It’s That Week Again

Over the years, traditions come and go. Some stick, others you do for a couple of years and then they just don’t seem as important anymore.

A relatively new one for me is “Midsummer.” Oh, I’ve long known that summer officially arrives that third week in June and that people feel the need to celebrate it. In the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, it usually means a Summer Solstice parade, complete with naked bicycle riders. Yeah, it’s kind of our statement to Portland that we can be weird, too.

Since becoming involved with the Norwegian community when I met my wife, it’s big deal in the Scandinavian world to celebrate MidSummer. (oh, there are a million ways to spell that. I’m just going with the easy one) There are those who dance around a pole and celebrate. But I’m told that’s more Swedish than Norwegian.

In fact, we’ll be heading north to Lake McMurray and Norway Park on Saturday, where the residents will be celebrating down in the waterfront park. However, the only pole I’ll have anything to do with will be for some quick fishing.

Oh, and a quick side note–avoid the movie, “Midsommar.” Very, very disturbing. And they dance around a pole.

So here comes summer and we’re ready to celebrate–but wait—what about dad?

Oh, sure, mom gets her own weekend in May (we celebrate her first) and things shut down. You wouldn’t dare plan anything for Mom’s Day weekend unless it involved mom. Heck, back when Little League used to play (and I’m sure it will return again some day), games on Mother’s Day Sunday were always canceled. The day had to be all about mom.
But speaking for absolutely no fathers out there other than myself, I don’t mind sharing the weekend. I love summer as much as the next person and I’m anxious for its arrival. To me, this coming weekend isn’t about me being a dad–which I am, and an extremely proud one–but it’s about my dad, who left us six years ago.

I really need to write down all the dad stories circling around in my head when I think of that man. They’re like little treasures stuffed into a scrapbook of events that help me see those moments as if they were yesterday.


As I recently said at the memorial for my father-in-law, Ernie Templin, I can hear the sound of my dad’s voice when I think of certain phrases, like “What in the Sam HIll?”, or the 4th of July classic whenever we bought fireworks, “I don’t know why we don’t just light a $20 bill on fire.” Yep, there he is.

Dad was dad. A kid from Scotland who came to the U.S. when he was 3 years old and then was raised in West Virginia. Like everyone else, there were great moments and setbacks during his life. He survived World War II, and shortly after his return, fate would bring him to California. That’s where he landed a job with United Airlines for 37 years and met my mom, who had herself left South Dakota to seek a new life.

Flipping through that mental scrapbook of dad, I can see him in his United Airlines overalls he’d wear at work. Whenever he’d work on the cars at home, he had some United overalls for those occasions. When were young, he’d bring home some of those fake pilot badges they used to hand out to kids when they flew.  He put ketchup on his eggs. There was his collection of suits he’d always wear to church on Sunday mornings. He helped me with my Pinewood Derby when I was in Cub Scouts, was a coach, then manager of my Little League teams. One of his favorite stories to tell about those days was–I was at bat, bases loaded and I managed to find a pitch to hit over the center field fence. Yes, I had hit a grand slam home run, the only home run of my Little League career and….dad had missed it. He was trying to control some of the rowdier kids in the team dugout and by the time he looked up, I was circling the bases.

I still have that ball.

I spend a good 10-12 hours a day at my keyboard every day doing a variety of things to earn a living. Just off to my right, the little plastic bookmark they made up for his funeral is taped to the wall. it features a picture of dad, smiling away and reminding me of just how lucky I was.

It’s funny. When I judge myself on what kind of a father I was, I tend to give myself a solid “B”. It was an important role to me and I tried to be there for my kids as much as I could. I woke up at 2am to work radio until noon, come home, take a nap and then spent most of their non-school hours until bedtime together. I coached or assisted with their soccer, baseball, softball and basketball teams until their high school years. I probably shaved a few years off my life with my serious lack of sleep, but I just didn’t want to miss a thing.

I was lucky enough to be able to spend a lot of time with them. Yet, for some reason, I am haunted by a couple of times I left them down, which of course, lowered my grade to a B.

What was my takeaway from all those years of fatherhood? My biggest advice to both moms and dads has always been–no matter how exhausted you are, cherish these years, because it seriously does not take long for them to become a distant memory.

So, celebrate your Midsummer. But as my son and my step-son both celebrate their first Father’s Day as dads, I have to have more of an emphasis on the dads. I also have to thank my father for showing me the secret to being a good dad: just be there. You’ll do the right thing most of the time, you’ll make mistakes, but just being present and in their lives will make all the difference in the world on how those kids turn out.

