had never seen a carpet throughout a hospital, but this place seemed more like an upscale hotel with its hunter green and gold, grand-designed wall-to-wall. The nurse walked me to my father’s room, which was dimly lit, the window curtain still opened to the black night outside. My father lay still and quiet, his mouth open as if he were about to snore. “Oh!!” she yelped, and stopped in her tracks. “…I think he just passed!”

“…Right NOW??” I said unbelievably. “You mean, just this minute?!?”

“Yes, yes…I was just in here a half-hour ago! He must’ve waited until you got here.”

Well, well, I thought. Isn’t that just like Screwy Louie? Always in a rush to go where he wanted, when he wanted. He didn’t want to wait anymore. He wanted to be with Helene. He wanted to be with his parents, with his beloved grandmother…even his pets, animal lover that he was. Couldn’t he wait just five minutes longer? But it dawned on me. He did wait. He waited for me to take that three-hour flight. He waited for me to drive an hour down that dastardly Bee Line Expressway; he waited for me as I got my streets mixed up once I got into town. He waited until I got to the hospital…and waited until I got to his room. Yes, he did wait for me. I walked over to his body, still warm with tiny beads of sweat on his forehead. I kissed him and gave him a hug. I spoke to him and thanked him for waiting for me to get there. Then I looked out the window into the still of the night and imagined my father and my mother, hand in hand, waving to me from outside. I knew with all of my heart that she had come to take him to his new home, and I felt great peace.

I admit, I did think to myself, “What a way to start the New Year.” But in essence, I knew that the year was starting off on a positive note, as strange as that sounds. My father could finally be Lou again. He was finally free of living in the prison of his own, non-functional body. He was at peace with God, whom he loved and respected his whole life. And that led our family to peace.

During the moment of worship usually reserved for prayer at his wake, the priest stated that instead of the usual spiritual music that he normally played, he decided to find another piece that he felt would better suit Lou. He asked us to bow our heads in prayer, and clicked the “play” button on his tape player. To our surprise, a piano started to play the most lively, fun-loving “boogie-woogie” music we had heard since the days that my father had played for us! And I knew that wherever Lou Scarnato was, he was playing once more.

Louis Francis Scarnato: April 2, 1922—January 1, 2006. Happy one-year anniversary in heaven, Daddy.