Make The Best Hand From The Cards You Are Dealt

Let me ask a question: Are you happy with what you have and where you are in life? If the answer is yes, I applaud you. If the answer is no, then what are you going to do about it? There are many circumstances in life beyond your control, but it is how you handle what is dealt to you that makes the difference in your ultimate happiness. You are solely in control of your existence, and although it’s easy to cast the blame onto others, you need to look into the mirror, and nowhere else.

My grandmother Viola was married to my grandfather, Louis. He is Louis Sr., my dad is Louis Jr. and I am the third Louis in the lineage. My grandfather was the general manager of a restaurant, and was on the fast-track for a very successful career. I say was, because when my dad was 11, my grandfather dropped dead from a massive heart attack. He was struck down at a very young age, and all that promise and hope expired with him.

It was quite a blow to my dad, my aunt and of course Grandma Viola. He was a true head of the family, and once gone, the three of them faced very different circumstances, where life was a bit bleaker and a lot less promising. Well, that would have been the case if my grandmother had been a different person. If she let that stop her, many would have understood; many, but not Viola.

She had two kids to fend for, and she rolled up her sleeves and got to work. She worked long hours and many years to make sure both my aunt and my dad were better positioned than she, ultimately affording my dad the opportunity to attend Mass College of Pharmacy. She accomplished this as a single mother, and received zero outside support from the government, or from anyone else for that matter, in a time when women’s employment opportunities were limited to jobs such as secretaries or blue-collar workers. There was no possibility for a C-Level position, no daycare, or any glass ceilings to even attempt to bust through for Grandma V.

For all her hard work and dedication to her family, my grandmother was rewarded with arthritis in her hands and knees. She wasn’t thinking, “My life sucks, so let me find someone to blame or sue to make things better.” She didn’t have her hand out hoping for a free lunch. She just did the only thing she knew how to do, live an honorable life dedicated to her children and their happiness.

Grandma Viola never remarried, never dated, and never even had a meal with another man. She had no interest in pretending that a man could be an adequate substitute for Louis Sr. No, she was on a mission and focused on her kids, which took away the sorrow and self-pity and provided her with joy and happiness. The only time she set aside for herself were a few hours playing cards for pennies with the girls in the neighborhood. Those Saturday night card games were all the “me” time she had or needed; otherwise, she was in “Do Mode” for her family.

Life will most likely deal you a hand that you are not completely happy with; heck, it quite easily will deal you a crappy hand. It’s not the hand that you are dealt that matters, it is how you play that hand. Don’t fold too quickly; work with the cards you have to make a better hand. I hope we all have it in us to play our hands the way Viola did.


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  1. Jack Walsh says:

    HI Lou,
    Nice piece, I wish we were the same nation now that we were back then, we are in a tailspin, that I hope we can recover from. We are way to short on Viola’s.

    1. Lou Imbriano says:

      Jack ~ It is clearly a different world and it’s our job to make sure our kids can preserve the honor of the past, while keeping the speed of the present. Thanks for your note.

      My best,

  2. What a woman.
    I love this piece and believe the portrait of a strong woman is your Grandma V. and not Beyonce.

  3. Lou Imbriano says:


    Grandma V was clearly a role model and understood honor and integrity. I hope her values and those of her generation do not become completely invisible. There is a lot to learn from them. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment.

    My best,

  4. Hey Lou – Great post as always – Isn’t it funny how the more things change the more they stay the same – Meaning – The best way to deal with the circumstances of today’s world require the same good old fashioned values and life skills your Grandma V and my Grandma Irma both had – Work as hard as you can, then work harder, leverage what you have to try to achieve what you want, and do it for the family you love – Nuclear or otherwise –

    Thanks Lou – All the Best, Jamie

    1. Lou Imbriano says:

      Hi Jamie,

      Thanks for the constant support and kind words. The values and determination our grandmothers had were a very powerful combination. Many would be wise to follow their lead.

      My best,

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