Every couple of weeks or so my family would get together at a local restaurant in St. Albert. We would chat over breakfast, mostly just an excuse to see each other in an otherwise busy and hectic life. This time was different as I had just quit my retail job of five years to move to Calgary and pursue my dream of being a pro-wrestler by going to Lance Storm’s Academy. Though I’d been a fan of the WWE, I couldn’t say I ever looked like the traditional superstar, or any athlete for that matter. And though I had been inside the ring as a referee for a local independent promotion, Grampy (our family’s term for my Father’s Father) was weary of the decision. Not surprising, as I was leaving a well-paying job for a possibly fruitless endeavor. As Nana and my family chatted over my sister’s new promotion, or shoes… or friend’s love-life, (whatever it was, I can’t remember), I sat silently, and Grampy finally entered the conversation.
When Alton Brewer was my age (24, at the time), he had already left Arthurette, New Brunswick, the home that he was born in. Hopping on a bus, he enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces. This was his career, yet he had goals and hobbies too. When he was younger, and heavily involved in Athletics, he trained and became involved in refereeing Soccer. He told us all about the rigorous training and physical toughness needed to become a Soccer referee (never mentioning his military training). The words resounded with me, and although I can’t remember the specifics the message was clear: If want to pursue this, you’re going to have to work harder than you ever have before. Because hard work pays off. And, when you do something you love, it’ll be worth it.
This story doesn’t have the happy ending that you hoped for. I worked my butt off at Lance’s, I didn’t drop out, but when I faced the reality of working in professional wrestling, I realized I didn’t love it like I had once. The future was not looking bright, no job, no plan B. After a couple months on the couch, I was back to the same athletic level and not feeling any optimism for the future. So I through two Hail Mary passes, and on the same day I went for a job interview, I submitted a tape to enter NAIT’s Radio & Television program.
I fell in love, I found my calling, and I found the something that I wanted to work hard at: Radio. And though wrestling hadn’t worked out, one of the confidence boosts I took from it was that I was praised for my promo skills. I was praised for something I wrote. For the next three semesters, I went to school bright and early, went to work right after and would stay up into the wee hours of the morning to finish homework. I reminisce on the days I hated the insomnia I got from a perceived failing in wrestling, but now I embraced the insomnia. I didn’t care about the 20 hour days, I loved NAIT. And because I was working hard, it was paying off.
(Ok, if you’re not emotionally drained yet, THIS is the cry part) Sometimes my sister sees a psychic, and she says she’s been visited by our Grandparent’s spirits. I don’t, and I’m not saying this because I don’t believe or I can’t or won’t, because we all need some way of honouring the ones that came before us. I say this because of this: I don’t need to see Grampy, because I’m trying to live my life by the values and the words that he’s passed on.
You’re going to have to work harder than you ever have before. Because hard work pays off. And, when you do something you love, it’ll be worth it.
But this wasn’t the last thing he ever told me. He had a stroke, when I was in Calgary, never knowing how much his words had changed my life. His speech was failing and he mumbled something through the corner of his mouth. I don’t remember the specifics but, the message was clear: I Love You.