I wanted to have another contest but skipped Mother’s Day because I felt like Mom is obviously important while Dad tends to get overlooked. Unfortunately, I proved myself right, and there weren’t very many entries.
I don’t think anyone thinks Dads are less meaningful. Father’s Day is perhaps poorly timed right around the end of the school year, and graduation events take over. I can relate, having a birthday on July 3rd. You try and have a slumber party around that date.
So, while this current contest was entered far less, the entries were equally, if not more, meaningful. Our wonderful prizes will be well earned for writing about these sometimes complicated relationships.
For our third-place winner, we have a $50 gift card for the North Bend Theatre. Located at 125 Bendigo Blvd N. in North Bend, the gift card can be used for movies, treats, or applied to a private rental.
The second-place prize is a $100 gift certificate at The Well and Table Restaurant. Located at 317 NW Gilman Blvd. Ste. 43 in Issaquah’s Gilman Village, this restaurant is a farm-to-table restaurant and bar with a seasonal menu focusing on fresh, locally sourced ingredients, craft cocktails, and a variety of Washington wines and ales. (Opening soon!)
Lastly, for first prize, there are TWO Thrill Ride gift cards from DirtFish Rally School! Located at 7001 396th Dr. SE in Snoqualmie, DirtFish teaches car control, confidence, and safety behind the wheel, through advanced driving techniques built from the roots of rally.
But enough with the details, here are our five finalists and their tales of Dad and his advice. Don’t forget to read how to vote at the end of the story.
[*Note: Names and pictures are being omitted until the winners are announced]
#1 What Would Dad Do?
The advice one receives from their father can often be hard to come by.
As was all too frequent in the days of my youth, my parents were divorced, and I lived with Mom. Time spent with Dad was often “catch up” time, so practical or even casual advice was hard to come by. With my Dad, those meaningful or even silly nuggets of advice just didn’t flow. It was his actions that spoke loudest to me over the years. During the tumultuous times surrounding my parent’s separation and ultimate divorce, Dad was quiet and patient, taking me aside and explaining what was going on with the family almost in a “professional” manner.
After the divorce, Dad did volunteer work as a clown, visiting hospitals, attending functions for disabled or disadvantaged kids and the like. Seeing him giving of himself and his time so that others could have some fun taught me more than words ever could. It wasn’t advice per se, but it showed me how to treat other people. (Just try explaining to your future in-laws that your Dad is a clown! There’s a story for another time!)
Now that Dad has passed, and I have had a few years to think back on the things that he taught me, the one conversation topic that does stand out most between Dad and me was his pride in me and my life’s choices. Twice in my 50+ years with Dad, did he bring up and use the word “Pride” when speaking of me when we were talking to one another.
The first time was during a trip to go see my Dad’s brother, who was visiting from out of state. I picked up Dad, and we were driving to his sister’s house, where my uncle would also be found that day. This ride, like SO many over the years with Dad, was nearly silent for miles and miles. Finally, and unexpectedly, Dad turned to me and said, “I’m really proud of the volunteer work that you do.” Recovering from the shock of the comment (it came from my Dad, after all!) and getting the truck back under control, I let that sink in. My volunteer work was doing back-country trail maintenance work for the past ten years. As a kid, I learned about the outdoors, camping, hiking and such from Dad. I got into the volunteer work as a way to rekindle my childhood love for all those things I had enjoyed with Dad.
The second time Dad mentioned this pride he had in me happened to be during the last conversation I ever had with him. I was going out on a weeklong trail maintenance trip to a location that Dad had taken me when I was young. It was a place he used to go when he was young, so it holds a lot of deep meaning to me. I promised Dad that I would bring back photos so that we could re-live some old memories of our time out in the woods together. Before leaving, he again told me how proud he was of me and the work that I did.
Again, it wasn’t advice so much as setting the example of how one should live one’s life that sticks with me to this day. Dad never saw the photos that I took as he passed away while I was out on that trip. It’s looking back at my Dad’s life and thinking, “what would Dad do?” that provides me with the advice I need to live my best life.
