Our Story of Tapani (Taps) Tuomisto
Tapani was born on May 25, 1954 in Finland. His first home was a farm house that his father built there. He emigrated to Canada with his parents and me, his younger sister Anita, in April of 1958. We lived with our great uncle and aunt until our parents purchased their first and only home in Toronto 6 months later. Our mother fondly recalls, shortly after coming to live with our great uncle, Tapani asking him one morning,where he was going. His uncle told him he was going to work. Tapani, having come from a farming family, asked him where his fields were.
Tapani was quiet but strong willed as a boy and through life. As a teenager, he tried to fix a couple of beater cars, one successfully, which was a Falcon. I had the honour of getting occasional rides to and from high school while it still ran. He moved out of the family home at an early age, after high school. At that time, pool halls and bars were high on his list of entertainment. One day he asked me if I wanted to move in and share his 2 bedroom apartment, to make my break from living at home. I did move in and shortly after, at his request, I accompanied him to a local bar where he was spotted by two girls who kept him busy talking all evening.
There, at the next table, I met my husband, so I have Tapani, in part, to thank for meeting the love of my life. Our sister Anne, being 9yrs younger than Tapani, did not see as much of him through those years, so we often talked about taking a road trip to find him after he moved out to B.C. Life and circumstances seemed to always get in the way of actually doing it. Our children had since, talked about taking a trip out there as well to see their uncle, who they never had the chance to know. Only the eldest has a vague memory of him before he left.
Tapani, Taps to his friends, was a quiet, gentle soul who wanted nothing more than to enjoy life and have some good laughs with people. He had a great sense of humour. He would laugh hysterically while listening to the Monty Python’s Flying Circus radio show, watching the Monty Python movies or, Tom & Jerry and Bugs Bunny cartoons. He always showed up at Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving while he lived close enough. He was famous for his last minute Christmas shopping. He really enjoyed getting together.
Tapani was a wanderer. He rode his 10 speed bike long distances and would show up unannounced at relatives cottages in the Marmora area or in Peterborough, just for a visit. Then he was gone again. He worked to afford to travel for a good part of his younger years. He did a tour of Europe, including Finland, where we have relatives. He spent a month and 1/2 in Jamaica after having moved to Thunder Bay, Ontario.
He lived in Thunder Bay for a while but got tired of the cold winters. He eventually worked his way through Edmonton and then finally out to B.C. There he fell in love with the beautiful land of trees, lakes and mountains. That is where he said he would live and die. In B.C., he lived for many years at the Mermaid Lodge, then shared a rustic log cabin with a friend for a bit in the Ainsworth and Balfour area. He loved the views of Kootenay Lake and the mountains on the other side.
Tapani was talented in architectural drawing and furniture design and building. He made a beautiful solid cherry wood coffee table for our sister, Anne, which she treasures still. He was a perfectionist, like his father, and built his creations with meticulous detail. He also tried his hand at photography to capture some of the beautiful scenery of Ontario and B.C. Tapani did carpentry work in his early years in B.C. and fell back on his experience in the printing industry as a press operator when there was a shortage of work.
His health issues gradually prevented him from continuing those trades or living the life style he loved.
There were long periods during which time we had no contact with him and no information about him. Much to the dismay of his family here in Toronto, especially his mother, he did not keep a phone for many years of his life in B.C. Over the years, calls that came once or twice a year, in the beginning, at Christmas and Mother’s Day, no longer came at all. We were not aware of the extent of his medical issues through most of those years and had difficulty tracking him down.
We managed to get a message to him last year after our father passed away on June 7th 2019 and coincidentally, he called us back on the day off the funeral. We had not heard back from him since.
On June 26th, a call came from Kootenay Lake Hospital that Tapani was gravely ill and then a second call came the next day, June 27th that he had passed away at 12:30pm, quietly and peacefully. The nurses knew him quite well and said what a nice guy he was. He was also well liked in his community, we were told, by his support worker, Dylan
Tapani’s prolonged absence from our lives has caused our family to go through a sort of mourning process through the years, realizing that we may not see him again. Now that realization came true with his passing. Our hearts sank with the news. We deeply regret that we will not have the chance to see him now, but still hope to visit B.C. some day to see the places he loved and where he lived. Our mother, now 90 years old, though her memory is failing, still remembers all of Tapani’s moves from place to place and sent him a birthday card every year, often not knowing whether he had received them or not.
Tapani, you were always a free spirit in life. Now you’re free again.
We love you and miss you.
Thank you to the kind people at Nelson Cares Society as well as the doctors and staff at Kootenay Lake Hospital for your care and support of Tapani in his times of need.
Tapani is lovingly remembered by his mother, Aini, sister Anita & husband Dave, sister Anne, nieces Lea & husband Paul, Shannon & husband Jamie, Maija, nephew Liam, great niece Olivia, great nephew Gavin, aunts, uncles and many cousins in Canada and Finland.
Tapani will be interred at Nelson Memorial Cemetery in Nelson, British Columbia on July 17, 2020 at 2 p.m. Pacific time, 5 p.m. Eastern time.
Unfortunately our family can not attend, so there will be no formal service held at that time, but Gwen Ziprick of Thompson Funeral Services will say a prayer on our behalf for Tapani.