20 * THE SUBURBAN, WEDNESDAY, JULY 14, 2010
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Playing the hand you're dealt
Bernard Mendelman Write Where I Belong Forty years ago, on July 5, 1970, an Air Canada DC- 8 crashed after aborting a landing at Toronto International Airport, killing all 109 passengers. The flight was en route to Los Angeles from Montreal with a stop in Toronto. Lynda Fishman's mother, Rita Weinberg, then 39, and her two sisters, Carla, 12, and Wendy, 8, were killed in that crash. They were on their way to attend a family bar mitzvah. Repairing Rainbows, Fishman's first published book, released recently, is an absorbing account about how she played the hand she was dealt. Lynda, who was 13 at the time, was already in L.A. when she learned of the crash, having arrived a week earlier with her bubby and zeidy. Her father was scheduled to fly out a few days later. A young Lynda then wondered, "Now what do we do? What happens next? Do we go home and make dinner? What will our life be now that I don't have a mother or sisters?" At this young age, Lynda was faced with the responsibility of looking after their Côte St. Luc bungalow and caring for a 44-yearold father who was in a complete stage of shock. Burying a wife and two young children devastated him and he was unable to cope with raising his other daughter alone. Overcome by the tragedy, he never fully recovered. Lynda would often cry herself to sleep and then have nightmares. When she awoke she would hear her father sobbing. "The house had transformed from a place of laughter, safety and comfort to one of total despair," she recalls, but she made a choice. "I was determined and felt destined to have a happy life. I believed that it was no mistake that I was not on the plane with my mother and sisters... for whatever reasons I was supposed to be alive... There were people who needed me." After starting college, Lynda met Barry Fishman. She knew right off he was her bashert (predestined). Barry had also been dealt a bad hand. He was just seven months old when his 32-year-old mother died in front of him of heart failure. Barry and his four-year-old brother, who was born with a learning disability, were raised by their father until he too died suddenly at the age of 55. Barry, 17, and his brother, who was 21, were now both orphaned. Barry continued to live with and provide for his brother, who had limited working skills. After graduating from McGill University in accountancy, Barry was hired by a prestigious firm, and then married Lynda. Today he is a successful executive in the pharmaceutical D r . J o
u a H a
i m o v i c i industry. Lynda, a trained clinical social worker, was a camp director for 20 years before opening her own day camp. She has published articles on leadership, teamwork, bullying, trust, childhood health and wellness. The Fishmans live in Toronto with their three grown children, two dogs and two cats. The family is heavily involved in fundraising for children dealing with tragedy or illness. Lynda's father died in 1999. She says in her book, "I lost my dad when I was a child and had lived a lifetime watching this wounded man drag himself through each day of a profoundly heartbreaking life." Lynda achingly misses her sisters and adds, "People always say that time heals. It doesn't.... through time, you make progress and improve, but you never fully recover from losing a mother, particularly when you are a child, you spend the rest of your life grieving and longing for her." A spiritual person, Lynda believes that her mother and sisters are watching over her. Repairing Rainbows is a testament to her positive view of life. The book is motivating and hold's ones attention, written with humour and tender feelings. But Lynda has no tender feelings for Air Canada. "They dropped the ball, letting down countless many families. Back in those early days, months and even years, they should have made sure we had appropriate grief counselling, financial and emotional support, and some compassion - whatever the form." Repairing Rainbows, published in soft cover, contains 270 pages that include family photos. The book sells for $18. How appropriate, since two letters in the Hebrew alphabet add up to 18, which spell chai - the Hebrew word for life. - email@example.com n
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