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When Big Louie took us for a ride

red convertible car

Leena Robinson | Shutterstock

Regina Andrews - published on 06/27/23

When Big Louie finally pulled into the driveway, everyone was out of breath and exhilarated. “One of the kids asked him: 'Can we go again soon?'" Big Louie looked at the little boy. “Of course we can,” he answered.

There was something electric in the air in our quiet little neighborhood on that steamy summer twilight. We were all sitting outside because it was so hot inside. Something felt different. The trees were still. The birds were silent. It was as if the whole atmosphere was waiting for something big to happen. But what was it? 

And then we found out.

Right in front of our eyes, a sleek, red convertible long as a football field thundered down the street. None of us had ever seen a car like that before.

“That guy must be lost,” Mrs. O’Grady snickered. 

But the car slowed to a stop in front of Mrs. O’Grady‘s house, and we all gasped in astonishment. It was Big Louie Carvalho, our neighbor.

Waving his arms in the air, he yelled: “Whatsa matter with you monkeys? You just gonna sit there? Get over here — we’re all going for a ride.”

Everything about Big Louie Carvalho was big: his presence, his stature, his booming voice, and his hands — they were the biggest hands I had ever seen. He lived in the biggest house on the street, he had the biggest vegetable garden (and he gave the produce away to all of us), and he had the biggest dreams while working in the rubber factory — all of his children were going to college.

Before we knew it, we were propped in the new convertible. I was in the back seat with four other kids jammed next to me, and my mother, my aunt, and my sister were in the front seat. We started to take off, but then we had to stop, because one of Big Louie’s daughters wanted to go too, so she squeezed in back with us. 

Big Louie hit the gas and off we went. There was a huge hill down at the end of our street. Everybody’s hair went flying all over the place. Big Louie didn’t stop talking the whole time. The neighborhood flashed by in a blur. I was screaming with delight, and I remember looking up at the clouds and thinking that we were on a magic carpet ride.

When Big Louie finally pulled into the driveway, everyone was out of breath and exhilarated. “One of the kids asked him: ‘Can we go again soon?'”

Big Louie looked at the little boy. “Of course we can,” he answered. “Remember: No matter what you have in life, it’s no fun unless you share it with somebody else. Remember that.”

After all the excitement of that day, Big Louie’s words blew right past me. But I often think of them now, realizing how special he was, and what a great spirit and generous heart he had. Oh yes, Big Louie, that is the Spirit, and sharing is what it’s all about.

~

This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.

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The Human Being Fully Alive
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