Sad news out of Brantford, Ontario as Phyllis Gretzky lost her battle with lung cancer on Monday evening. Mrs. Gretzky, 64, had been sick for the last number of years, diagnosed with the disease in 2004. Being the mother of a high profile Canadian, her situation certainly received much more attention than the average family might expect. Such was the importance of her to her family and by extension to the nation.
Wayne Gretzky had flown back to Brantford over the weekend, which became a signal to many that time was short for his mother. Questions of his participation in the Team Canada process were left for a different day, as many hoped for a turn around in her condition. A turn around that sadly never came to pass.
Anyone who has played minor hockey, knows the importance of parents to a young hockey players life. They rise early to get them to practice, drive long distances to make games or tournaments, hold the fundraisers, take second jobs to pay for equipment, it's very much a family comitment in many cases. Phyllis Gretzky was no exception, Wayne has recounted how she would drive him to the early morning practices and while she seemed to stay very much in the background, "she was glue that held it all together".
We offer our condolences to the Gretzky family, while their loss is very much a private matter it's also in a way a national loss. It will bring back for many the sacrifices of parents the nation over to pursue our national sport, losing one of your biggest backers is a hard thing to try to understand.
Lets hope that the Gretzky's feel the support of an entire nation who truly understand as they face their time of sadness.