The inspiring story of an ordinary man who, from humble beginnings and against the odds of a devastating illness, has led—is leading—an extraordinary life.
To many people, Walter Gretzky is the ultimate dad, the father of the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, and the first inspired coach to a talented young boy. Walter’s major insight into hockey—that a player should “go where the puck is going”—guided Wayne’s brilliant style, and Wayne himself has said about his talent: “It’s God-given. It’s Wally-given.” It’s safe to say that no other famous hockey player’s father is held in such high esteem, and that Walter Gretzky has carved out this singular niche in his own right.
Now, for the first time, Walter tells at length the story of his life, about growing up on a small family farm, about meeting and marrying Phyllis, about raising four boys and a girl in a modest home in Brantford on the salary of a telephone repairman, about hanging onto his modesty and values when the comet of talent and celebrity hit.
Walter also talks about the process of recovering from a stroke that came close to killing him ten years ago. Through his own grit and determination, and with the help of dedicated therapists and doctors, his family and friends, Walter battled back from an aneurysm that left him with many cognitive difficulties and destroyed a decade of memories—including his recollection of the death of his mother and almost all of Wayne’s NHL triumphs of the eighties.
As many of the people who have encountered Walter even briefly will testify, he is very charismatic, and it’s his extraordinary compassion, which has flourished since his stroke, that makes him so compelling. Yes, he struggles with some limitations, but he has also discovered a calling in helping others. All of his many public speaking engagements are for charity, and this book would not exist were it not for Walter’s role as the official spokesperson for Canada’s Heart and Stroke Foundation. The only way he would ever agree to talk about himself at such length was in the hope that his experience with stroke would be useful to other people. “Every second of every day is important to me,” he writes, “and I only hope that if telling my story can help even one person, then all of this will be worth it. And remember, there is life after stroke…look at me!”