#2 A Sparkle on Top of a Twinkle
Optimistic Nyal-ism Because my father is dead, it feels funny to be writing about his anecdotes or philosophies on life, but boy did he have them. My Dad’s name was Nyal, so I labeled these often-repeated gems as “Nyal-isms” Once you hear the first one, you will understand my choice of title. Nihilism has been with us in many forms throughout existence but is commonly associated with Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th-century German philosopher. For me, it’s a reminder of the impression my father’s phrases left on my psyche—a silver lining he forged.
#1 is a favorite but couldn’t be a sadder resignation to “half-empty” than ever was. My Dad would be sitting on a chair in his boxer shorts and tee-shirt, smoking a cigarette in the dark. I would ask him what he was doing, and he would answer, “Sweetie”… “I wake up tired, and I go to bed tired.” What do you say to something like that? I mean, it’s true for the most part. But it’s as sad as hell.
Despite his dark sentiments, I have always considered Nyal to be an optimist. I have wondered if I was viewing my father in a “half-full” manner, somehow making him out to be a fun crab. I finally put this theory to rest at his funeral. One of the speakers described my Dad as possessing “a sparkle on top of a twinkle” in his eye. The entire room was nodding their heads in approval of this synopsis. It was true; Nyal had a particular type of charisma that’s hard to find. He was genuinely playful. And now his Nyal-isms such as “Sweetie, they get you coming and going” hold much gravitas.
#3 A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place
My Dad was born in 1918 and was just about old enough to be my grandfather. My folks were 42 when I was born, and I was the youngest of five kids, so my folks were kinda tired by the time I came along. I had a great family and a wonderful childhood, but they often left me to my own devices.
My Dad didn’t take me fishing (that was my brother) or teach me how to ride a bike (best girlfriend), or teach me how to swim (neighborhood kids). He didn’t teach me how to drive (Mom) or throw a baseball (coach). He worked at the Pentagon and brought me chocolate-covered raisins when he came home from work. He was always ‘around,’ but we didn’t really hang out if you know what I mean. Forty years is a big gap, especially when Dad was a child of the 1920s and I was a child of the 1960’s – hard to relate.
My Dad was a quiet guy and related more with actions than words. He was a woodworker in his spare time and taught me – by osmosis apparently – that if you are going to do a job, do it right, do it well. No slapdash work, no throw it together and call it good. Slow and steady, measure twice, cut once – do it RIGHT. I have pissed off more than one partner with this attitude…I guess some folks call it being ‘anal’ or ‘OCD.’ Sheesh – I’m not that bad; I just want to follow instructions and do it the way my Dad taught me!
Along with this work ethic came another caveat…” a place for everything and everything in its place.” He didn’t outline his tools in the workshop, but everything was put away after use and WHERE YOU GOT IT FROM. Woe unto the child who did not return the hammer to the place it came from! And don’t use the screwdriver to stir the paint!! Use the right tool for the job. Hey, there’s another one!
Anyway, I wasn’t daddy’s girl, but my Pop was an honorable man with real morals and ethics. He died when I was 29, and I miss him still. But I feel it’s ok he has moved on, as I think the internet would have made his head explode. Love you, Pop!
#4 A Passport to Take Our Own Trip
I miss my father. He left this spinning rock a quarter-century ago, but I still want to call him to talk about things. It’s not an annual Father’s Day pang. It is frequent. He had a way of discussion that could call out one’s thoughts to help exam and clarify. He lied, he didn’t push, and one might leave a conversation with Dad with a clearer idea of one’s own opinion based on facts, but have no idea where the man stood, other than for what was right and proper, in a humanistic way.
Early lessons from Dad revolved around finances, respect for others, and driving safety. There were interesting lessons around money, which followed his pattern of example, but no explanation. I was six years old, and my chore that memorable Saturday was to sweep the porch, a large, covered area that wrapped the front and one side of the house. The surface was smooth concrete, and with a wide push broom, it was not an onerous task. I had turned the corner and was starting to work the side porch when Dad came out and asked me, “Do you think you’re doing a good job?” I looked about, surveyed the front portion, and didn’t seen any areas I missed, so I replied, “I’m trying to.” He looked at me and said, “I think you’re doing an excellent job. Today is allowance day, and you have earned a raise to twenty-five cents a week from a dime.” Without explanation, he had planted the seed that work has rewards, appreciation being one of them.
