My Father, Ron Harris, On Fatherhood
All of Ron's favorite memories of Neil, from Disneyland, his 9th birthday and the Tony Awards
Let me introduce myself: I am Neil’s father, Ron. With Father’s Day coming up I was just musing about all the ways I have contributed to his being the amazing person he is.
All due to me, of course.
When Neil was 5, I introduced him to Disneyland. We drove out to L.A. from our hometown of Ruidoso, New Mexico, playing the license plate game (finding as many states as you can on passing cars; far more fun than arguing), and serendipitously got a room at the very luxurious Howard Johnson’s Motel. Next door to the 99-cent breakfast special place. Neil fell completely in love with Disney, a torch he continues to carry to this day. His mother and brother were there, too, but it was mostly me.
(Neil here. I’ll need to chime in here and there. Just wanted to say that Howard Johnson’s had amazing clam strip dinners, and yeah, I’m obsessed with The Mouse thanks to Dad.)
For Neil’s 9th birthday I surprised him by building a treehouse on the mountain behind our A-frame home. It was fairly epic: a sandbox base, rope ladder leading up to a platform with a hatch in the floor. Most impressive of all, though: It had a 30-foot zip line. I am quite certain this prepared him to do the stunts he does on the Tony Awards and elsewhere.
(Yeah, that’s true. I spent my actual birthday away from Dad…he said that he had some legal work to do, a court trial or something. In reality, dude single-handedly built me a treehouse! With the aforementioned danger wire of doom. Maybe the coolest gift ever.)
As Neil’s interest in music appeared, I taught him songs to sing while I played my guitar. I taught him a harmony-filled duet of John Denver’s “Wild Montana Skies,” which we performed at the Episcopal Church and local Rotary Club.
You’re welcome, Tony Awards.
(He also paid for my piano lessons, so I’m just gonna go with this so I don’t get billed…)
The first year of Doogie Howser, M.D., I handled all of Neil’s mail. It was my charming outreach to those fans that has led to his fan base today.
(OK, that’s a bit of a stretch…)
All kidding aside, I am proud and honored to be Neil’s dad, never more so than at Neil and David’s wedding. Neil honored me by allowing me to speak, and I memorized every word. And now today I observe what a wonderful father he is to Gideon and Harper, and I hope I had a little bit to do with that.
(Umm, hmmm, wow, umm… I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying!)
Happy Father’s Day! LYMI,
(Thanks Dad. You’re amazing. Sorry I don’t say it more. LYMI, right back atcha.)
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