Blog: Gone but not forgotten…

Aug 2, 2015 - by Steve Gerweck


By Georgia Smith (daughter of British Bulldog and Diana Hart)

Last night I was in bed thinking about my Granddads partner Joan, who passed away on Monday from ovarian cancer, and was just hoping she went in peace… I was thinking about my Granddad, how he’s lost his son, his daughter, and his wife all back to back in the time span of three years. His most recent partner Joan, he started dating in early 2009, and they’d been together everyday ever since. I was so thankful they had come into each other’s lives, and they got a German Shepard puppy a couple of years ago, named “Tyson”, that my Grandad named after boxer Mike Tyson. I was happy that my Grandad had found a mate, a companion, support, and love again. He hasn’t been well since Christmas, and Joan was there to take care of him. I phoned Joan a little over a month ago, and she said she wasn’t well, and the next thing I know, she’s in the hospital and is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, then she was gone about a month later… Just so sad… I keep thinking I’m going to see Joan again, and she’ll be making a roast dinner, and telling me something funny, or hearing her famous laugh…

So, last night I was thinking of Joan, how I’m going to miss her dearly, and hoping she was at peace, and was just feeling so bad, and so sad at what she must’ve been going through. How hard it’s been for my Grandad, and Joan’s family through all of this sorrow, and the situation… I had a really sore lower side of my back, after I had a hard fall outside, walking home on Tuesday night after my friends birthday party. Clumsy me! It hurt. Still feeling it today. So, I was planning on having an early night. Then my phone all at once just buzzed and lit up with notifications.

I glanced at my phone, and my family in Canada sent me messages informing me that “Rowdy” Roddy Piper died…

I still can’t believe it, and I’m completely, stunned, shocked, and feel incredible sadness for his family.

Over a month ago, my brother and other people sent me a link to a podcast Roddy did, where my dad and his past tag team partner and cousin “The Dynamite Kid” were mentioned, and weren’t exactly favoured or spoken highly of, and everything just came out negative and hurtful. Roddy was like a family member to us, and he was my dads friend, so I tried to not talk about it on Twitter, even though it hurt so much. Especially since my dads not here to speak for himself, or defend himself. I didn’t want to give these wrestling sites my “reaction” to the podcast they were asking for, and I didn’t think it was necessary. I didn’t want it to go down like that, especially since I respected Roddy, and I just wanted to talk to him and have a conversation about the whole thing and have it resolved. I knew he was a good person with a good heart, and I just wanted to understand the whole thing. I didn’t and don’t care what people I don’t know say negatively about my dad, or think they might know of him. It’s their loss they didn’t know him. If they wanna assume things about him, believe everything they read or hear, or wanna waste their time being ‘know at alls’, behind a key board talking trash about someone who’s deceased, or talk negatively about my family, they should go find a hobby… But, I cared about what Roddy said, and I knew Roddy, so I just wanted to touch base about the whole thing…

I texted Roddy at the end of June, and he promptly texted back saying he was looking forward to speaking with me, and that he was working on a film set and would reach out ASAP. He pocket dialled me a couple of times, and when I answered, I could hear him talking to a director or producer or something in the background, where he must’ve been on set filming. Then, I phoned him again a couple of weeks ago, and had a private conversation with him, and told him how I respected him, and wanted to discuss what happened. We connected, and my respect for him went up more for how much he owned up to what happened. He said how much he cared about my family, how he loved my dad, how my dad was a good guy, and was his friend. Roddy was so sorry, and was very apologetic, and when I listened to him, I could tell he sincerely felt bad, and how much he meant it. He said he never intended to hurt me or my family, and was so sorry if it looked like he was trying to do otherwise. Roddy said he never wanted to hurt anyone, especially my family, who he said he was “a big fan of”, and felt so bad that that’s how it was perceived. We spoke for about 35 minutes, and I knew he had to get going to his film set, and his time zone was eight hours behind me. Roddy heard me out, listened, and gave me his time, which I have tremendous gratitude for. When we reached the end of the conversation, he said the next time he was in England that we should meet up, and said “You can turn me into a meat pie! Haha!” and I said “Yes of course, I’d love to meet up when you’re here next!” He was so genuine, kind, warm, and sincere. He spoke about his family and said how much he loved them, and he said his kids would’ve done the same thing I did, and he could tell how much I loved and cared for my dad, and that it took a lot of “courage” for me to call him and talk about what happened.

