Young Widow Forum > General Discussion

We have lost one of our own

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His name was Fly.  Here on this board, he called himself Tofinoman.  We connected about 14 months ago after I responded to one of his early threads about anger.  He sent me a PM thanking me for my response.  We started a conversation from that point forward, sharing stories of our late spouses, our families, and our day-to-day activities.  A friendship blossomed.  We communicated a couple of times a day since late June of 2016.

He lost his beloved wife Jenny in March of 2016 when she slipped and fell while running on a mountain trail and hit her head.  He, like all of us, was devastated.  Jenny was his lifesaver, the person who taught him what love and family were supposed to be.  Fly had left his abusive home as a young teen and forged out on his own.  He was scrappy, entrepreneurial, and determined.  He lived a rough lifestyle – until he met his Jenny, a calm and sheltered pastor’s daughter who needed a room at his remote motel late one night when her car broke down.  She caught his attention, introduced him to her loving family, and they were married 5 months later.  Jenny went on to university and medical school.  Fly expanded his skills at flying helicopters and small planes and building several businesses.  Just over 6 years ago, they had a little girl they affectionately call Boo.

Fly and I were an unlikely pair to forge a friendship.  He was a man of deep faith and I am a non-believer.  He was more politically conservative and I am much more liberal.  Fly had endless drive to work, to achieve, to jump higher, drive faster, to do anything daring.  He was determined that his daughter would never have to know the life of poverty and abuse into which he was born.  He inspired his loyal employees to stretch themselves further than they would have imagined possible.

Fly and I had planned to meet last January when he was wintering in Mexico, but just a couple of days after Christmas, he became acutely ill, was hospitalized, and was diagnosed with lung cancer.  He spent most of the next few months hospitalized.  Instead of getting to visit, we kept in touch through texting and I came to know several of his family members, friends, and employees as they kept their vigil at his bedside when he was critically sick.  Eventually, he was able to leave the hospital and sail back home to British Columbia. 

Even weak from illness and hospitalization, he immediately went back to working, flying search and rescue missions, Airmed evacuations, re-certifying his pilots, and other assorted jobs.  He met with oncologists back in BC and learned that his cancer continued to spread.  He chose to keep working.  Wildfires kicked up in British Columbia, and although fresh out of the hospital for pneumonia, Fly chose to make a difference and with about a dozen of his helicopters and crews, he set out leading teams to evacuate residents and animals and fight the fires from the air.

In the last several weeks, Fly took a break from fighting fires with all of his crews as they brought the helicopters back for needed maintenance.  His daughter had the chance to get established with her teachers.  Fly returned to fire-fighting, however, he flew his last mission on September 2nd.  His sister flew in to bring him home and his oncologists confirmed on September 5th what he told me he knew…he was quite sick and did not have much time left.

We had our last conversation on Thursday, September 7th.  We both cried.  He wanted to talk to me while he could still talk. He was incredibly sad to be leaving his daughter; however, she will be raised by a village of amazing people that I have come to know.  He has told her that there are angels who still have not gone to heaven who will love her and take care of her.  There is an immense amount of love amongst Fly’s family and friends.  His daughter’s guardians have lived in her home her entire life and they love her as their own. 

He spent his last 10 days visiting his businesses and employees, pitching in to work, training a pilot on a new plane, riding his motorbike with family and friends, watching his daughter perfect her back flip on the diving board and getting her ready for bed at night. This is Fly…always thinking of others, loving working, pushing himself to the limits.

Yesterday, Fly sent me the following text:

“I am not a quitter…but just in case it is time, I want to say goodbye, hun.”

This morning, I received the news that he had died.

Our one regret is that distance, illness, and Fly’s call to use his last breaths for the benefit of his fellow citizens did not allow us the opportunity to meet in person.  Our friendship was full of love and caring and I know he challenged me to think outside my own boxes, to take risks, and to be open to opportunities where one might not expect them.  Losing my friend has kicked up my own grief for the loss of my husbands as well.  But in our last moments of conversation and tears we both acknowledged that having loved…our spouses as our lovers and each other as friends…was worth the pain.

Goodbye, my friend.  I will miss you….

Oh my gosh.  I'm a bit overcome thinking of his daughter losing her mother and then him so young, and of him and his Jenny, a story I know only from his posts, so not at all well.  I distinctly remember his post about his young daughter asking questions he couldn't answer - it stuck out to me then and now, though I don't think there was anything out of the ordinary in the post.  Just truth.  He seemed kind and honest and real and interesting to me, and I didn't even ever message with him.  Thank you for this beautiful post.  I'm so sorry to all of you who were close with him.  That little girl....  My heart's breaking. 

This is such sad news.  My heart aches for their little girl.  I too remember reading his posts and he sounded like such a good man.
Thank you Maureen for sharing a little more about Tofinoman.

I'm so sorry for the loss of your dear friend, Maureen, and for how it's understandably stirred up renewed grief for the losses of your husbands. Thank you for sharing his story. I remember reading his posts, but you gave much more insight into his character.

How unbearably sad that his little girl has lost both her parents, and at such a very young age, too. It's a relief to know her caregivers have already been with her all her life- one less major transition for her to process.

Comfort and peace to you.

I too remember his posts.  So sad to read this.  My heart is breaking for his daughter and family.  He sounds like an amazing man.


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