Saying goodbye to my grandpa, and confronting death in my own life.

My grandpa is dying right now.  He was diagnosed with late stage cancer about a month ago, and he was given 2 months to live by the doctors.  He went downhill extremely fast, he was up and about a month ago and today he’s in hospice on his death bed.

Hospice is a terrifying place.  Hospice is where people go to die.  The staff make the patients as comfortable as possible, but it’s for terminally ill people.  My grandma called me the other day and said that grandpa was taking a turn for the worse.  I knew his disease was winning, but I wasn’t prepared for bad it was.  I went in to see him yesterday and as I was making my way towards his room, I could see sick and dying people left and right in their rooms.  My wife is a nurse so she’s more accustomed to this kind of environment, but I was woefully unprepared for this.

When we finally got in to his room, I didn’t recognize the person on the bed.  Grandpa was always a slender man, but now he is literally skin and bones.  When I say that, I’m not exaggerating.  He looks like someone stretched skin over his skeleton.  His eyes are clouded over and glassy, his skin is loose, and his breathing is labored.  Every breath he takes is in great gulping breathes, as if the only energy his body has left is to desperately suck air in.  He’s almost completely unresponsive anything, including our voices or our hands on his head.  I knew that he was dying, but I had no idea what that actually looks like, outside of movies.  Death is horrifying.  My sweet old grandpa is unrecognizable, and he honestly looks like a monster in a horror movie. I don’t say that to be insensitive, I’m just shocked at how agonizing dying from cancer really is.

I’ve heard that having a baby really hammers home your own mortality.  I haven’t had that experience yet, but seeing my grandpa in this way had the same affect.  I’m very sad for my grandpa, but this experience has made me think a lot about my own mortality.  I know that’s a selfish response in light of his imminent passing, but it’s true.  Death is scary, and I want to protect my child from it.  My grandpa will pass in the next day or two, most likely.  He’ll never know his grandchild, and that makes me really sad.  I just hope that my wife and I do him proud, and raise a child that he’d be proud to call him grandpa.


Worried about parenthood.

My wife is 30 weeks pregnant now, as of a few days ago.  I’m getting pretty nervous.  When we first got pregnant, 9 months seemed so far away.  Slowly time has crept up on us, and our baby is right around the corner.  The pregnancy is high risk, so the doctor won’t allow it to go past 38-39 weeks.  That means I have probably roughly 2 months until our baby is here.

I feel like I’m at the top of a roller coaster.  I’m excited for what the baby means, but it’s just been me and my wife for 6 years.  We had a lot of freedom before she got pregnant.  If we wanted to take off for the weekend, we just did it.  Or if we decided we wanted to go out to the bars and stay out all night, that wasn’t a problem.  With the baby, all of that goes away.  I’m very happy and excited, don’t get me wrong.  But I’m also apprehensive and nervous about the change in lifestyle and responsibility.

I doubt that anyone can be fully prepared for life as a parent, but I feel woefully under prepared right now.  The crib still isn’t’ finished, I haven’t finished reading all the parenting books, our house is a mess, and I haven’t finished all the house projects I wanted to before the baby got here.  I’m excited about the baby but I’m discouraged by our lack of preparation.  It’ll all be fine, I think I’m just having last minute jitters.

How Deep is Your Love – John Frusciante

Ever since I posted about the Red Hot Chili Peppers a few weeks ago, I’ve been stuck on them again.  John Frusciante is one of my top 5 guitarists of all time, I love how muted and scratchy his chords are.  This is a video of him performing a cover with the Chili Peppers ten years ago.  He’s got a great voice, and I love this cover.

Bisping vs GSP

Thoughts on the cancellation of Bisping vs GSP and the state of the UFC in general.

I typically try to keep this blog focused on myself and the things I’m interested in.  I see it as a release valve for the stress in my life, and it serves that function well.  I haven’t dipped my toe into news blog territory yet, and I’m not interested in taking that direction.  However, I do want to write about something newsworthy in the MMA world that happened yesterday.  That thing is the cancellation of the Michael Bisping vs GSP middleweight title fight.

I love the UFC.  I’ve been watching it since I was a little kid.  My dad found UFC 1 on VHS in 1994 at our local video store, and he was instantly hooked.  He was always a big boxing fan, but MMA took it to the next level.  I remember him getting UFC payperviews throughout my child hood and pointing a camcorder at the TV to record the fights.

The poster for the very first UFC event.

