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Good-Bye, Mom

It was with a heavy heart that I emceed the 20th Anniversary of the IRON MAN Pro Saturday at the Los Angeles Convention Center this past weekend. Less than three days earlier, I got the dreaded phone call (at 11:10 p.m. on Wednesday) from hospice, informing me that my mother had lost her long and courageous battle with emphysema. 

She had, hopefully, a peaceful death, passing away in her sleep at the Villa Scalibrini Retirement and Special Care facility, located in Sun Valley, California.

She had first moved into The Villa in February, 2002, where she eventually earned the moniker  “The Miracle Woman”; there were countless times over the past few years when I thought she would lose her battle with the chronic lung disease (the condition strikes mostly smokers) that destroys the tiny air sacs in the lungs.

A longtime smoker, Mom was forced to quit when she entered the Villa. But, as anyone who has dealt with the illness knows, it only gets worse with time, although there might be brief periods of improvement.

Mom would have turned 88 on February 23; our birthdays were a week apart (mine is on February 16). Her burial will take this Friday, at 11 a.m., at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery, in Mission Hills, California.

She requested that her maiden name, Marie G. Bruno (she had been known as Marie Hearn for the past 30 years), be placed on her headstone, and was specific with the Mortuary, as I found out last Thursday, that she did not want a special service, or an open casket. Fortunately, I will be allowed a final viewing of the only parent I’ve had since my father died when I was 17.

Mom would have asked for nothing less than for me to continue on with my duties at the IRON MAN over the weekend and, even though I wondered how I was going to get through the contest, having to deal with it ended up being a blessing in disguise.

The event forced me to focus on the present, instead of moping around (I am her only child; I found out that I have a half-sister, who lives in Arizona, on my father’s side, in 2005) and dwelling on the sad occurrence instead of concentrating, as she would have wanted me to, on the present and future. I know she was watching, proudly, when John Balik shocked me with the special “Master Emcee” honor for being at the podium every year since the contest began in 1990. She always did remind me of how I loved to talk. [smile]

I have been overwhelmed by how kind people have been with their condolences in person, via email, phone calls or texts. A special “thank you” to Shawn Ray, who started a thread about my mother’s passing on the forums at last week, and to Dan Solomon and Bob Cicherillo, who mentioned her death during their live webcast of the show on

I know you’re in a better place now, Mom. You had suffered far too long. I miss you dearly already but will see you again in the future. God bless all that you did for me.

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