My friend is gone. He was never “John,” to me. He was either “Hump,” or most of the time, “Red.” He passed away at 1:30 a.m. this morning. I spoke with his brother Lou, who told me that my buddy had a tough day yesterday and fought like ‘a warrior’ to the end.
I knew this was coming, yet here I sit typing this through tears. I visited Red last week at the hospital and he told me the end was near. He said, “my friend, I have decided not to prolong my life.” I saw the IV’s and oxygen that sometimes keeps us here long after we want to be and I didn’t flinch. A week earlier on the phone he had told me not to do that. He repeated that he had two great lives, both in and out of wrestling. He said he was fine, at peace, and ready. He was going into hospice; his call, his decision. Any additional treatment would not be helpful. I conveyed messages of prayer and love from those who knew him. He smiled and returned the sentiment. He suggested that once he got settled at his new location, maybe we could watch Laurel and Hardy DVD’s together. I took his hand and told him I loved him. He said, “I love you, too, Mick,” and thanked me for making his life better the last few years by laughing with him. I patted him on the forhead and left his room just before I lost it.
I spoke with him on the phone two days later, as he was being transferred to hospice. He answered by saying, “Happy Thanksgiving.” Now I know what he meant. No more pain and suffering. I will miss him very much, but now it’s time for him to hang out with Wally Karbo and share a lifetime of stories.
“Listen, Humperdink!”……..I love you, pal.