Lynda Fishman, who wrote an acclaimed book about overcoming the tragic deaths of her mother and sisters, will be the keynote speaker at Choices, the Jewish Federation of Ottawa Women’s Campaign event.
For Lynda Fishman, choosing to continue living was not a hastily made decision. It is a process she says she is still working through after the death of her mother and two younger sisters in an airplane crash in 1970 when she was 13 years old.
“We have choices about how to deal with these tragedies and with loss. Most people don’t realize they have any choices, and some of those choices are about how to move forward,” she said.
Fishman will be the keynote speaker, October 28, at this year’s Choices program, an annual Women’s Campaign event.
Fishman chronicled the memories of her sisters, Carla, 11, Wendy, 8, and her mother Rita Weinberg, as well as her decision to keep living, in her memoir, Repairing Rainbows: The True Story of Family, Tragedy and Choices, published in 2010.
The memoir details Fishman’s life before and after the crash, and how she struggled to honour the memory of her sisters and mother and carry on living with her devastated, grieving father, whom she said became a “completely different man.”
“I think the biggest difference was that I chose to live and my father chose to exist,” the Montreal native said.
Fishman, a trained clinical social worker, is the former owner and director of Adventure Valley Day Camp in Toronto. She is a motivational speaker, blogs for Huffington Post Canada, and has published articles and training manuals about bullying, childhood health and wellness, teamwork and trust, among others.
She is married with three grown children.
Event chair Shari Silber said she believes Fishman’s message will inspire and uplift attendees, showing them that, no matter how dire, depressing or paralyzing any situation may seem, there are ways to not only overcome those challenges, but to thrive and live a full life.
“It makes sense for her to be the speaker because of the choices she made in her life. It fits like a glove,” Silber said. “The timing was just right this year to have her.”
Silber has a personal connection to Fishman’s story: she lived next door to Fishman’s family and was best friends with Carla.
“People sometimes need the permission and the knowledge from someone who’s gone through a terrible tragedy that it’s OK to live again. It’s OK to be happy and it’s OK to get back on that path of living and find a new normal,” Fishman said.
By that, Fishman said she means acknowledging that you will miss them and learning to live without your loved ones instead of worrying that you’ll forget them, something she was shocked to discover so many others felt when Repairing Rainbows was published.
“You learn how to live without them and keep those memories alive, and how to move forward in a positive way having really worked through some of that grief,” she said.
Choices will be held Tuesday, October 28 at Agudath Israel Congregation, 1400 Coldrey Ave. The cocktail reception begins at 6 pm and dinner is at 6:45. Couvert is $36 and a minimum donation of $150 to the 2015 Annual Campaign is required. Contact Nancy Walkington at 613-798-4696, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.