Some 30 years ago I served as the coach of the Côte Saint-Luc PeeWee "AA" Avengers, a baseball team where the players were only about five years younger than I. They were a good group of kids and our team did fairly well in the standings.
Mitchell Goldbloom (pictured at the right) was a talented left handed hitter who could play most positions. What I remember most about Mitchell at the time was his good humour and absolute politeness. Like other players on that team, after the season ended and I concluded my coaching career, I would run into Mitchell from time to time. I lost track of him until four years ago when, after being elected to Côte Saint-Luc City Council, I got to know one of my co-elected officials Sam Goldbloom. This was Sam’s first term in office, like me, and the two of us hit it off from the start.
When Sam’s mother-in-law passed away I went to the shiva and there was Mitchell Goldbloom, my former player. He was Sam’s son. Now a successful lawyer in Toronto, he was married to Dana Soroka and the father of two young girls. Mitchell and I reminisced that day. I also met his younger brother Mark, he too a Toronto attorney.
Mitchell graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology in 1989 and then Queen's University Law School in 1992. He then articled and worked as an associate in Ottawa for a national law firm. After moving to Toronto, for a number of years prior to joining the firm of Landy Marr Kats LLP, he acted as Enforcement Counsel for the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council. Accordingly, he acquired a unique experience with respect to the litigation before administrative tribunals, specifically the License Appeal Tribunal and the Divisional Court. At Landy Marr Kats his practice focused strictly on civil litigation and eventually was named a partner.
As Sam and I became friends he would often talk about his two boys. He and his wife Beverly looked so forward to their frequent trips to Toronto. But for the Goldblooms, just less than two years ago, their lives came crashing down. Mitchell had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer of the sinus. All looked very grim as doctors explained the disease was in such a difficult spot, seemingly impossible to reach. Mitchell was a fighter and he looked into every possible treatment imaginable. Initially he underwent a risky 13 hour operation which would end up causing him blindness in one eye and bad effects to his hearing. Work stopped and stays in the hospital were uncomfortable and long. When a stem cell transplant was performed Mitchell’s diagnosis turned around. Doctors told him he was in remission and plans were underway for him to return to the law firm. He even got to go on a nice holiday with his family. In July he called Sam from his cell phone to announce there was a suit sale at Harry Rosen and he was off to buy a few new ones.
Throughout this whole ordeal, Sam was a rock. He travelled to Toronto regularly, yet rarely missed a city council meeting or function. In addition, he kept busy in his day job as a sales representative for Cruise Ship Centres. Bev was a teacher in the adult education system. Since she was spending so much time in Toronto it was becoming increasingly difficult for her to meet those demands.
In August Mitchell became ill again. The cancer had spread to his brain. A new series of radiation and chemotherapy was initiated. Seizures ensued. Bev moved to Toronto full-time. Sam went back and forth. Through all of this, as Sam stood by his bedside, Mitchell gathered all the strength he could and asked his dad for a promise. Sam was up for re-election in Côte Saint-Luc and Mitchell wanted to make sure that his illness would not interfere in that process. "Win that election for me dad," he asked.
On October 2, Sam was acclaimed to office in District 1. Soon after, Mitchell’s condition became more critical. Sam and Bev were off to Toronto, this time for an extended stay. Mitchell was suffering from terribly painful seizures and while he was fighting to stay alive it became clear that he was losing the battle. One day he squeezed his dad’s hand, thanking him for fulfilling his promise and returning to council for another mandate.
Last week Sam shared with his colleagues the news we all feared. There was no saving Mitchell. It was now only a matter of time. Our hearts broke when we were told that Mitchell’s two little girls, aged six and eight, would come to the hospital for the final time and say their good-byes. Sam and Bev understandably could not bear to witness this. Dana, Mitchell’s wife, was strong. Not only is she a physician herself, but sadly she watched her own brother Seth die of heart complications just a few years ago.
On October 21, at the age of 42, Mitchell died at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. "He was brave kid," said Sam. "He never gave up. Over the last while, when he realized what probably would occur, he made a series of video recordings which will be shown to his daughters at different stages of their lives. I am proud of Mitchell and equally proud of his brother Mark, who was there with him and his family every step of the way. Life will go on for us. But it will be different. It will never be the same. This just is not fair. I often asked, ‘why not take me?’ I have lived a good life. Why take my son?"
I reached Keith Landy, the managing partner of the law firm Mitchell worked at. I go way back with Keith from our days at Canadian Jewish Congress together. Mitch was an inspiration to us all of us," he said. "He put up this incredible fight. In spite of being 'knocked back' at almost every turn, he was determined to fight this awful disease. From the time he got sick in February 2008, his focus was to get well and get back to work. We assured Mitch that his position was secure and his office was waiting for him as soon as he was ready.
"Mitch will be missed by all and especially by his clients who loved him. Not a day went by, during these past months without someone inquiring how he was doing. Mitch lived for his family and his work as a lawyer. He was devoted to Dana,Talia and Jordan. He would often leave the office in time to put the kids to bed, and then return to work on the file for the next day in Court. He loved being a lawyer. He loved the 'cut and thrust' of advocacy in Court, and if he had a difficult case he would try to win the Judge over with his great sense of humour. At the firm, we all loved Mitch. He will be sorely missed. "
For Mitchell Goldbloom the suffering is over. Tragically, his daughters spent far too short a time with him. But they will always be able to remember what a special person he was.
"Everyone he came into contact always remembered his zest for life, sense of humour,devotion to his family and loving nature," said Sam. "It is so painful - there is a terrible void - but we will always remember Mitch and honour his wishes that we resume living."
Rest in peace Mitchell!
Donations in his memory may be made to the Mitchell Goldbloom Fund at Mount Sinai Hospital's Max and Beatrice Wolfe Children's Grief Centre 416-586-8203 ext. 3936.