If you think that James Hamilton is just a brilliant quant, think again: He’s also a sensitive humanist. Here’s a moving tale of his father-in-law’s last year:

Jack’s last year was not an easy one. Everything was becoming increasingly difficult, and he came to spend most of his time in front of the TV watching nothing in particular. Margie and I were trying to figure out what we could do to bring some richness and meaning back to his life.

Our last inspiration was based on Jack’s childhood hobby– model trains. They still had a big collection of these packed up in boxes in the garage. Margie and I spent several weekends moving furniture around and constructing a big table that might serve as a train room. We thought of it as a long shot– Jack was losing interest in so much– but it seemed worth giving it a try.

The project turned out far more successfully than we had dreamed. Jack returned to the hobby with his boyhood passion, and spent almost all of his time in the room that was now all his. He threw his energy into painting the table and organizing the layout.

It turned out, in short, that Jack was a late-blooming kidult – and Hamilton showed him the way. Well done.