Lila Nelson’s Celebration: Lisa Torvik and Neil Mikesell

Lisa Torvik: I met Lila and Marion when I was about 12 or 13 (1965 or 1966), not too long after they took over the museum and my mom, among many other moms, was a volunteer there.  They roped us kids in as volunteers, especially during Nordic Fest.  I took my first class from Lila when I was 15, in backstrap weaving.  I had done a little weaving before that on a loom my mom bought at a farm sale and set up. My experiences with the Nelsons were like those of everyone else here: I knew them as creative, witty, charming,  and inspiring people.

I sent an invitation to the celebration to Lila’s LPN, John Maidl.  He was an important member of Lila’s caregiving team at Lyngblomsten.  This was his email response:

Thank you so much for sharing the invitation. I had some knowledge that a service was being planned for some time in June but was not aware of the details until your email. I really appreciate the invitation to attend and to sit with you. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend. Please pass along my appreciation to everyone. We were honored to have Lila in our community. She was a remarkable woman and I believe she had a good life here with us. She was a valued member of our “family”. I have an autographed tile from the museum and I will always cherish it. Lila was blessed to be surrounded by a rich group of friends and a wonderful niece and cousin. She knew she was loved and at the end of the day that’s all that really matters. Thank you for all the kindness you have shared with Lila and the staff of the Boss Neighborhood at Lyngblomsten. God bless you all! John

Neil Mikesell:  I knew Lila not as a weaver, but a lover of poetry, someone who actually liked to read poetry. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but Lila began reading my poetry. I wrote quite a bit in the later years of her life and it seemed to bring out the former English teacher when she read them. If I hit the mark, she said so, enthusiastically. If I missed the mark, she let me know by finding something to compliment such as a particular line. Every time we visited, which was almost every week, she would say “Have you been writing?” If I had nothing new, I felt a little like a got an F for the day.

Of all my poems Lila read, and there were around 150, this is the one she seemed to like the most:

an old guitar

played on an old guitar
so mellowed by time
the warmth and wisdom
fills the room like the fireplace
and its aged oak flames
the pipe caressing the chords
with the lilting melody
a voice coming in
gliding on the delicate notes
an old song
a poem of lives lost
in a long ago war
wives and lovers
left to mourn alone
seems as written only yesterday
the flowers die
new ones grow
killing ends
and starts again
played on an old guitar
mellowed by time
seems as written only yesterday

Lisa and Neal took Lila to Dassel this spring for the opening of the "Nordic Roots" exhibit

Lisa and Neil took Lila to Dassel this spring for the opening of the “Nordic Roots” exhibit

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