Feb 1990: My grandfather's legacy

I had a crappy weekend. I took 5th at Michigan Open freestyle and 2nd at Grand Valley State Open. I lost 3 matches. I just felt very small up at 127/129.5, especially since it's about 7 pounds above what I've been competing at for the first few months of the season. It makes a big difference. I'm not as strong physically at that weight as I used to be.

I'm 24-8 for the season. I need to wrestle at least one tourney at 114.5 prior to freestyle Nationals, to get down to the weight. I'm pissed at myself for not getting down for this weekend, especially since there were a few pounds allowance. No excuse for that.

I'm too big for 114.5 and too small for 125.5, but I've chosen this horse, and it's too late to change it mid-stream. I've got to do what I need to do to get down there. I haven't been below 119 yet, and I've just got to do it. I could be competitive at 125 if I were bulked up and walking around at 140, but I'm walking around at 133. I can be competitive at 114.5. All my losses at the lower weight were to top guys (Purler, Schwab, Martin), and two of those were 1-point matches.

I've got to place at freestyle Nationals this year, and 114.5 is my best shot. I've just got to get down.

The collegiate team tied Arizona State 19-19 on Friday night, then lost to Okie Stae tonight 19-18. It's going to be a 3-horse race at NCAAs.

Jenny and I are in Tulsa for the weekend. My grandfather Needham is having heart surgery in a couple days, so we wanted to come see him. My parents are here too.

Last night after everyone else went to bed, I went into the living room and talked to Grandad while I stretched on the floor. We taked about sports and his heart problems and his upcoming surgery. He said his doctor had performed four similar operations in the past year, and all were successful.

I asked him if he was scared, and he said he knew it was a serious operation, but that he thought it was important for him not to be tense about it, that he thought it was important to have the will to live.

This morning we went to church at Boston Avenue Methodist Church, where I went to church when I was a little kid. I go to church so seldom that I tend to get teary eyed every time I do go, because it reminds me of my childhood with my grandparents. Jenny sat between me and my dad. He likes her a lot.

Grandad Needham died today. Mom just called and told me. He made it through the surgery, but when they tried to take him off the machine and re-start his heart they couldn't. End of story.

I've been thinking about Grandad Needham all day today. The trip to Tulsa seems like a mirage, like something that took place months ago, instead of hours ago. I replay the whole scenario over and over in my head--what we did, what we said. What could anyone have done to make him live longer? What could I have said or done to make it more meaningful, or--whatever? To make it last longer? To keep him in the present instead of becoming a memory? I guess I wish I could've stayed there for the operation, watched him go to sleep, watch them cut him open and replace the valve, watch his heart fail and the monitors go flat. Just to make it real somehow, to keep it in the present tense.

I just want to freeze-frame the time we spent with him. I want it to be now, to be part of the present again like it was a few hours ago, instead of fading and fading and fading until it's just a third-person account, a distant memory.

Jenny slept over last night, and I kept waking up. About 2:30 in the morning I had a dream that she had died, and I woke up and looked at her, and I was still kind of asleep and I thought she was really dead, that she had somehow broken her neck during the night and was dead.

It's important to live your life the right way, to know that sooner or later others will follow you, and the people who have raised you and shaped your life will eventually leave their shoes for you to fill. You will shape the lives of those who come after you, just as your life was shaped by those who came before you.

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