I have met Roddy many times in my life, and he was always really sweet. He was a legend and an icon, and was a massive part of mine, and millions of other people’s childhoods growing up. He was my brother Harry’s all time favourite wrestler growing up. I recently watched a home video of my seventh birthday party in 1994 in Florida, and Harry’s walls were just pictures of Roddy and my dad, and Harry was wearing a WWF Roddy shirt in it, as he was playing with his wrestling dolls in his homemade toy wrestling ring. We also had this red plaid blanket that very much resembled Roddy’s kilt, that Harry used to wrap around his waist when he was little and would pretend to be Roddy. I also remember seeing Harry often sitting on his floor in his room, glancing up at his TV watching old “Pipers Pit” videos from the 80’s, and him being so into it. Every Halloween when we were little, Harry was always either Roddy Piper or Freddy Kruger, and I’d usually be Catwoman or Princess Jasmine back then…

I told Roddy all that about Harry idolizing him growing up, in case he didn’t know, and Roddy was so touched by that, and asked for Harry’s contact information, and they connected and talked as well. At first Roddy couldn’t get through to Harry’s phone as Harry was in Canada with a U.S. phone, and Roddy said he wasn’t gonna stop trying to reach Harry until he got a hold of him. And luckily, they got through to each other… I felt hurt and sad about what had happened before, and how things were handled. I’m just so thankful that we all made peace. Because that’s all I wanted. I never wanted any bad feelings towards Roddy, as I knew he was a good person with a good heart.

We kept in touch after the phone conversation, and we texted back and forth, and I sent him a picture of him and I, from a past Wrestlemania, and a picture of him, my dad, and Bret together. He didn’t even have to keep in contact with me and he did. It’s weird thinking about it now… How what happened- actually connected us. And brought us closer then we were before, just all the sudden and recently… Roddy mentioned how in his next podcast he was “Gonna make things right,” and wasn’t going to let me down. I told him he didn’t need to worry about it, and that I was just glad we spoke, and that’s what mattered to me. Roddy said he was “gonna get it fixed” and wasn’t gonna let me down. And he promised he’d “make it right”… The fact that he went out of his way to text me that, showed his character, and how much he cared, and I’ll never forget that. I texted him last week saying I had been watching “Legends House” with him in it on the wwe network, and how much I loved him in it. I also said I spoke to “Animal” who was doing a signing at the London Comic Con, and Animal mentioned he was working on set with Roddy, and how much fun they were having. Roddy replied back saying it was fun, and said my dad was mentioned on his last podcast, but the podcast people took him off the air, and he said “I promise I won’t let you down. I will fix it. Love Rod.”

Every time we spoke he always mentioned how he was “Gonna make things right”, “Get it fixed”, “Tell the truth”, and said “he loved us all.” In regards to the podcast. I saw he still cared very much about the whole thing, and how much it meant to him to make things right on his end. It mattered to him, and it was an important priority for him, which touched my heart… He didn’t owe me anything after our phone conversation, and I told him it was important to me that him and I spoke on the phone when it happened, and start on a new positive page. That was all that mattered to me… Roddy continued to talk to me after everything, and always continued to make an effort with me, and wanting to make an effort to make things right on his end, when he didn’t have to or need to. Even when we were on good terms. I feel it’s important for me to share my experience with Roddy, and inform people about what a great person he was… I’m so glad him and I were able to text each other, and talk about what he was doing, talk about our families, share pictures, and I feel so lucky I can say I knew Roddy, and felt comfortable enough to call or text him. I will keep those text messages forever… I got to see first hand at what a nice guy he was, and he was an amazing in ring wrestler, entertainer, husband, father, friend, and the good man he was. I feel so incredibly sad for his family and for his wife. He loved them and cared for them so much. They were his life. He really was one of a kind and was a legend…

I was going to message him this week to touch base, and to see how he was, and then I got the tragic news of his passing… It’s so sad to scroll through my texts, and see his last message to me, and to see he was one of the last people I face timed. I just can’t believe it… I actually watched some of Roddy’s matches last weekend. One of the matches was from the Survivor Series 91, with him, Bret, my dad, and Virgil in a match, and I watched some “Pipers Pit” classics, and also watched this one promo/interview he did in WCW back in 1999, involving a storyline about “Pipers Family.” All of the footage and clips I viewed, just put a smile on my face, and I was sad I completed the “Legends House” season since Roddy was so entertaining. I just smiled and was happy watching it, and thinking how I enjoyed talking to him recently.

I just hope, pray, and believe that Roddy is at peace, and I thank him for being there for us, and the amends me made. Roddy left behind an amazing legacy, and showed me to never stop being a good person, to live everyday with the generosity, to never stop caring, and to have kindness in your heart, that he displayed to everyone. He was such a beloved character and was just such a nice guy. I’m sorry to see him go… I just hope my dad and Owen gave him a big bear hug and greeted him into the next chapter where they’re all at.

I still can’t believe this… I wish death wasn’t so permanent, and that we were able to just see those who we’ve lost again. It’s not fair… Roddy, you will be sorely missed, the world and wrestling world won’t be the same without you. You led a full, amazing, exciting, ‘rowdy’, and loving life. That’s inspired me, and others to live a great life. Your memory will forever be loved and cherished. Your legacy will never ever be forgotten, but will forever be celebrated.

God bless Roddy. We’ll be missing you.

Please pray and send love to the Toombs family.

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