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Year of trial and blessing
By BRET HART


The days are fading fast on what, for me, has been a very long, interesting year. People I don't even know come up to me all the time and tell me I was in their prayers when it comes to recovering from my stroke and I happily thank them.

It must be working!

My first big step, which might not seem that big anymore, was being able to chat with Michael Landsberg on Off The Record. When I sat in the chair on that show, I feared I might be as recovered as I was ever going to get.

Now I think back to last January and smile at how much I've improved since then.

Vince McMahon once told me I was the most stubborn wrestler he ever knew. He's probably right about that.

But sometimes stubbornness can be a good thing. I got to do a lot of travelling that I really didn't think I'd ever do.

Most people wouldn't realize it but another big hurdle is it was difficult for me to even talk. I challenged myself by addressing wrestling audiences in far-off places like Australia, New Zealand and Italy. It was difficult at best but it was a huge step and unbeknownst to me at the time, it prepared me to give a fitting eulogy for my father.

For the Harts, it was the first Christmas without both our parents. I know they'd be proud of how we carried on.

It would be hard for me to sum up this year without making mention of wrestling's growing list of departed -- Curt Hennig, Miss Elizabeth, Road Warrior Hawk, Crash Holly, The Wall and young local hopeful Mike Lozanski. Don't get me started because it'd take a book. Too many, too soon.

One of my personal highlights of the year was when my youngest son, Blade, 13, handed his city championship hockey medal to my dad and I saw the sparkle in both of their eyes. I found joy in so many simple things: Riding my bike; my daughter Beans, 15, astounding me when she sang at a recital; touring Europe for two weeks with Blade; feeling so proud of my oldest daughter, Jade, 20, the first Hart grandkid to go to college; and working out with my oldest son, Dallas, 19, whose pleasant encouragement has helped me bench press an amazing 271 lb. -- for four reps. It's a far cry from what I used to do (before the stroke) but if it doesn't sound like much, try it sometime.

I look back on a year filled with simple pleasures:

Reading. Paris 1919, Train, True History of the Kelly Gang, The Crimson Petal and The White, They Marched Into Sunlight and The Pirate Hunter.

As for movies, being a wrestler, I loved Nicolas Cage in Matchstick Men and who couldn't be blown away by the Lord Of The Rings?

It looks like both the Flames and the Hitmen are coming on strong and it could be all I need to inspire me to an even better year than the last!

Happy New Year.