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  October 6, 2001



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'Princess among pirates'

My mother's a special lady



By BRET HART -- SLAM! Wrestling
 Maybe you've heard my mom is in the hospital.

 It's been a week now and I prefer to look at it like she's getting much-needed rest.

 Too often people don't give my mom the credit she deserves for being the glue that holds the Hart family together. I'll respect her privacy by not going into the details of her medical condition; instead, I'd like to share with you an idea of what this extraordinary lady is like.

 My mom is feisty for her age. Exactly what her age is has been something she's always playfully kept to herself, even from her kids.

 When mom wakes up, I suspect she won't be too happy when she finds out her age has gotten out in the papers, so I won't compound it here by mentioning it again.

 Helen has raised 12 kids, eight of them rough 'n' tumble boys. She now has 35 grand kids and was thrilled when my sister Georgia's son, Ted, and his girlfriend, Kim, made her a great grandmother for the first time with the arrival of burley baby Bradley.

 Through all that and running a difficult business besides, my mom has kept a youthful spirit. She's enthusiastic about Jazzercize, is a devoted Hitmen hockey fan and watches Sex In The City and The Sopranos. She's knowledgeable and opinionated and she not only reads all the local papers but enjoys the New York Times.

 No doubt, being a native New Yorker has contributed to my mom's toughness and resilience. Like the rest of us, she was deeply disturbed by the images of lower Manhattan in ruins. One of her favourite things is a little Statue of Liberty she's had for many years.

 My mom loves to read. She's intelligent and has an expansive vocabulary. She's educated, refined and classy and, in the world of wrestling, she's always been regarded by all who know her as a princess among pirates.

 She's fair and sensible, even in the most trying circumstances.

 She's unassuming and has a way of making everyone feel welcome but don't let her 'TV mom' image fool you. She's smart as a whip.

 She's got a spry sense of humour, too -- she'd have to, in order to put up with the antics of all her kids!

 I want to tell you one of my favourite stories about my mother.

 Whenever I'd tell it to Owen, he'd get the biggest smile on his face.

 So, here goes...

 When my mom first came home with Owen, all us Hart kids raced home from school to see the new baby. I was excited I got there first.

 Gosh, he's sure little, I thought.

 A few days later, his belly button fell off and I decided to save it.

 A lot of times, my mom would help me and the other kids with homework and somehow still do the old Stampede Wrestling payroll. I remember lots of times when she asked with genuine interest how my day was or what was new.

 One time, when I was eight, she sat down at the edge of my bed and asked me about my prized purple Seagrams whisky pouch.

 "Whatcha' got there?"

 I told her it was where I kept my most important things in the world.

 "Like what? Can I see?"

 I happily showed off my favourite cowboys and indians, soldiers, ruby red crystal, creamies, steelies, big white dice and my favourite Dinky toy -- a tow truck. One by one, my mom studied each treasure and agreed with me they were special.

 When I'd shown her all but one thing, with a big smile on my face I reached into the little pouch and held up my "most biggest special thing" for mom to see.

 She looked perplexed, not being able to figure out why I'd put so much import on what looked like a hard black wad of old chewing gum.

 "What is this one?" she asked.

 Just as proud as can be, I said, "That's Owen's belly button!"

 I couldn't understand why mom shrieked. She picked up Owen's belly button with a Kleenex and flushed it down the toilet, much to my protest.

 "But mom ... you don't understand ... it's gonna be worth somethin' one of these days!"

 Guess what, the phone just rang. It was my sister, Alison. She said that last night my dad was at the hospital holding my mom's hand and he said to her, "If you can hear me, squeeze my hand." She did!

 And she opened her eyes, too!

 He smiled, kissed her on the forehead and said, "You made my day!"

 Mine, too.

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