a peek inside the fishbowl

18 Apr, 2017

The Wednesday after the Tuesday

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

I was downtown today, for an appointment with a surgeon about the potential removal of a non-cancerous cyst. I arrived early, worried about traffic and parking, so I had a few extra minutes to walk and think, and now I am trying to put those thoughts down in a way that makes sense.

As I sit here now, in my family room, tapping away with the sun on my back, I find myself feeling thankful. I am thankful for the good things I have. There are so many.

There was more I wanted to add to my recent post but I didn’t want to tack it on the end like an afterthought. I actually wrote and deleted many words before hitting the publish button. I wrestled with writing anything at all and thought a lot about what this blog is actually all about; its Purpose. Is it a record of our lives, or just the best or more interesting or humorous parts of our lives?

That happy feeling I had, the one that was the result of a great day to myself and the 16th birthday of our youngest daughter, didn’t last. Well, it lasted until the next morning when I opened my email and saw a note from a person who’s never reached out to me before. My father’s wife, who he married after my parents divorced when I was in my early twenties, wrote to tell me that he had passed away the night before. He was 73.

Some of you already know the story. In a nutshell, my father found religion and hasn’t been part of my life for the past 20 years. Sometime during my last year of university, he called to tell me he was moving. I asked him where he was moving to, because that’s what you ask when someone tells you they’re moving, right? There was a pause, a very uncomfortable pause that went on for too long before he told me he would not be giving me his new address. That was the last time we spoke.

How do you mourn someone who hasn’t been part of your life for such a long time?

I am writing about this here because I feel like I have to. The day should be marked somehow… and this is it.  Someone suggested I light a candle in his memory. There will be no candle. No flowers. No cards. It was also suggested I attend the funeral and bring the kids. This won’t be happening either. I don’t want anyone’s condolences, I just want to go on living my life.

I haven’t been able to pinpoint the right word to describe how I am feeling. I am not sad, mournful or bereaved. I’m not grief-stricken or morose. I knew he would go some day, but, in a way, he’s been dead to me for many years. I have a few happy memories of my childhood, but those are stored away like old family photographs.

Funny thing, there were times when it occurred to me that no one would tell me he’d died and that I’d somehow find out years after the fact. I guess I can say that I am relieved it didn’t unfold that way.

I do hope he had a happy life without me.

5 Responses to "The Wednesday after the Tuesday"

1 | Geneviève

April 18th, 2017 at 5:31 pm


I don’t know what to comment on this post, but I just want you to know that I am thinking of you.

2 | andrea tomkins

April 19th, 2017 at 7:44 am


Thanks Genevieve,
I have just reread what I wrote and to be honest, I’m not happy with it. The whole situation is so hard to put into words and I’ve been struggling with it all…

3 | Carla

April 19th, 2017 at 8:04 am


Sometimes, in situations like this, no words will do justice to explain or even to reach out. Such an important relationship, if not in the last 20 years, but assuming it was important in the time until he left with no known forwarding address, should be mourned/marked/closed for your own sake, to have a place to put those unwieldy feelings.

I am big believer in rituals for society, us humans, to work out our surroundings. We have them for big events in our life: birthdays, weddings, births, deaths, first house, etc.. His death was metaphorical earlier but now it is physical and it would seem that there is a need/desire/drive to mark that when you feel ready. No one can prescribe what that could be for you in this odd situation, but I encourage you to have a think about how you could mark this moment and achieve perhaps some sense of closure: maybe have a time dedicated to medidating on his presence, maybe write a letter and burn it, who knows? creativity here is good

4 | Claudette

April 19th, 2017 at 12:58 pm


I don’t have religion, I don’t seek it, I don’t know about it, and I’m content that way. But the night my grandmother died all the way in Switzerland, that night my picture she gave me (a photograph of her four kids, my mom being the oldest), came crashing down off a wall it’s been attached to forever.

I heard it, went to look, and there it was, broken on the floor. The glass and frame in a million pieces, but the picture was still intact.

I was perplexed. We don’t have pets that roam free, there was no one in that room…and I hadn’t recently touched that picture either.

I told my mom about it later, when she returned from her trip. She said something strange. She said ‘that was your grandmother saying goodbye on her way through’.

For some reason this story popped into my head.

May you allow yourself time for pondering, time for thinking, time for writing, time for reading. There is no right or wrong way to feel.


5 | Heather

April 19th, 2017 at 5:50 pm


Thanks for sharing so openly. I admire that.
Its okay to not like what you wrote but remember …
Dont let perfection be the enemy of the good.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (18) and Sarah (16). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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