I met the GREATEST 90 year old gentleman today.
It has been an honor to serve the GREATEST GENERATION for the last 20 years. I feel blessed to work with “LIVING HISTORY”. History is never more alive than it is in the quiet moments we can spend one-on-one with living legends such as Columbus Ohio’s own Mr. William Lilly.
I have heard it said that mastery of a talent comes with 10,000 hours of practice. For Mr. Lilly, his lifetime pursuit of perfection would take greater than 80 years to master. And his skills have aged like wine. It is humbling to see a master craftsman working in his craft, and I was humbled today to partake of this live poetry in motion. Mr. William Lilly is regarded as the greatest free hand script artist on planet earth.
I was humbled by the reality that I could work my whole life and never have someone say these things about my talents:
“When I first saw Mr. Lilly work, I thought I never would see anyone living who could do this.” … “He’s a Beethoven.”
“I think he’s the only one in the world who can do what he’s doing.”
This is what was said about Mr. William Lilly in 1986. If ever you find yourself in the presence of greatness as I did today, I will advise you as my Father taught me.
“Breathe! Be Silent. Take Notes. Be Present. Absorb.”
And so I did. Being invited into the studio of a master craftsman is an honor in and of itself. Being gifted with a personalized monogram of my signature was a treasure of a lifetime.
My Mother is an artist. I recently leaned heavily upon her gift when I lost my dear friend, Jack, and asked her to capture his essence in a painting.
As she poured her skills into the hand painted portrait, she told me my friend came vividly alive. She could even hear his laugh as she worked.
As my friend Jack was, his painting will also be: a masterpiece that truly captured the spirit of my late friend. I gifted this work of art to my friend’s son (also a dear friend) and I’m sure, along with Jack’s memory, it will be cherished forever.
I have such an affinity for the peace and calm that is present when an artist is creating. It is transformative. It takes you elsewhere. It’s a mystery to me how great art is produced, but when you speak to the artist the mystery unravels eloquently.
As Mr. Lilly set to his work today, it was not unlike meeting the real Santa Claus or seeing the Mona Lisa like I did as a child. The internal joy of this man comes thru in his work and I sat transfixed, as I had as a child, staring at the Mona Lisa.
As he dipped his pen into the ink well, a peaceful calm overtook the room. I watched awestruck as Mr. Lilly’s hand-made fountain pen danced with laser like accuracy and careless precision. When someone has mastered an art form as Mr. Lilly has, watching his artwork being created is pure magic.
Meeting with Mr. Lilly was a turn back through time. He was raised with values his Father (a minister) instilled soundly within him. He grew to be graced with an amazingly humble spirit. It is refreshing to observe Mr. Lilly travel almost ethereally through time as he settles into the seat in his shop. He finds his own form of ZEN as he works. As 90 years of hand crafted polish come to life, stories of students past and present come flooding to the surface. As he pauses to share them, his whole body seems to grin.
Handwriting. Penmanship. Skills we all learned as children, yet Mr. Lilly has taken the master of this universal skill to another level and it is simply bewildering. To have the mastery of a craft that we all learn as children and use every day of our lives is bewildering. The act of writing is a simple, every day skill-yet we take the art of it for granted. This special artist’s favorite thing to do is to endow his gift to special friends, and dignitaries around the world. Mr. Lilly is someone so highly regarded and cherished in his craft that students have come to see him from as far Japan, and points all over the earth.
Queen Elizabeth, and many former presidents and dignitaries have been gifted with Mr. Lilly’s work. In 1952, The White House offered Mr. Lilly a job as script writer. Of his greatest accomplishments are his renderings of the Ten Commandments, The Gettysburg Address, and numerous Bible Verses. Mr. Lilly’s hand scripted copy of the Declaration of Independence is regarded as “utter perfection” by those who’ve seen it. It was a single project that consumed over 35 hours.
Mr. Lilly’s studio is decorated with letters and masterpieces, and letters of recognition from all across the world.
In addition to his gifts in scripts and penmanship, Mr. Lilly is a silhouette artist (of course he is). Since I didn’t know what that was, he reached into his desk and grabbed a thick piece of black paper. Before my eyes, he expertly free-hand scissored the most amazing resemblance of my own son Henry I’d ever seen. Mr. Lilly is 90 years young and only growing better. Not wanting to leave my daughter Lily without something special also, I asked if Mr. Lilly would create a 5 pointed star.
Would you like to know the secret to living such a long and prosperous life? Get off your buns and chase your passions! While it was his first major accident while riding a bicycle, Mr. Lilly sustained an injury this past August when he was biking! Yes, biking at age 90! (he gave up roller blading only 5 years ago). He credits a lifetime of superb balance and strength to these pursuits. He even built his own stilts. He’s even built his own bicycle!
It will be our great pleasure to serve his family as Mr. Lilly heals from his bicycle accident. And it will give the film crew an opportunity to complete the documentary being made about his life. (This is actually happening also) A reminder to live a life that is worthy of a documentary being made about you at age 90.
If ever you find work that inspires you, and connects you to your passions, you have found your career. When you love your work, you’ll never work a day in your life! This is the feeling I left with after meeting Mr. William Lilly. I can’t wait to return for my next visit.
Ben Smith is Founder & President of Always There Home Care. Since 2004, Smith has been building his expert team of Senior Home Caregivers. From a few visits each week to 24/7/365 Care around the clock, the team at Always There Home Care is ready to help serve your senior loved one. Call our 24-Hour Home Care Hotline: (614) HOME-CARE (614) 466-3227 to get started with a meeting with Ben to discuss the needs of your loved one. They will enjoy the peace and comfort of staying at home, and you will replace your worry with confidence that Mom and Dad’s needs are met. Get the care that puts Mom & Dad’s needs first, and let them drive the bus. Call Always There Home Care where it’s always:
“Your Home. Your Rules. Our Care.” (614) HOME-CARE (614) 466-3227