One of my favorite memories with my Dad this year was surprising him at his induction into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hallof Fame in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The banquet was held right around the time of the state tournaments in March. Basketball was a really big connector for my family—both watching and playing.
I wasn’t a great player by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m sure I was better because of Dad’s coaching and shooting hoops after supper. My Dad actually sent someone into the locker room at half time to tell me that I wasn’t getting my feet off the floor on my jump shots in a game against our rivals, Gregory. He was right and I don’t remember exactly, but I suspect that didn’t make me jump much higher.
It was a privilege to hear all of the other high school basketball stories from around South Dakota. We laughed, we cried and we celebrated hard work, talent and competitiveness.
So on this Father’s Day in 2017 thank you for helping create the woman I am today. And if you don’t feel like claiming any responsibility, well that’s OK too Dad. No harm. No foul.
The word “custodian” is my new favorite word and I want to share with you why. I was recently in a discussion about why my creative work has any relevance whatsoever in a world that has so many challenges. I always struggle with this. Should I really paint, write, make jewelry and shoot photographs when so many people are hungry, sick, sad and lonely?
I was then asked two questions:
1. Why were you given these abilities? 2. What could your creative work do to make the world a better place?
As I pondered these questions presented to me the word “custodian” surfaced. LOUDLY.
This word to me is a beautiful, humble mantra/prayer to be called upon often—someone who keeps and protects something valuable. I started thinking about the custodians of my high school when I was growing up—Edith and Andy. I used to go to school early to do my homework and talk to them as I sat in the hallway finishing up assignments. They were humble, thoughtful people who kept and protected my school. Custodians…
Being the custodian of our talents is necessary to allow them grow. If we choose to NOT be thoughtful custodians of our talents (whatever they may be) we are not holding up our end of the human bargain.
Lowell Louis Lillilbridge, Burke High School Graduation photo taken 1927. He was a young man way ahead of his time coming from a small town in South Dakota. I don’t think this was the graduation photograph that his father and stepmother particularly liked-it was perhaps even a bit scandalous in the day. Lowell (known as Louis) was graduating a year early and heading off to The University of Chicago to begin his studies. He had a remarkably keen intellect and was the most generous man I’ve ever known, both with his resources and spirit.
Lately, Grandpa has been visiting me in both my dreams and my waking life. I often ask him what to do when I have challenges in my life. I promise I am not going to get too (new age-y) here, I’ve just been thinking a lot lately about how much our ancestral knowledge plays a huge role in who we are and how we navigate the world. Grandpa died July 24th, 1986. I was 19 years old then and my sorrow when he died was felt into my bone marrow. Now as a 48 year old woman my access to him is much better understood. He’s a part of me physically (deep set Lillibridge eyes and a decent inseam) and in my spirit. In my dream last night he told me to “keep going and push harder”. I can interpret this a lot of ways right now in my life and I am going to pay attention. Thank you Grandpa for all that you’ve instilled in me. I am eternally grateful and I am listening.
A portrait of my Grandfather done by Linda Frasch in the late 1970s I would guess. My Mom just sent me this painting for my birthday. I have always loved it because of the style. It very much reminds me of the New Yorker artist Maira Kalman whom I adore.
Maira Kalman illustration from her 2012 book: And the Pursuit of Happiness