Join Waukesha resident Brien Lee and his blog, Sir Fido, as they explore the city and report on the interesting things they find.
Email Brien at email@example.com.
A fellow blogger passed away a week ago today. He was born and died in June... with eighty years in between. He led a very interesting and full life, spoke many languages and had friends around the world.
He began blogging three years ago this month and, while I've read them in the past, the posts have new meaning for me now. He was a somewhat eccentric character, and his writing certainly helps to demystify his complexity.
I travelled 600 miles to Omaha by Greyhound Sunday night for the Monday memorial service. I had wanted to visit while he was still alive but something always came up. The last time I saw him was by way of a Skype video connection. He knew he was dying.
The memorial service was a fitting send off for an extraordinary man. It was the perfect mass with stories and testimony from many of his friends and colleagues. It celebrated his long, fruitful life and quirky nature. There was read a long poem about him, songs and readings he would've enjoyed, tears of joy and sadness... and plenty of humor. If I live to be a hundred, I will not again witness such a wondrous mass for as unique an individual.
I was to return to Waukesha the following day, so while there I had to explore the Iowa dish antenna farm known as SCOLA started by him. It's an imposing sight in the middle of an unimposing cornfield. Huge dishes sprout from the fertile soil like trees in Arthur C. Clarke's imagination. The bowls in the corn stand ready to accept flakes of information. The studio digests programming from around the world and spoon feeds it to subscribers via a regular schedule. (SCOLA used to be seen on cable in the Waukesha area several years ago. It was the channel with the foreign news broadcasts.)
Before I left Tuesday, I wanted to sign the guestbook for the room on the Creighton campus I was staying. It was started in the late 1980's, and as I paged through it I wondered if I'd see him mentioned -- he had taught at Creighton for many years. Right there on the second page, a note from a Frenchman visiting SCOLA, thanking Father Lubbers, SJ, my uncle, for the hospitality.
My Uncle Lee was uncommon and we had a lot in common. He loved to book shop, more than he'd ever have time to read, it seemed. He gave me a enormous "The Last Whole Earth Catalog" and "The Zen of Running" years ago. He left me his well-used "Roget's International Thesaurus" which I will use in blogging and used for this one.
He took the nieces and nephews skiing many times, and these are favorite memories. It took Lee's enthusiasm to get teenagers out of bed before dawn on a freezing winter vacation day, cook us a hot breakfast of grits, drive for miles to the ski hills on snow-covered roads, and ski all day even when it was coldest. Three times he took us skiing out West and you will see skiing and mountains prominent in his art from that period.
After Uncle Lee's brother died in the 1960s his sister, my mother, began an Easter egg hunt tradition. It was the first big holiday after the plane crash and she wanted to do something to help the five orphaned kids get through it. Again my uncle's enthusiasm took over and he really, really, enjoyed hunting for his own colored eggs well into his 60s.
It was always fun seeing my uncle for holidays. He'd share stories and ideas from his travels and get us to try foods and drink we were unfamiliar with. He liked strong, black coffee and liked sweets and French foods, especially cheeses.
I could go on and on about his art, his marrying us and baptizing our baby. About a trip to Missouri for an antenna. About sailing ... Maybe later.
My uncle began the art department at Creighton University and is still instructing even in death. His body was donated to science.