One of Owen Hart's greatest gifts to others was that . .
By ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun
He loved to laugh
As more than 1,500 teary-eyed fans, friends and family members gathered for his funeral yesterday, I pictured Owen Hart looking down from the clouds above.
Wearing his hat backwards and flashing his boyish grin, I'll bet he was thrilled to see his loved ones follow his example by using laughter as a bandage to help heal the pain life can inflict on the soul.
As was often said during the proceedings, he loved his wife, loved his kids, loved the family he grew up in. But most of all, he loved to laugh.
In a world stained with tragedy and the all-consuming pursuit of the almighty dollar, it takes a real talent to keep things in perspective.
To keep things light. Owen had that ability.
Youthful exuberance that shone through when he walked into a room served as a subtle reminder we should learn to laugh at ourselves and never take things too seriously.
Celebrating his life, wife Martha and brothers Bret and Ross spoke yesterday of his caring nature, familial dedication and compassion. But it was talk of his notorious pranks, wit and love for laughter that must've made him proudest:
* His ability to entertain started the day he was born, as Bret recalled. Running into hospital to see his little brother for the first time, Bret carried with him a bag full of worldly possessions like his best marbles, toy soldiers and finest toy truck. Among his treasures was a gnarled piece of chewing gum that drew the attention of his mom, Helen. When asked what it was, young Bret proudly announced it was Owen's bellybutton. Mom angrily grabbed the wad of gum and threw it out, prompting a devastated cry from Bret: "It's going to be worth something some day!"
* Martha recalled how, during their first date in high school, Owen ran out of gas. "I don't know if it was a joke on me or what," she said, as a smile fought through tears.
Either way, she recalled how she fell instantly in love with the charming young man but wondered if things were meant to be considering his one fault -- his funny-looking toes.
"I really liked him but I didn't really know if it could ever work out because his toes were so ugly," said Martha, sparking much-needed laughter amongst the sniffling congregation. "I told him if he kept his socks on it might work. He did for the first seven years, then when we got married he just threw them in the corner."
* Martha spoke of their delightful practice of leaving love notes for one another, which she'd find in her bedroom when he was gone. She'd, in turn, stuff notes into his lunch bag or wrestling boot. Minutes before reading a heartwarming letter he wrote her just two and a half weeks ago, she recalled how Owen tied a strip of bacon around one of her cats and watched another cat chase it for hours.
* Bret said some of the most entertaining wrestling he ever saw was between the family's cross-eyed cat and Owen's toy monkey. To delight his siblings, Owen manipulated the monkey to perform complex wrestling moves on the extremely mean-spirited feline. "He'd smack that cat two or three times with that monkey's hard paw and the cat always knew it was game on," smiled Bret. "We loved it."
As Bret said early in the proceedings, "Owen could make a stop at a truck stop or airport bathroom into a hilarious moment you'd laugh about for a long time."
Yesterday he even managed to make people smile at his own funeral. Quite a legacy.
Later, back at the Hart house, they smiled through stories of Owen's antics through the evening.
They knew it wouldn't bring him back.
But in a way it helped ensure he will never really leave.