A Tribute to My Dad For His 80th Birthday

July 19, 2022, marked my dad, Doug Hamilton’s 80th birthday. Such a momentous occasion calls for a tribute!

My dad (my brother Garth and I call him Bo, and that is how I will refer to him henceforth) is an incredible man. But don’t take my word for it. Ask anyone who knows him well, and they will be easily able to expound on his many outstanding qualities.

For this post, I’ll share some memories intermixed with whatever the opposite of a roast is.

Teaching me to ride a bike, cheering me on at my first triathlon, skiing, and my wedding day!

Looking back

It was sometime in my early adulthood that I had an epiphany.

When people say, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” meaning, kids often end up being like their parents, I realized that if that were true of me, that would be an accolade, not a point of shame.

To end up like my parents would be something I would be proud of! That was a profound realization for me.

But as it concerns a tribute to Bo, I’ll share my perspective on what are some cherished memories.

The formative years really were!

A theme that always jumps to the top of mind when reflecting on being raised by Bo and my mom is his consistent, deliberate efforts to provide Garth and me with various enriching experiences to help shape us into well-rounded adults. The main categories I’ll describe are recreation and travel.

Recreation

Being active and enjoying the outdoors were deeply engrained into our upbringing. From being hauled around in child carrier backpacks on hikes when I was a baby, to being taken out hiking not long after I started walking, Bo was very strategic in passing along his love of the trails.

One of my earliest hiking memories is Bo packing sandwiches and candy bars for a hike up Hamilton Mountain when I was just a little tike. Knowing that treats could bribe his sugar-loving daughter, he patiently urged me on when I got tired and crabby, providing the future reward of peeling open that candy bar when we got to our lunch break.

It worked. 🙂

Dozens, if not hundreds, of hikes while under my parents’ roof translated into Garth and me being hiking freaks as adults. (Garth even more so, but that is another story.)

Same with bike riding. Being gifted a bike at an early age, and encouraged to ride it, turned me into an enthusiastic grown-up recreational biker.

Let’s talk about waterskiing. (I could talk about it all day, but I’ll be brief.) Waterski vacations/lake days filled our summers with skiing, tubing, wakeboarding, and swimming galore. I was like a little fish that felt most at home splashing around Lake Merwin, Yale, or Banks Lake for our annual weeklong trip. Those are some fond memories I’ll always hold dear.

Snow skiing too, oh my! Another regular for us that I enjoy to this day.

Travel

My folks had a motorhome for most of my childhood, which was our home base while waterskiing at Banks Lake, and the vehicle by which we’d frequently go “camping” at state parks, spending quality time together and making memories as a family.

Travel and recreation go hand-in-hand, and Bo would usually go to the trouble of bringing our bicycles along on RV trips, and would initiate rides around wherever we were staying. My adolescent self made countless loops up and down the trails and loops of Fort Stevens State Park.

Specific memories 

On our motorhome trips, Bo would often awaken Garth and me earlier than we would normally rise so we could go on walks around the campground while Vive (my mom) was getting her beauty sleep. The extra special element is that he’d make us a cup of hot chocolate to go in our designated plastic mugs (we each had a different color) so we’d have something to sip while we walked and talked and he drank his coffee.

Bo showed a tremendous amount of patience in teaching us the recreational hobbies we came to cherish:

  • During waterski days, he’d pull the boat around for another attempt as often as we wanted when we failed to rise above the water after calling, “Hit it!” He usually had helpful, unsolicited feedback on what we were doing wrong.Similarly, he encouraged me to take as many runs as I could when it was my turn in the water. Only when my arms or legs gave out, and I was ready to surrender the rope to the next person, would I be encouraged to get back into the boat. (I never wanted to get back in; I wanted to swim indefinitely!)
  • When hitting the slopes in the winter, he endured my childish temper tantrums when I wasn’t learning the mechanics of skiing fast enough to suit me, calmed me during my freakouts when I thought I couldn’t navigate the steepness of the hill, and carried my gear back to the car when I was tired and cranky.

In retrospect, it occurred to me that Bo (and Vive) spared no expense to give us a childhood full of abundance and adventure.

As an adult, I now see how expensive and how much work goes into each one of the hobbies Bo made sure we practiced regularly. Yet he willingly chose to pour out the labor and cost necessary for us to have those experiences. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Continuing into adulthood

Bo walking me down the aisle

Bo and I have remained close over the years, and much of the credit for that goes to him for being extremely proactive about scheduling get-togethers and calling for impromptu coffee dates when he is on my side of town.

Transitioning into adulthood, I’ve had the pleasure of leaning on Bo for wisdom as I navigate challenging situations with relationships, co-workers, terrible bosses and self-doubt that threatened to crush my spirit many times.

With a successful career in management and administration, Bo always has abundant, helpful words of wisdom to share that helped me climb out of some situations I couldn’t see a way out of.

From movie nights to dinners out and holidays, it has been an absolute pleasure to be able to do life with my fantastic daddio. I cherish the time we get to spend together and hope there are many more years to come!

 

 

About Summer Sorensen

My aim: to live out Jesus' greatest commands (Matthew 22:36-40) & have the most fun while doing it.
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