By Ken Kristjanson
Poor Uncle Joe has gone, you know,
To rest beyond the stars.
I miss him, oh! I miss him so,–
He had such good cigars.
He then tells us that his wife’s funeral urn is sitting in the room with an assortment of objects around it, a shrine of sorts. Then he adds that his son’s ashes are there in an urn with his favorite baseball cap on it.
Like any good writer, Tom knew that in tragic situations, in situations filled with sorrow and great emotion, it is necessary to avoid exaggerated expressions of feeling because they shove pathos into bathos, opera into soap opera, genuine feeling into melodrama.
Tom was pro. His writing was smooth, easy to read, his articles entertaining and thought provoking.
I’m sorry that he won’t be there to do another interview. We had sort of an erratic ritual.
The Icelandic Canadian community is poorer for his death. He wrote about a vast number of topics but, time and again, his comments had a line or two about us, about his Icelandic community.
In one of his last columns he says, “”Happy Icelanders” sounds a little bit — quite a lot, actually — like an oxymoron. The New York Times once referred to Icelanders as a notoriously lugubrious breed, and the immigrants who came to Canada in the 19th century brought that same sense of solemnity with them. If you have ever heard a joke about Icelanders or Icelandic-Canadians, please share it — as an Icelandic-Canadian, I would like the opportunity to stop taking myself so seriously.”
It is obvious that Tom took many things seriously but his writing proves that Icelanders do have a sense of humour and that thoughtfulness and caring go quite well with the ability to bring laughter into people’s lives.