The words I can’t speak today…
Mine is a family intent on togetherness. We celebrate everything, typically at my parent’s home in Muskoka surrounded by friends and lots of laughter. It starts with happy hour on the dock, listening to good music and well-told, familiar stories and usually ends late, after raucous debates about the problems facing our world. Regardless of the hour and often after a snooze in his chair, my Dad is the last one to bed, stopping along his path to turn out lights and start the dishwasher. The consummate extrovert and caretaker, he was loath to miss anything and ever-mindful of his flock. These are the rituals I have known and relied on for over 51 years.
Last Saturday morning, however, we slept at the house with the lights on and woke to a load of dirty dishes. The night prior, my Dad – David Morrison, who was affectionately known as Moe – died at home, surrounded by family. After a three-year, valiant battle with cancer and its related effects, I’m relieved that he’s no longer suffering but miss him terribly. The void left by his passing is like a black hole and my heart literally aches.
My Dad was my hero. His lessons to my brothers and I were simple and delivered without fanfare: always do the right thing; work hard; and, give back. He taught by example and set exceptionally high expectations that were communicated clearly and consistently. They were often underscored by emphatic hand gestures and the occasional expletive. His approach to parenting was undeniably effective: my brother John has more integrity than anyone I know; David is resilient and optimistic; Michael is fiercely independent and speaks his mind. All of these attributes are a reflection of Dad’s influence.
Dad was, first and foremost, a coach and mentor. He believed in the power of human potential, and was pained by anyone who failed to challenge themselves. We had endless conversations about the importance of lifelong learning, the beauty and power of natural environments, the impact of physical activity on cognition and wellbeing, and the rewards of playing competitive sports. He taught me how to throw a spiral, build a campfire, and do a j-stroke. He spent hours at the pool and instilled in me the importance of setting goals, staying focused, and managing your time. He modelled kindness, compassion, generosity and humility. Every time I get a compliment about my leadership, it’s his voice I hear in my head.
I know he was proud of what I’ve achieved personally and professionally. Always, however, Dad pushed me to do more and be a better human. He had an unwavering belief in my capability, which bolstered my confidence and propelled me through times of doubt. His counsel has shaped my life choices, my partnership with Ken, the way I parent Bennett and Olive, my commitment to social change and my investments in volunteerism.
My passion for leading at Sheridan with integrity, purpose and agility and my unwavering commitment to empowering others have their roots in his teaching. I will remain forever thankful for his counsel and fiercely proud to be his daughter.
David Morrison April 8, 1942 – September 4, 2020