It Started As A Massage … Turned into a Discussion on Life:
I met Avi at a spa I attended with my girlfriends — for a “girls weekend”.  We just wanted to relax and enjoy. I really needed a massage and was looking forward to it.  It was my turn and I was introduced to my massage therapist – Avi.  We began our session and our discussion on life.  I know this is a heavy conversation when you are trying to relax however I found her story so interesting and compelling.

By the end of the massage a friendship and bond had formed. I really wanted her to share her story . This was a tough time for she was dealing with loss of a marriage, a child, herself, her family nearly … she was struggling to make sense of it all.

I sent her to see a friend of mine, Mary Montanari (www.marymontanari.com) who does angel therapy among so many other things. I knew that if there was anyone that can connect with this dead girl, her daughter, it will be Mary.  And so Avi went to see her. I believe it was a good experience for both.

Avi has shared the story of her life. I have taken her work and condensed it a bit. I encourage you to read this woman’s journey.

Enjoy,

All my love,

Sandra

MY STORY

I was born in Israel to a family of 5 kids. My mom was left by my “straying” father when I was 4. Instead of falling apart since she was a stay at home mom and got married when she was only 16 and had no job skills, she decided to fight back. She tried a few different places like clothing stores and office work but ended up being a translator since she knew 9 languages fluently. So here we were in a 2-bedroom house, the 5 of us growing up with a strong mom who put curfews and pushed us at school to do our best. She cooked, but we helped, she cleaned, but we helped and we all went with her to the market to buy food, taking turns carrying the bags. She was the best mom anyone could ever hope to have.

I went to the army when I was 18 (being the baby in the family was hard for her to part with). Since I completed my grade 12 in a high school combining a vocation (business admin), they placed me as the secretary to the chief of staff. It was the best time in my life being a soldier. Just before I completed my duty, my officer asked me to sign up for a military career but I wanted to experience life as a civilian so I left — sometimes I wish I didn’t leave.  I originally signed up for the police academy but while I was waiting for this program to start I took a temp job to make some cash with the late President of Israel, Chaim Herzog.  He offered me a job as his assistant, which I took. Through this connection I met Murray Goldman, a Canadian businessman, who became my friend and invited me to come to Canada for a visit.

My Journey Begins…I came here in August 1976 for a visit for 2 months. My friend helped me settle in and arranged a job for me, which I liked. I ended up staying for 10 months. With one week to go my Visa was about to expire.  I packed my luggage, quite my job and paid my last weeks rent.

I decided to end this with a bang and went out with a girlfriend dancing … and dancing I did. After many hours I finally sat down and noticed a man staring at me. His name was John.  We danced the night away and hung out over the next few days.  In this time he declared, “You are not leaving, you are going to be my wife”.  He really did mean it. I questioned him and his intentions and we did talk about it.

He goes down on his knees and asks me to marry him. I said yes and the next day we went to city hall and got our marriage license and the next day we got married.

My mother was shocked to say the least, but she gave me her blessing and a month later had a heart attack (from the shock).

My Life With John…We had a nice life, 3 beautiful kids. John was a good provider even though he liked to play the stock market. He was introduced to a successful bookie (an ex cop) who made a lot of money gambling and that’s when our lives turned around.

John won – we bought a beautiful mansion – he lost – we moved to a cheap place. We moved 16 times in 24 years of marriage.

I have finally had enough of that. I wanted roots, I wanted to watch my flowers grow, he would say ok and then gamble again and we had to move again. He wanted to be rich and retire young but it didn’t work out that way so he spend many hours in front of the computer looking at stocks.

He wanted me to stay at home and have 6 kids but I was restless. Moving made me angry because the kids never had the same friends and I could never call a house my home because I never knew when we would move again.

So here we are, I am frustrated and stopped loving him because he didn’t stop doing what he wanted and we became almost like strangers, going about our business. He asked me to go back to school and do something other than esthetics and massage (I got my certificate in this during the marriage) because he was insecure – he knew that I was unhappy in our marriage and was afraid I would meet someone and leave him.

I did go back to school to become a legal assistant. This did not last long. I took the opportunity of time and went back and visited my family.  This trip home changed my life .. I met my friend Mike, who was also going through a separation. We continued our friendship however I needed to deal with my life.

I decided after 4 months that I didn’t want to stay married to a man who was all about money and nothing else. He tried to control me with his money saying – look at you, where would you be without me, on welfare. The resentment I felt towards my husband over the years was tremendous and I have finally had enough.

I could give you a million examples of how I lost my self-esteem being married to him, but that would take a very thick book to write it all.

