Local author talks love, loss and making the choice to be happy.
When the late John Lennon was five his schoolteachers asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. Rather than “famous” or “frontman of one of the best bands in history,” he wrote down what his mother told him was the key to life — to be happy. “They told me I didn’t understand the assignment,” he said, “and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
Forty-five years ago, when Lynda Fishman was an early teen, her mother, Rita, and two younger sisters, Carla and Wendy, perished in an airplane crash just outside Toronto. With three of her beloved family members never returning home, Fishman was left alone to cope as her father plunged into the kind of grief that steals your spirit and will to live.
Like Lennon, Fishman knew early on that happiness was a choice, and making that choice would be key to a full life — especially in the aftermath of great loss. “My mother always taught us that health and happiness were the most important things in life,” says Fishman, author of Repairing Rainbows, a powerful book that details her fight to push forward after the deaths of her mother and sisters in July of 1970. “One of my favourite expressions is that we need contrast for clarity because I believe that when we see what we don’t want in life it becomes clear what we do want in life. Seeing my father go through a state of non-existence rather than live his life was clarity for me. I knew that’s what I didn’t want. I knew it’s not what my mother would have wanted me to be.”
Today, Fishman, 58, has been married for 36 years and has three children, two grandchildren and three dogs she rescued from a not-for-profit organization. She’s an experienced social worker and the co-founder and former owner of Adventure Valley Day Camp. Since the launch of her book five years ago, Fishman has become a sought-after inspirational speaker, travelling across North America to share her story of resilience and hope with audiences at book clubs, high schools and charity events.
“There are so many triggers that happen throughout life when you think everything is fine and then you get hit with a birthday or a special occasion or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day and you plummet again. The message in my story is that we can survive and thrive; we can create a new normal.”
Today, and every day, Fishman makes the choice to be happy.
Lynda Fishman’s Eight Happy-Inducing Choices:
Surround yourself with positive people.
Look ahead — don’t look back.
Have faith and patience.
Spend time with animals.
Choose positive thoughts.
Photo By Sal Pasqua