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Life really is a lot like pro wrestling
By TOMMY DREAMER - For SLAM! Wrestling


New York Rangers captain Mark Messier smiles from ear to ear as he accepts the Stanley Cup after his Rangers captured it for the first time in more than 50 years during the 1993-94 season. The spring of '94 holds a special place in the heart of Whig columnist Tommy Dreamer. Dreamer's late father was a huge Rangers fan and Dreamer recalls the conversation he had with his dad moments after the Rangers captured the famous trophy

When I am not wrestling, my daily routine is simple. My children wake me up in the morning, after which I usually get up or lay in bed with them for awhile. Their mother prepares them for school.

I either send them on their way with their mom and try to fall back asleep or I take a trip and drop them off at school. To be honest, I really don’t like dropping them off because after I give them a kiss goodbye, as I see them walk together down the hall, it makes me quiet sad. I truly do want the day to go by fast so I can see them again. It is funny; I can leave them to go off to all parts of the world to perform in front of wrestling fans each week, but when they leave me and I am four blocks away, the wait for them to come home seems like forever.

During days on which I drop them off, I then come home and start my rituals. I do my back exercises with an invention I found on Twitter (@lobaktrax) that has truly improved my quality of life. I have very little discomfort and on days when I wake up sore, I use it for about three minutes in the morning and I am set.

I drink a small whey protein shake that I get from www.prosource.net — again something I found on Twitter (@teamprosource). I then start my one hour of cardio on my elliptical machine. I usually watch MLB Network’s Quick Pitch and Sports Center, or as you Canadians like to call it, TSN. I catch up on my wrestling shows or, now that I am older, I watch many documentaries. I recently recorded a show from the MSG Network entitled Spring of ’94, which revisited the magical seasons of 1994, during which the New York Rangers and Knicks both made it to their respective championship finals.

While watching that, what was supposed to be a normal day really changed dramatically during that routine sweat-filled cardio session. I found myself crying so much that I had to stop to compose myself. This led me to really want to write this column because I know so many people right now who have to deal with the same issues. It is, unfortunately, something we all have and will have to face: the loss of someone we love and how to cope with it.

I have written about this before. My father was a diehard Rangers season-ticket holder. He used to take me to games or we would watch them on TV together. That is until one fateful time when a Rangers game wasn’t broadcast on TV and the station instead showed what was then WWF wrestling, live from Madison Square Garden. I was instantly hooked.

The comfortable lifestyle I live is all because of wrestling. I had a lot of encouragement from my dad to pursue my dream of becoming a wrestler while watching the documentary of the Rangers’ historic Stanley Cup victory (it was the team’s first since 1940). As I watched the replay of the final seconds of the game, I had a flashback of being at my then girlfriend’s house watching the game with my friends, celebrating. Following the win, I immediately told her I had to call my dad. I called my house and my mom answered like she always did. I said “MA!” She said “isn’t it wonderful, hang on, here is your dad.” I could hear the excitement in his voice. He said “I can’t believe it. Isn’t it great? I never thought it would happen, I can die a happy man.” I said “I know, it’s awesome, I will be home later.” He said “thanks for calling, I love you.” I said, “OK, love you, too.”

As I write this, I have had to stop because I have tears in my eyes — because it is such a great memory. My father would be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease shortly thereafter. He would battle the disease for many years, but eventually died from it.

But in that memorable spring of ’94, he was still my healthy, strong dad. He was six-foot-two, with same body type as mine, except I have a big butt, while he had a belly. He had a body like wrestler Dick Murdoch and had no signs of illness. This is how I want to remember him: strong, happy and full of life, not weak, sad and wanting to die like I last saw him.

Recently, a number of people I know have been having a tough time with this sense of loss. I guess the older I get, the more I am going to experience it. It sucks because we all go through it. I am a not firm believer that it gets easier as time passes. When you love someone, you love them forever. I don’t want to forget the past. I want remember everything. In my opinion, it is how we move forward that makes us the person we are.

I know how my dad wants me to live my life. He told me once before he passed. He said “I raised you, I am proud of you, you need to raise your family now and live your life. I have lived mine.”

My best advice to people who are going through this is this: unless you are moving forward, you are not living either. My only regret is that my children will not know who my dad was. He would have loved to have watched them grow up and to have been a grandfather, but he passed when they were about six months old.

So how do I move forward? I tell stories, I show pictures, I make sure my kids know who their grandfather was. That’s how you continue living their life. Their memories and stories and legacies can live forever.

Who knows what might trigger an emotion setback: a song, a smell, a memory, but just sit back, compose yourself and get back to doing what you were doing and live your life.

I hopped back on my elliptical and did the final 30 minutes of my workout with renewed energy. I wasn’t embarrassed by my emotions. I didn’t need alcohol or drugs to cope. I needed to catch my breath, reflect and keep pedalling.

When I finished my cardio, I completed my routine of showering, running errands and going to gym, until my day was made better when it came time — finally! — to pick up my kids from school.

That simple squeal of “Daddy!” as they sprinted and jumped into my arms turned my sad day into a happy one.

If you can find one thing, just one simple thing that can make you laugh, or get joy from, it means you can move forward. If it is caring for an animal, another person or yourself, it proves all is going to be OK. That’s what the loved one you lost would have wanted.

I opened this column recounting my routine, not to stack on Twitter plugs because the people I met on Twitter were, of course, trying to help sell a product, but they also try to help others. I met these people on Twitter and isn’t that what a social media is for? The social part.

Talk to people that you trust about your feelings. Follow what your friends are doing as they live their lives. It might just inspire you to live yours.

I say life is a lot like pro wrestling. It is scripted, but we can’t predict the outcome. In wrestling, you get knocked down a lot, but it is how you get up and keep on fighting that makes you the person you are. Everyone reading this column can relate, we are all our own social network. What you do after reading this article is your decision. Hopefully it has touched you and you can continue to move forward.

Thanks for reading.

TOMMY DREAMER LINKS

  • Tommy Dreamer bio and story archive
  • Tommy Dreamer column archive
  • thetommydreamer.com

    Tommy Dreamer is a legendary and influential pro wrestler and a father and husband who has worked for World Wrestling Entertainment, Extreme Championship Wrestling and Total Nonstop Action. His column appears in the Kingston Whig-Standard and on SLAM! Wrestling. Follow him on Twitter @THETOMMYDREAMER and check out his website at thetommydreamer.com. He can be booked for live appearances through his website. Check out his new, custom-designed T-shirts and merchandise on his website as well.