AS I SEE IT
There are times you wonder about the fairness of this world.
This past week is one of them.
For those of you who have read my column last week, you probably know what subject I'm referring to.
The news came back on WCW referee Brian (Mark Curtis) Hildebrand. It isn't good.
Doctors were initially searching for what they believed to be a bowel obstruction, which became necessary after Brian lost 15 pounds due to the inability to digest food. But they have found much, much more than a bowel obstruction. The cancer has returned, with doctors advising Brian that the cancer is inoperable. Brian was in Lakeway Regional Hospital through the weekend, and returned home on Monday.
As readers may be aware, Hildebrand was out of action for several months last year after being diagnosed with stomach cancer. He returned to working this spring at a Southern States Wrestling show and the NWA-sponsored Eddie Gilbert Memorial, before resuming his refereeing duties in WCW.
I've known Brian for five years, since SMW Fanweek 1993. Brian's responsible for two of the most special experiences of my life, Fanweek 1993 and 1994. One of my favorite Fanweek stories involves the time I had to go with Brian to Knoxville's West Town Mall to get Jim Cornette a new tennis racquet. It seemed a local fan had taken it upon himself to steal Jim's racquet at a SMW house show the night before. Brian and I went to a sporting goods store and got the racquet. The clerk fell all over himself meeting "Mark Curtis". I stood and watched. As the clerk rang up the purchase, he asked me "Can I help you, sir". I replied "I'm just here with Mr. Curtis". We walked away into the Mall to grab lunch, and Brian asked me (referring to my keeping kayfabe) "How in hell did you just do that?" My reply: "Because you and Jimmy taught us to remember that your folks down here 'still believe'." It can be said, Brian, so have you, for your entire career in the industry.
Like Eddie Gilbert, Terry Funk, Mick Foley, and some of the best....he's always been a mark FOR the business, not about it. So his love and dedication for the wrestling business, right down to the word "mark" in his ring name; his love for his lady Pam Murphy-Hildebrand, his friendship to others, and the heart he's shown fighting his cancer in the last year make him a truly exceptional individual thought of highly by nearly everyone in the industry.
That's why over the last week, people like Jim Cornette and Mick Foley have made their way down to Tennessee to see Brian. Hundreds of fans, and those in the wrestling industry have called him, or sent e-mail messages in recent days. It's been indicated these calls, e-mails, and cards have lifted Brian's spirits.
One example: I spoke to Tracy Smothers during the ECW Arena show two days ago, and asked if he'd heard about Brian. He said that he, Troy (Shane Douglas) Martin, and much of the ECW roster, who've worked with Brian (either in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, WCW, or in his one appearance in ECW) called him at the hospital over this past weekend. Tracy reminded me that "Brian has a great heart, and sounds like he is keeping right on fighting."
For any of you who would like to send messages to Brian, they can be sent by e-mail to email@example.com. There's also a young man named Garrett Conover, who's created a page for Brian at http://www.FrigidEmber.com. Any messages of support, or stories similar to what I've included in this column are welcome.
Please keep Brian in all your prayers. I can tell you, as can all of his friends, that there are few people like him around. This world can't afford to lose him.
Until next time...
If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.