I can’t tell you that it was a picnic being on my own and raising 3 kids who went through a hard time accepting the separation. I worked full time, my elder son was off to University in London, Ontario and my middle daughter wanted to go away to school however I asked her to stay one more year here, go to York U instead so that at least the little one would finish grade 8 and when she went to high school it would be easier. So my middle daughter agreed to stay.

Everything Is About To Change…On my birthday, Dec. 8, 2002, I got up in the morning feeling apprehensive. The night before I had nightmares for some reason and woke up feeling restless. Usually I was feeling good on my birthdays but that birthday was different.

We went to see the movie Transporter and when we got home, my little one said – mom I forgot my purse in the movie theatre, can we go get it? I said – why don’t you have your brother take you and by the time you get home dinner will be ready and we can celebrate my birthday. So off they went only they got into an accident and my little one died, my son got hurt badly and the police called me an hour later to tell me to come to the hospital, that my son was ok and talking, I asked about my little one and they said they didn’t know yet, they took her to another hospital but I should come to York Central Hospital to see my son.

Both me and my middle one are going in a panic in the car, we come to the hospital and my son is laying there bleeding and saying to me, mom I am ok, go see Shannon (we didn’t know anything yet).

They told me to wait until they find out because they said she is in surgery.

Then they told me to go to Sunnybrook hospital and “she is ok” she is in surgery.

So we both (my middle daughter and I) drive to Sunnybrook. We arrive there, they tell us that she is in surgery, I want to go in and they wouldn’t let me and then the doctor comes out and says – “we did everything we could but she didn’t make it”.

In the meantime, Mike was on his way to come pick me up after I celebrated my b-day with my kids, to go spend some time together. Instead, we met at the hospital and if not for him, I would have collapsed. He was like a rock for me when I needed him the most.

I can’t tell you enough how difficult that time was for me and my kids. In the morning we went to the funeral home to make arrangement and the next day we buried her.

My husband didn’t come to the shiva (7 day mourning period after the burial) and on the first day after the shiva finished he sent someone from the courts to hand me to divorce papers.

There was no talk of divorce up to that point, but he just wanted to run away and not deal with the tragedy – he couldn’t bear the loss of his little princess.

So here I am, faced with 2 kids who are totally devastated. My son drove the car that killed her, but even though it wasn’t his fault because he tried to prevent the accident by swerving to the left, the other person hit them on my little one’s side, but the law says that whomever makes the last move is the one who is charged.

So now, not only I have just lost my daughter, and my marriage, now I have to try to make sense with what’s happening with my son. (My middle daughter was ready to take pills to end it all).

I had to find him a lawyer right away to defend him. They made a deal with the crown and reduced the charges from dangerous driving causing death to careless driving so that he won’t lose his degree as an engineer (which he had one more year to complete). He went back to school and failed all his courses. The dean came to him and said – Robert, “you are a smart young man and we want you to graduate with your class so we are assigning you a counselor and you will do it.

He finished with honors but then it hit him that he killed his sister and for 1 1/2 year he was in the basement in the dark looking at the wall. He was totally depressed and didn’t have the energy to find work. He made some attempts to find work however those hiring could see he was depressed and without experience so they refused him.

With the guidance of Mike, my son did get a job with a company that helps make airplanes fly – the irony is that Shannon wanted to be a pilot! The name of the company was half my name AVI and half God’s name YA (in Hebrew) – AVIYA.  My daughter was looking over us!

My middle daughter wanted to end it and I convinced her otherwise.

We struggled. I worked outside of the house and at home. I had to go back to work right away because no one else would pay my bills and my family is all over the place, none in Canada.

Mike and my friends were there for me every step of the way and because of them I am here today, they encouraged me, they supported me with being there, with words of comfort and support.

I changed 6 jobs while grieving. I just couldn’t find a good place. While all this is going on, I had to wait for trial against the insurance company.

Just now, after 6 1/2 years, they finally settled. Although it wasn’t much and it wasn’t what my lawyer promised me, I decided to accept whatever it was and put a closure on it.

I will never ever be the same person again but I am trying to make some sense of my life.

I took some of the money from the settlement and paid off the mortgage so that is a big load of my mind.

I put the rest in the bank and am thinking of having my own clinic.

My son got married to a lovely girl last year and in the wedding my ex husband tried to get back together with me. ya right, like I would give him the time of day.

My daughter is finally working as a teacher and in the end of the month will move in with her boyfriend who is her future husband.

So I have done my part raising my kids and seeing them through their difficult times.

Now Mike has said yesterday that he wants to take me for a 3 week cross Canada trip on a motorcycle and then he will move here to Toronto. He is hoping to find a job here soon.

I am grateful for where my family and I are at in our lives.

Hugs,

Avi




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