Dad knew I wanted to drive the car because around four years of age, I started asking. Finally, he told me to sit in front, next to him, and he let me steer. He taught me to look down the road and taught me to observe cars ahead of us. Were they slowing, was there a pothole they were swerving around, a dip causing a violent shudder? Soon he allowed me to operate the column-gear-shift lever while steering. After some trips, he stopped calling for a gear, instead putting in the clutch, confident that I knew which gear to use for the conditions, whether an up-or down-shift. But I was a pre-teen, and he would not allow me to take full control until I had my learner’s permit. In addition to reading road conditions, he taught me courtesy. If a car passed on a two-lane road, lift the throttle to make it easy for the passing car, signal properly, and so on. His lessons regarding managing speed and anticipating others’ actions served me well as a Navy fighter pilot, making energy management second nature and dog-fighting fun since I could anticipate the opponent’s actions.
Dad loved people and country. Our house was a polling place in the 1950s, illustrating democracy at its fundamental level. We frequently had guests of various ethnicities and religions. I met Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King’s right hand, at a meeting in our living room. It was without fanfare. Dad was involved in civil rights, with little talk, just taking action. Dad exposed us, kids, to museums, concerts, national parks, air shows, sports events. When a teenager, he took his younger brother to San Diego to see Lindbergh return after his trans-Atlantic flight. Dad shared his love of human events.
Hubert Byron McCoy (1912-1995) was not a foible-free saint, but he gave us children a passport to take our own trip through life without tasking us to carry his life’s baggage. I miss my father immensely!
#5 Finding Common Ground with Dad
My early memories with my Dad were great. He drove a big truck, and when I rode with him, we’d listen to country music on 8 track tape. Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, and others. I primarily listen to rock and ’80s, but I have a Spotify Channel I call Old School Country, and when I listen to it, it reminds me of my Dad.
When I was about 10 years old, Dad taught me to drive in the truck. It had a manual transmission, no power steering and no power brakes. I’d roll around in the field on our farm in “granny” gear, sitting on a phone book so I could see out the windshield. The first time I drove our Buick, which had power brakes, I almost put my Dad through the windshield when I stomped on the pedal that first time.
Around that same age, I got a .22 rifle, and my Dad would take me out to the woods for target practice. I loved it, and in no time, I was a better shot than him. I was never going to be a hunter because I loved animals too much, but I’d spend hours plinking away at empty beer cans.
My Dad worked construction taught me to build things. When he built our barn, I was right there next to him, hammering away. When it came time to put the roof on, he strapped me into a cherry picker’s harness tied into the roof joists.
As I got a little older, I started seeing the holes in our family foundation. A loveless marriage, major financial struggles, alcoholism and violence. My Dad was in Eastern Washington and Montana trying to find work and eventually didn’t come home. We lost our home. I ended up in foster care throughout junior high and high school but still had occasional contact with my Dad. Our visits were always brief and strained. I didn’t love him anymore and didn’t think I ever would again.
It wasn’t until I was in my 30s and looking at my own life after going through a divorce myself that I realized I’d made my own mistakes and carried on some of our worst family traditions. I began to work on trying to be a better person and decided that one of the first things I needed to do was forgive my Dad and build a relationship with him again. It wasn’t always easy, but we found some common ground.
I lost my Dad 15 years ago and was with him while he passed peacefully. I’m glad I could be there with him, and I’m glad that at that time, I could say that I loved my Dad again.
- Only one vote per person
- Voting lasts through Friday, June 18th, at midnight.
- Voting will be by commenting on the original Living Snoqualmie Article with your name (if it isn’t obvious by your username) and the number of your favorite story or by doing the same on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Votes on shares will not be counted.
- Likes will not be counted as votes.
- Anyone caught voting twice will have both their votes disqualified.
- You may comment as much as you’d like, but please, when you vote, only write your name and the number of the story you choose to win.
- Winners will be announced in a third article on June 19th.