As a kid, I was never very interested in the fights.  But when I became a teenager I started to get super interested in MMA, and I found myself emotionally invested in several fighters careers.  Anderson Silva is easily my favorite fighter ever, and he’s my pick for greatest fighter of all time.  There’s a big debate about the G.O.A.T. right now, but for me it’ll always be Anderson.

All of this is to say that the UFC has been a part of my life pretty much since it’s inception, and I’ve been a faithful follower for probably 15 years or so.

A little background on the UFC: The Fertita brothers bought the UFC in 1997 for several million and sold the company last year for over $4 billion, the largest sport franchise sale in history.  In that time, they built the sport practically from the ground up.  All the other major sports franchises have had decades to stabilize and mature, but the UFC is practically in it’s infancy in comparison.  As such, there have been many growing pains.  Fighters have never been fairly compensated compared to professional athletes in other sports.  The Reebok deal a few years ago ruffled a lot of feathers as it took away any personal sponsorships (i.e. fighters aren’t able to make as much money).  There is no retirement or insurance when a fighter retires like in the NFL, they’re on their own financially and medically.

When the sale hit last year, the fighters realized how underpaid they were.  The UFC was worth over $4 billion, but a new fighter in the UFC typically makes $5k/$5k to start.  The proportion of UFC revenues going to the athletes was abysmal, especially compared to other professional sports leagues.  The current state of the UFC is not good.  Fighters are upset with how they’re treated by the organization, and the new owners don’t have the personal touch that the Fertita’s did.  Many high level fighters are defecting and heading to the UFC’s primary rival, Bellator.

It is in this environment that GSP announced his return to the UFC.  The new UFC owners need to make big money on pay per views, and they are starved for stars.  GSP is one of the biggest draws to ever fight in the UFC.  He’s a gigantic star in Canada, so GSP coming back to the UFC was viewed as a big win for the UFC.  He also came close to meeting Anderson Silva’s record title defenses, and he went out on the top of his career.  When he retired in 2013, he was still champion, he’d made millions of dollars, and he left with a superb legacy.

Bisping knocking out Rockhold

In March, Dana White held a press conference announcing that GSP would be facing Michael Bisping for a title fight.  Michael Bisping is the current middleweight title holder.  GSP has never fought at middleweight before in the UFC, so already we have a red flag.  Add to that the fact that Bisping upset Luke Rockhold for the title in a fight that many expected Rockhold to dominate.  Instead of facing a legitimate challenger in his first defence (or giving Rockhold a well deserved rematch), Bisping was given a fight against Dan Henderson. Dan Henderson is a legend of the sport, but he was in his mid 40’s at the time.  He was not even close to a title shot, but because the UFC needs to sell payperviews they gave the money fight to Bisping.  This upset most of the middleweight division as it is one of the most talent heavy divisions in the UFC today.  After that fight, everyone expected Bisping to fight the legitimate number one contender, Yoel Romero.  Instead, GSP was announced as getting the title shot over Romero and 3-4 other well deserving middleweights.  GSP is a natural welterweight, so not only did this make no sense from a rankings perspective, it also seemed like a strange size mismatch.  An undersized middleweight who hasn’t fought in 4 years fighting the champion who appears to be ducking legitimate contenders.

MMA: UFC 205-Weidman vs Romero
Yoel Romero staking his claim as contender by knocking out former champion Chris Weidman.

For months, this fight has been in the headlines.  There’s been a lot of back and forth between GSP, Bisping, and the UFC.  It appears that negotiations have stalled, as Dana White announced yesterday that the fight was called off and Romero would get his well deserved title shot.  Whether or not he will follow through or not remains to be seen.

However, the UFC is not the WWE.  It should be a meritocracy, where a fighter proves his or her worth in the octagon and the best fighter in the world gets a crack at the champion.  Ever since the sale, the UFC has proven that it prefers fights that perform well financially over fights between the actual #1 and #2 guy in the world.  It’s troubling, because I love the UFC and I have an emotional connection to their brand.  I’ve been watching their shows since I was a little kid.  But if I was  fighter, I’d be jumping ship to Bellator ASAP.  Bellator pays better, they take better care of the fighters, and fighters are allowed their own sponsors.  I think the UFC has time to right the ship, but the UFC’s leadership hasn’t shown any sign they’re interested in restoring the their brand to a meritocracy.  I could see a world where Bellator is the face of MMA and the UFC is a relic of the past.  I hope that doesn’t happen, but I love MMA.  I’m going to watch the show that pits the best fighters in the world against each other.  If the UFC isn’t the place where that happens, then I’m going wherever those fights happen.  It’s a sad thing to say, but the UFC is slipping and they might soon find themselves irrelevant.