Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My Father's Belt

Lila Dielke holding my father's belt.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Close-up of the belt.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

About a year ago, a woman approached me at the Wellpinit Powwow and stated she knew my father (he passed away in January of 1994), and she wished to return to me an item once belonging to him. I agreed to meet with her and gave her my telephone number, but she never called. Apparently, she lost the number, but after a few weeks, I forgot about it altogether.

Then out of the blue, we met again at Edward and Christine’s Summer Solstice celebration. She reminded me of our prior meeting and said she would still like to return item she mentioned before. I gave her my number again, and this time she called.

Her name is Lila Dielke and she is a mental health counselor on the lower South Hill. We met this afternoon at her office in the old Marycliff Hall (formerly a Catholic school for girls). She explained how she met my father years ago when he gave a guest presentation in Pauline Flett’s Salish Language class at Eastern Washington University. He spoke to them about Native American spirituality and the sweat lodge. As it turns out, he was looking for a place to build a lodge, and Lila offered her property. Their meeting opened a door for a deep spiritual connection to form.

My father accepted her offer and built a lodge on her property. To my understanding, they sweat together on several occasions. Even after he died, she continued to sweat in his lodge.

At some point, my father gave her husband a beaded belt in thanks for allowing him to build the sweat on their property. That belt had a special place in their home, sometimes sitting on their mantle, or a buffalo robe, or other prominent locations. They cherished that belt, but after 12 years, Lila’s spiritual intuition prompted her give the belt to me. Her husband agreed and she then delivered it to my hands (after losing my number and finding my again).

As I held the belt for the first time, I noticed several clues suggesting my father not only owned this item, but probably created it too. The design looked remarkably similar to other things I saw him make; the beadwork had his characteristic idiosyncrasies and flaws; the materials were similar to other items I knew him to use. She told me she also believed he created it and that she knew for certain he once used it as part of his dance regalia.

After she gave the belt to me, we visited for another three hours and talked about my father’s teaching and other spiritual knowledge. As I retold the stories of his life, and my experience with receiving his ceremony, I found myself speaking with wisdom beyond my own knowing. Somehow everything made sense in that moment, even though much of my experience came from pain. I felt as though my father returned through Lila and offered this special gift to me.

Now that I have my father’s belt, I find myself pondering what to do with it. The spirits will decide. Until then, I simply offer my gratitude to Lila for heeding the voice of the Higher Power, and I give her thanks for reaching out to me.


Ms Parker said...

Just found your blog randomly.

What a beautiful story.

Chelle said...

Maybe it should be in a museum, like the MAC for example...

Anonymous said...


It is my first time here. I just wanted to say hi!


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