My brother’s friend: I almost wore my leather pants to his service

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Courtesy photo

Tim Tunstall and his potential album cover, leather pants and all.

By Susan Dromey Heeter, Joyful Musings

This week’s column has a new name, a name to reflect a day last week that celebrated the life of a dear friend, Tim Tunstall. In honor of “Timmer,” Joyful Musings is Joyful Mourning – that sweet sorrow of remembering a life, celebrating a friend, laughing  uproariously at a funeral and then realizing with such deep sadness…oh, he’s gone, he’s really left.

Timmer was my oldest brother’s best friend. And when you have a family of six, simply by virtue of size and community, we had a plethora of “friends by proxy.”  Timmer was one.  I almost wore my leather pants to his service as Tim sported a pair of leather pants when he came to our home at 63 Pineywoods Avenue in Springfield the day my dad died in 1982.  Tim had just returned from Ireland, was Jim Morrison leather pants skinny and, I believe, did not leave our house for a week.  His sadness was equal to any of ours; Tim was part of our family.

Susan Dromey Heeter

And Timmer was funny, Holy Name School, quick witted, well-read funny.  My mother referred to him as “Timothy” and could reprimand him with simply a look. When my mom died, it was Timmer who came through the wake line last, trudging to say his final goodbye.  Sadness enveloped him; he’d adored, “Nance” and truly was her fourth son.

Tim was eclectic and brilliant – his service was packed; friends, nephews, nieces, siblings filled the room; people were laughing and laughing – the Timmer stories abounded.  He lived his own life and most importantly, showed up – albeit hours late, disheveled, and hungry, but he showed up.

When Tim “stopped by” to visit me when I lived in Holland, a friend and I were walking down the cobblestone streets of Maastricht. I looked over and spotted Tim, pointed and told my friend, “Hey, there’s my friend, Tim!”  Tim was sitting on the ground, carrying a bag that looked as though it had been used for a combat mission and had the vibe of “homelessness.”  Tim carried that look well, he could wrinkle a starched shirt within seconds.  My friend laughed as she thought I was kidding. But Tim arose and Maastricht  immediately became Pineywoods. Tim exuded familiarity and comfort.

It’s easy to mourn joyfully over a life well-lived and filled with kindness; it’s difficult to think of the finality of death. I mourn joyfully of Timmer; think of the beauty of sticker attached to a mirror I saw at a rest stop as I traveled south to attend his service: Kindness is Strength.  And I’ll mourn joyfully as I continue on with a Timmerless world and use that adage that so adeptly captures Tim Tunstall. Kindness is strength.

Be well, my friends. Muse joyfully on life, mourn joyfully on those whose lives you have been blessed to have been a part of – Kindness is Strength; showing up is glorious.

Thanks, Timmer, for exuding kindness and showing up – albeit in wrinkled leather pants.

Susan Dromey Heeter, a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white, debuts her new column “Joyful Musings” at Dromey Heeter is a secondary Spanish Teacher at Spaulding High School in Rochester and the mother of two teenage daughters.  Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards. She also writes about thrift shopping and all things frugal  in a column called “Budget Vogue” for the New Hampshire Union Leader.

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