There are moments in our lives that we just remember. It doesn’t matter how young we are, some things are just imprinted on our brains. My first professional sports event was a Vancouver Whitecaps game at Empire Stadium. Following that there were cold nights in the end zone, a stint as a ball boy and other memories that provide me with great Empire memories of my childhood.
When I think of Empire Stadium, I also think of my Dad. He was never much of a sports fan, but sure supported my brother and I in our sporting ambitions. Whether it was taking us to a game, or standing around outside with us after a game as we stood with our autograph books, Dad was patient and treated us when he could.
Introducing me to sports peaked my interest as a child, and fueled the love I have for sports today, and in particular my BC Lions and the CFL. My mom was a staunch Edmonton Eskimos supporter, so my childhood was a difficult one. My dad used to get a kick out of mom screaming watching the games, as I looked for any opportunity on those days to stick it to her. The chances were few with the dynasty the Eskimos had, but another great memory would come when I watched this new phenom named Mervyn Fernandez weave through a bunch of Eskimos at Empire Stadium from my grandmothers house in Dauphin, Manitoba. The Lions won that game, and oh did my Dad and I enjoy needling my Mom.
So Empire Stadium was pretty much the location of my introduction to sports. It’s fitting then that Sunday is also Fathers Day. It will be the first one without my Dad, who passed away suddenly in January. I would have liked to take him to this game, to return the favor. But when I take my seat and look around, I’m going to remember him vividly. I’m going to look around and see all the young fathers with their sons or daughters and smile.
My dad will be with me Sunday, and so will the ghosts and memories of Empire Stadium. And for that, I am forever grateful.
Thanks, Dad! I love you!