a sunrise walk with my Dad…

This morning I awakened at about the time I got the call from my sister two years ago letting me know that our father had died. I get up early, not usually in the 4 o’clock hour though.

I wasn’t surprised I stirred early today with Dad on my mind. I got up, quietly pulled on yesterday’s clothes, and waited for the clock on the stove to say 5:00 before I made my coffee. I sat outside and watched the sun begin to rise over the Cape Cod Bay.

My Dad was not an early riser, definitely more of a sunset guy but he would’ve appreciated my sunrise images, especially the coyote tracks in the sand and my obsession with them now.

The coyote is the mascot of my Dad’s much-loved, alma mater—the University of South Dakota. GO YOTES!

A few days before Dad died I called to tell him that Jeff and I got stung by jellyfish while on a kayak excursion. We were FaceTiming so I showed him the welts on my arms and described the way they stung…sort of electric-like if my memory serves me correctly. I had a flight booked to come see him in a few days so we kept our call short.

This morning I remembered a song Dad used to sing to me:

Lisa, Lisa I’ve been thinkin’

what a fine world this would be,

if all the Lisa’s were transported…

far beyond the northern sea.

I miss you Dad, thanks for the company this morning.

Thank you Grandpa Lillibridge for the enormous influence you’ve had on my life.

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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.

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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.MK_Chapter2-4._V196582876_

Maira Kalman illustration from her 2012 book:  And the Pursuit of Happiness