TORONTO -- Gordie Howe raised his famous right elbow to ham it up for a fan's picture, his famous smile flashing once again.
A welcome sight for son, Marty, who has seen the 81-year-old hockey legend sapped by years of closely tending Colleen Howe's battle with Pick's Disease, which finally claimed her on March 6.
"There was thought it might be too soon for him to get out in public," Marty said yesterday at the Hockey Hall Of Fame as the elder Howe reminisced with friends while launching this year's Baycrest International Pro-Am Hockey Tournament.
"But he likes to keep moving, keep busy and it's good this event will help take his mind off things."
The tournament organizers had asked Gordie earlier in the year to attend and when Colleen passed away they were quite prepared to have him back out.
But the family saw this fund-raiser for Alzheimer's and related brain disorders as a fitting tribute to the 70-year-old Colleen.
She was a huge figure in hockey as the agent for Gordie, sons, Mark and Marty, and a proponent of minor and junior hockey in the Detroit area when Gordie was a Red Wing.
"I'm better off because of her," Gordie said, still very emotional about talking of his wife.
"She's part of me. She did great things for our boys (the driving force behind his comeback in his late 40s to play as a family in the WHA) and she had the faith to believe in all the small kids in Detroit."
Murray, the third son who didn't go on to a pro hockey, became a radiologist in Ohio and was also active in his mother's medical care to the end.
Pick's, a rare form of dementia, is this year's special cause for the tournament.