As I jet across the continent tonight on another work trip, it is hard not to be reflective looking at so many Father’s Day posts. They are distracting me from my work, but are a nice diversion from my task list and the endless Raptors content I consume.

I was fortunate to have lunch with my Dad today.

Not fortunate due to some luck or twist of fate. No, I am simply fortunate that at almost eighty-eight years old, the legendary Ronald Frederick Harrison keeps chugging along. I am very fortunate to still have him. In fact, I have been so blessed from the day he and my mother signed the adoption papers that transformed me from Richard Lane Zemans to Mark Alfred Harrison.

He could have been the mayor of my hometown Orillia – he is so well known and beloved. Instead he did something much more meaningful than politics. He taught. High School Machine Shop was what it would have read on his resume, if he ever created one. Like many teachers he was much more than a teacher. He was a life coach, friend, confidante, and father figure to many. Not just his students, but anyone who needed it. 

As a kid I think I may have been jealous at how many people relied on my Dad to be, well, their Dad at times. As an adult it fills with me pride. I didn’t want to share him as a boy, but now I know how invaluable his help was.

My Dad has a unique approach to people. He treated the school janitors better than anyone. He has never cared about what you looked like or where you came from. His respect had no judgement meter. Perhaps it was his own challenging, at times racially desecrated, background that made him this way. I don’t know. I just know that his approach to humanity is both rare and in high demand. 

Even today, my Dad took time to say a quick hello to the singer who performed on a lonely stage at the restuarant. I have often thought there must be nothing worse for a performer than being background music. Now imagine you’re performing for a room full of families with their backs tuned, while they focus on celebrating their patriarch. Now I am not saying my Dad saved the world with his words of thanks as we walked out, but I am sure they made the singers day feel a little more special. (Not surprisingly I went the Mark Harrison route to kindness. I dropped $20 in his tip jar. Who says you can’t buy love?)

At Mother’s Day I slipped Dad his Father’s Day gift in case our schedules didn’t align to see him. So I came to lunch today empty handed. But as we excitedly shared our perspectives of the Raptors amazing win, the impact it has had on Toronto, and the invisible genius that makes Kawhi, well  Kawhi… I came to realize my Dad was a big fan of the Raptors slogan.

Turns out he wants a We The North shirt. So cool. Somewhat wish I had known (or thought about it) before I headed north. Dad wants to be the Father of the North. My loves are colliding. My love for my Dad. My love for the Raptors. My love for sports marketing. Call me out if you want, for deviating from a feel good Father’s Day post, but I think it’s an amazing example of how the Raps/MLSE/Sid Lee have crafted an amazing brand that appeals to kids, teens, and the octogenarians of Orillia.

Three more hours in my flight. Lots of time to order that shirt and get myself a few championship goodies as well!


One thought on “Father of the North

  1. As always my friend a beautifully crafted piece! If you ever decide to leave sports marketing there is an op-ed future for you in any major paper!

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