Plus, you’ll be giving them a mental scrapbook of their own packed with nuggets for them to enjoy the rest of their lives.

Thanks, Dad!

Tim Hunter

The Second One

I’m sure there will come a time when I don’t know how many Father’s Days its been since my dad left this earth. But with this being only the second one where I wasn’t conspiring with my sisters on what he would like or picking out a goofy card to send to him, (which usually arrived late) I’m still counting them.

Not a day goes by that I don’t wake up to his smiling face by my keyboard as I begin my daily writing duties. And I’ve made it a habit to be a positive reflection, rather than a mournful feeling of loss. I got lucky. Not only because of the man and everything he taught me by example, but also for how long he stuck around. He was the last of his siblings to go when he died just three weeks shy of his 92nd birthday.

I remember at his wake how a childhood friend reminded me just how lucky I was. His dad had already been gone for 20+ years.

I can easily hop into the memory jalopy and flash back to those camping trips, the Little League games, going to church in our Sunday best, playing basketball with him in the driveway, hearing about the guys “at the field”, which was mechanic-talk for the gang he worked with at United Airlines. It seemed like he would always be there, but eventually, the years took a toll on his body.

I’m one of those people who have fully embraced the Amazon Echo (named Alexa) and it’s partially due to my dad. Towards the end of his life, his hearing was failing and if he didn’t understand you, instead of saying, “What?” he would just say, “OK.”  That became his default go-to expression.

Now, when I ask our Alexa to turn the living room light on, the lamp clicks on and she says, “OK.”  Time to turn it off, and after the instruction she replies, “OK.”

That’s fine, but just remember Alexa, that was Dad’s word first.

If your dad is still around, I’ll echo the words of Kelly Toman who reminded me just how lucky you are. You know what to do from here.

Happy Father’s Day Weekend!

Tim Hunter

It’s Bound To Be A Better August

August

When you think about it, August has always been a pretty good month over the years.

I mean, as a kid, it was prime summertime. With wading pools, slip ‘n slides, trips to the beach or a lake. Oh, sure, it’s when those pesky “Back to School” ads start showing up everywhere, but who pays attention to those? August is the last full month of summer, with 31 days jam-packed with “who the heck cares?”

Even as an adult, I’ve always been fond of the month. Being a Seattle Mariners fan, it was when I became free to start thinking about football. There are lots of fun celebrations around town including Seafair, The Evergreen State Fair, A Taste of Edmonds, maybe a camping trip or a weekend up at Lake McMurray.  The Perseid Meteor shower is always fun to catch. This year, we’re going to a Guns ‘n Roses concert, an Everett AquaSox game and the weekends are just loaded with events.

And the 2016 edition of August is definitely better than last year.

It was a year ago this week that my almost-92-year-old Dad fell for the last time. He had been declining in health for years and “the annual fall” had unfortunately become a tradition. This one took too much of a toll, and we were forced to say goodbye. There is never a good time to watch your father slip away–it’s one of those things you know is going to happen some day. You’re just never really ready for that day.

So, when August rolls around, I’m probably always going to think about dad. I prefer to look at the positives, so rather than focusing on when he died, I’d like to remember his birthday…and mom & dad’s anniversary…and….that brings us back to August.  They were married on August 19th, which happened to be my mom’s birthday (we always said, it was so that he would only have to remember one date every year) and he was born on August 31st. His mother’s birthday was August 30th.  There’s no way around it–when I think about August, I think about Dad.

In a way, I remember that August of 2015 like it was yesterday.  Every detail, the challenges, the disbelief, it’s surreal. It’s a life-altering experience that makes you take a look at how you’re living your own life. But then again, at the same time, that particular August went by like one giant blur.

Its hard to believe it’s been a year. But while I don’t hear his voice over the phone any more, I do have a lifetime of memories to wander through in my spare time. Every now and then, something will trigger a thought about dad. He smiles at me every morning at 4am when I drag my weary bones to the office computer and begin another day of tapping away on the keyboard.

Parents want a lot of things for their kids, but most will settle for just one–their kids living a happy life. I’m very fortunate to be doing exactly what I want to be doing, with people I like, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t say a little prayer of gratitude.

And look over at that guy on the wall, smiling at me.

Tim Hunter

Dad 2