‘She never complained’: Toronto woman’s life cut short by van attack – Toronto

0
Fewer than 30 new COVID-19 cases reported in Waterloo Region for 3rd straight day

[ad_1]

TORONTO — Amaresh Tesfamariam‘s heart stopped beating several times over the past three and a half years.

There were numerous “code blues,” too many for her family to remember, with staff rushing to bring her back to life at the hospitals she stayed at ever since becoming one of 26 people run down in Toronto’s horrific van attack.

But Tesfamariam returned again and again to her bedridden life. Each time she had to relearn how to speak through a ventilator valve, a process made difficult by her paralysis from the neck down.

Read more:
Death toll rises from 2018 Toronto van attack after victim dies in hospital: police

Yet she kept smiling, her family said, and even filled the room with a booming laugh when she could.

Story continues below advertisement

On Oct. 28, her heart beat for the final time in the intensive care unit at Michael Garron Hospital. She died from massive bleeding in the lungs due to being on a ventilator for years, her family said.

“Her life was beautiful, then the attack happened,” her sister Azeb Tesfamariam said in a phone interview from Eritrea, where the 65-year-old was buried last week.

“She never complained, she never cursed,” her brother Belay Tesfamariam said from Washington, D.C.

Amaresh Tesfamariam’s life changed in an instant on April 23, 2018.

Read more:
Top court denies family’s request to seal material found in Toronto van attacker’s home

At 1:20 p.m., she called her sister to chat. The two spoke many times every day. Tesfamariam told her sister she wanted to soak in the sunshine on the unusually warm day before heading underground to take the subway to Fudger House, the long-term care home where she worked as a nurse.

Also Read:  Oregon deputy shoots and kills pet chimpanzee that attacked woman's daughter: "I'm trying to guard her from a 200-pound ape"

About 10 minutes later, Tesfamariam, then 62, walked northbound on the sidewalk of Yonge Street as Alek Minassian sped toward her in a rented van. She stopped at the sight of the van and tried to get out of its way, his murder trial heard, but she was hit and thrown to the ground, suffering catastrophic injuries. Ten people died that day and 16, including Tesfamariam, were injured.

Story continues below advertisement

She would spend the rest of her life in hospital, first at Sunnybrook hospital, where she was rushed immediately after the attack, then at Michael Garron Hospital.

“She really fought for three and a half years,” said her niece, Luwam Ogbaselassie, one of several family members in Toronto who helped care for her. “I’m overwhelmingly sad, but there’s also a real sense of relief that she’s finally able to rest.”


Click to play video: 'Alek Minassian found guilty of 10 counts of 1st-degree murder after 2018 Toronto van attack'



Alek Minassian found guilty of 10 counts of 1st-degree murder after 2018 Toronto van attack


Alek Minassian found guilty of 10 counts of 1st-degree murder after 2018 Toronto van attack – Mar 3, 2021

Tesfamariam was born on March 12, 1956, in Ethiopia, the third oldest of four brothers and five sisters.

She became an elementary school teacher and in the 1980s moved to Eritrea to be with her parents, who had moved there earlier, her family said.

When the Eritrean-Ethiopian war escalated, Tesfamariam left for a new life in Canada. She settled in Montreal, where she lived for nearly a decade.

Story continues below advertisement

Also Read:  Adam Sandler Recreates Iconic 'Happy Gilmore' Drive On Movie's Anniversary

She struggled to find meaningful work in the city, bouncing from job to job, and eventually moved to Toronto in search of new opportunities, her family said.

In 1999, at age 43, Tesfamariam went back to school to become a nurse.


Click to play video: 'Mayor John Tory says he feels “overwhelmed with anger and sadness” on 3rd anniversary of Toronto van attack'



Mayor John Tory says he feels “overwhelmed with anger and sadness” on 3rd anniversary of Toronto van attack


Mayor John Tory says he feels “overwhelmed with anger and sadness” on 3rd anniversary of Toronto van attack – Apr 23, 2021

She met Elena Benito on her first day of class at George Brown College in Toronto. Benito had recently arrived from Eritrea herself and the pair bonded quickly.

It was Tesfamariam’s smile that caught Benito’s attention, she said.

“Even though she was old for school, we became friends,” Benito said. “She was so happy to be joining the program and we helped each other a lot _ but she helped me more.”

Tesfamariam eventually found her calling as a nurse at Fudger House. Benito later joined her there.

Story continues below advertisement

“She’s a good model for me and for other nurses,” Benito said. “I was serious, but I start to smile because she always smiles.”

Tesfamariam would always show up at least an hour early for her 3 p.m. shift and always stayed late, Benito said. Her big laugh made her a favourite with the home’s residents, whom she always advocated for, Benito added.

Read more:
Court to wait until 2022 to sentence man who killed 10 people in Toronto van attack

“All the residents who knew Amaresh, they miss her,” Benito said.

Also Read:  NBA YoungBoy Arrested on Drug Charges in Louisiana

Tesfamariam told others she was close to retirement, with plans to step away from the job in September 2018 and travel the world, Benito said. She had a large family she wanted to see, with loved ones in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Germany, Italy and throughout Canada and the United States.

Those family members came to visit her in hospital instead.

“She was special, she kept the family together, especially after our parents died,” her brother said. “Now that she’s gone, we are empty.”

Benito visited Tesfamariam every Tuesday and said her friend would grill her about the care residents were receiving at the nursing home where she used to work.

Story continues below advertisement

“Elena, make sure all the residents, they take the right medication,” Benito recalled Tesfamariam telling her.

Doctors told the family they didn’t expect Tesfamariam to live for more than a few months after the attack, but she was determined to live.

Read more:
John Tory vows to honour Toronto van attack victims every year to keep memories alive

“She would say, ‘I’m going to go home, it might be in a wheelchair, but I’m going to go home,”’ said her niece.

The family brought her body home to Asmara last week. A large contingent showed up at the airport in Eritrea’s capital to welcome her home.

Now her family is left with quiet, along with the memory of Tesfamariam’s bright smile.

“I miss my best friend,” Azeb Tesfamariam said through tears. “She should still be here with me.”




© 2021 The Canadian Press

[ad_2]

News Source

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here