Growing up in Pierre gives one a unique opportunity with regard to our State?s Governors. Whether it be going to the Kelley?s to play pool and finding Governor Kneip there and bumping the parents to the kitchen, or walking by the Janklow?s and seeing then AG Bill Janklow standing on the step yelling at his sassy 5th grade son to get in the house, or calling the Wollman?s and hoping Kris? dad doesn?t answer (back then when calling a female friend, you risked an interrogation by the father), you very quickly see Governors as more than their public personna. In fact, them being Governor is secondary.
As we are contemplating the news about Governor Janklow, much will be said about what Governor Janklow did right or did wrong. I?d like to talk about what is ?right? about Bill Janklow, always.
Yes, our relationship was affected by politics, whether it be when he and my dad ran against each other or when he and Jim Abdnor ran against each other. Yes, we were on the same side and different side of many political issues and races.
But, that is insignificant compared to what is personal formed over many different interractions over 35+ years. I talked about my affection for Mary Dean in another post gained as she drove our debate team to tourneys. Russ was on that team, in the same class as my brother, and been a good friend since those tourney trips. Pam is one of my sister?s best and longest friends, a friendship formed at Washington grade school. Whenever Governor Janklow and I ran into each other, Bill asked more about my mom, sister, brother, etc. or told me about what was happening with his family or mutual friends than anything political.
Late yesterday afternoon, when I got to my sister?s house (we were gathering as family as her father-in-law had just died), Kendall drove in the garage as I was walking in the house. She stopped me and said, ?Did you hear about Pam?s dad?? Her eyes held tears for Pam and Pam?s dad, tears one doesn?t have for a mere political leader but the father of a friend. Anyone whose heart sunk when they heard the news about the brain cancer was not what one feels for a political leader but for a friend.
Once as an intern, I was sent by my boss, Representative Ron Miller, to give a message to Governor Janklow about a bill being debated in the Senate. After delivering the message to the Governor, we discussed (ok, he mostly told me his thoughts) a matter going on at Riggs High School. When I finally got back to my boss, time for feedback from the Governor had passed and he was not happy I took so long. The point: Despite the importance of the matter before the Legislature, for that 20-30 minutes, Bill Janklow was being a parent, not Governor of South Dakota.
Yes, Bill Janklow is more than Governor Bill. He is parent Bill and for South Dakotans, friend Bill. Bill Janklow, whether you knew him personally or not, did for you what friends do. He cared for YOU.
Those who are Christian know we are to make our relationship with Christ personal, to know intimately that Christ died for ME. He would have still hung on the cross if I was the only person in need of redemptions. For all South Dakotans, our relationship with Bill Janklow is deeply personal. He was Governor for each and every one of us as individuals.
Many people in office are about great ideas, strong convictions, etc. My personal observation of Bill Janklow gives me a different perspective. More than any other politician I have ever seen, everything Bill Janklow did was intimately personal.
It is said the opposite of love isn?t hate but indifference. If Bill Janklow fought for something you believed in, you got a deep sense he is fighting for you alone. If Bill Janklow fought against you, you got a deep sense he is fighting against you alone. It was personal, every time. For you, against you. If Bill Janklow was happy with you, you felt it deeply. If Bill Janklow was mad at you, you felt it deeply. But never, did you feel you didn?t matter. Even if you had never met him, you knew YOU always mattered. Always.
We have friends where the connection is a love of sports, the arts, live in the same neighborhood, etc. That is the surface connection. But the deeper connection is friends matter to each other beyond the surface connection. You smile when they smile, you cry when they cry, and even when you have a disagreement, as pointed and personal as it might be, you are there for each other when it matters. Whether Bill Janklow was more often for you or against you on issues, the issue was always the surface connection. The deeper connection was YOU mattered to Bill Janklow. Always. Just like what brings friends together during tough times, no matter what.
Bill, all the tangible things you did in your public and personal life is transcended by one single cumulative accomplishment- For 20+ years you showed over and over we mattered to you. Not the collective ?we? but 700,000 ?me?s.? You gave us your very best.
Bill, your friendship to us is reciprocated. You matter to us, all 700,000 of us as individuals. As you walk this journey, know we are with you, your family and your dearest friends. You are a great friend. While sometimes we might have wished you were gentler, you gave us what we needed, like the truest of friend. You treated us according to these words by Ralph Waldo Emerson: ?”I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with the roughest courage. When friends are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know.”
Take Care Buddy. Our prayers are with you.
Dear Jesus, Divine Physician and Healer, we turn to you in this time of illness. O dearest comforter, alleviate our worry and sorrow with your gentle love, and grant our friend Bill Janklow the grace and strength to accept this burden. Dear God, we place our worries in your hands. We place Bill Janklow under your care and humbly ask that you restore your servant to health again. Above all, grant Bill Janklow the grace to acknowledge your will and know that whatever you do, you do for the love of him, our friend. Amen.