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Hello world! Sharing my Story of Surviving Suicide

May 4, 2010

Intro:

I’ve thought many times about starting a blog about suicide, talked myself out of it far too many times thinking it was too negative a topic, but yesterday I was grounding myself and it came to me that I really need to just start and see what happens, so here it is! I’ll give you a bit of background so that you can understand how things progressed.

Background & History:

I was touched by suicide almost 10 years ago when my late husband, Rob, battled with huge depression and was finally diagnosed bi-polar just shortly before he took his own life. I’d been with him almost 30 years, he was always very mercurial, but just figured that was his personality. As I learned more about bi-polarism, it explained much. The huge mood swings, the hi’s and low’s.

I used to describe life with him as walking on eggshells, never quite knowing what would set him off. We thought at one point that he had sugar level issues, hypoglycemia and looked into that, but never really had any resolution even once he dramatically eliminated sugar from his diet.

He was extremely intelligent, self-taught. When he got interested in something, usually technical or mechanical, he was insatiable! He’d immerse himself in everything and anything he could get his hands on to learn all he could about the new subject. He’d get into whatever his new focus was on in a big way, whether it be cars, cameras, stereo, tools, machinery, guns, boats. I’d know because all sorts of magazines would appear or books, then the purchasing would begin.

I used to joke and tell him he had “10 of” disease, as he could never have just one, had to always have multiples. Turns out this is very characteristic of bi-polars. When they’re on a high, they keep buying trying to recreate the original high they got on the first purchase, but it never does give them that same first experience no matter how many times they purchase. As a result of these varied interests, he was highly gifted mechanically, there wasn’t much he couldn’t take apart and repair and he became known for this ability and called on often by others.

His love for all things mechanical turned out to become his career as an automotive mechanic. When I first met him, I was 14 he was 18. I’d always see him across the street from my girlfriend’s house hanging over the engine compartment of either his own car or someone else’s. This was back in the 70’s, and at that time, he was into hod rods. Had an old Chevy Impala that he’d put more motors in than he could remember, but had put a 427 high performance engine into it and was finally satisfied with the blend of power and reliability of not blowing up.

He used to literally cruise the highway looking for people who had broken down, he’d stop, get them diagnosed and quite often end up repairing their cars and this became his apprenticeship. His friends were also into fast cars, would hang out at a local Harvey’s burger joint at Keele and 401 in Toronto that was known as “the” place to be for fast cars. They’d congregate most nights and on Fridays would sometimes race for pink slips, it really was a way of life.

Rob graduated from the “Wallpaper Express” which was what everyone else named his Chevy. The Chevy needed expensive body work and he didn’t have the money so instead, he used mack tack that was a sort of two tone bluish colour paisley along the sides. I know it sounds bad, but … it looked good actually. It was a convertible and I still recall sitting at the lights and literally vibrating lol!

The engine was insanely powerful and rumbled and shook when at idle. He then moved onto a Riviera, this was a much newer vehicle and in much better shape. He did a custom two tone paint job in black and copper, following the body lines and it looked fantastic. He totally redid the interior, and of course souped up the engine on that one too. He always had very different but powerful cars. They were his pride and joy!

I moved out with him to our own apartment when I was just 15 1/2 and actually had my 16th birthday in our brand new apartment much to my Mom’s horror. His parents were thrilled he was leaving home as they weren’t getting along and they liked me and knew I’d be a good influence on him so they not only encouraged the living together, they practically furnished us with everything we’d need to set up house other than furniture.

We lived in our new apartment for 2 years and then his parents retired out of the city and we had the opportunity to move into their bungalow where Rob had grown up. Once we moved into the house, he really began servicing customers’ cars in the driveway and it also became a way of life for us and helped with income as well.

In 1977, we were getting married and he had his eye now on a new BMW 320i. The cost of the bimmer was about $12K which might as well have been a million dollars to us at that time, but somehow we got a loan and he then decided he wanted to learn everything he could about BMW’s and went to a dealership in the Beaches area and applied.

He had no experience on these German cars, but told the owners he was an amazing German mechanic and that if they’d just give him the opportunity, he’d prove himself and be their top mechanic within a year. This began a very long love affair with BMW and he immersed himself in it and it was far less than a year before he proved what he’d said and he was their top mechanic.

This love of BMW’s became a way of life once again. This dealership was run by 2 German brothers, both were into racing BMW’s so the shop leant itself to high performance work as well. It wasn’t long before Rob was swapping out engines in our 320 (the bank would have had a fit had they known! lol!) and getting as much power out of it as was possible.

Eventually he put a 6 cylinder engine in what came from the factory a 4 cylinder engine, plus of course, he added a turbo charger. The car was absolutely stunning and could blast off like no tomorrow. I can’t recall the 0-60, but it was ridiculous! People were shocked at how much road it could cover in very little time, a few testified at traffic court lol! Rob was an extremely aggressive driver and had quite a few run ins with the law over the years, I think he lost his driver’s license a few times, but for sure twice.

He began to build a reputation for being the “go to” guy for bimmers, and had an agreement with his bosses that he wouldn’t steal customers from them, but that they knew he worked on the side at home for some of the more high performance crowd. We’d attend many BMW Car Club gatherings or track meets and had a lot of fun. It was also a very social group. Wasn’t too long before he had about 30-40 regulars coming to have work done at home and I pushed him that it was time to go into business for himself. He was reluctant, but finally went into business in 1986 and opened his first shop.

That’s enough for today, but stay tuned ….

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