Columbus man offers words of wisdom in weekly letters to his family

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comMay 9, 2014 

ROBIN TRIMARCHI/rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.comBob Tomayko of Columbus writes a letter every Monday evening to each of four adult children and his granddaughter and includes photos of family, friends, big events and special moments.


For more than a year, Bob Tomayko has written and mailed a card or letter to each of his four grown children and his granddaughter every week.

And he hasn't missed once.

When the Columbus man and his wife, Donna, went on a trip to Spain for their 35th wedding anniversary, Tomayko left his letters with a friend.

"I didn't want to pay that international postage," he said, laughing.

And these aren't ordinary cards and letters being sent by the 62-year-old TSYS employee. A few family photographs arrive with each. While every recipient gets the same written message, the photos might be different.

"I want them to remember how important it is to stay connected to family," Tomayko said.

His children say it is working. They often communicate with one another about their latest delivery.

There is always a theme.

The story may be something about his time as a child or young adult. It may be a story about something in his children's past. Many coincide with special occasions such as birthdays and holidays.

Recently, he helped a son move to Colorado. The card he sent that week told not only of their adventures on the road, but also of when he and his wife decided to move with four small children from Ohio to Georgia and the leap of faith it took to make that move.

When another son bought his first house, Tomayko's tale was of how he and his wife bought their first house on a whim.

"We did no research on it at all," Tomayko recalled of his first big buy.

Every Sunday, Tomayko dumps photographs onto a table and selects the ones to illustrate his story.

He smiled and said he is in many more of the photos than his wife.

"She was the one taking all the pictures and there are a lot of them," he said.

He began sending the letters in March 2013. The original idea was for his mother-in-law to do the letters both as something to keep her busy after the death of her husband and to also help her fading memory.

"She did it for about a week," he said.

He began during Lent and said he never thought he would be doing it this long.

His daughter, Emily Tomayko Martin, lives with her husband, Steve, in Wisconsin and keeps the cards on her refrigerator. Of them, she remarked, "By sharing these stories, I really think it has helped us relate to our parents in a totally different way by understanding how they went through similar experiences in their lives. Sometimes they are funny. They often have a message in them about the importance of family and making the most out of the opportunities we are given in life. My dad hopes that one day after he is gone, we will put the pieces of the family history together through the cards and pictures he has shared with us."

She said it is also a way for the children to keep alive the memory of their three deceased grandparents and that she and her siblings get a glimpse of family history they may not have known.

"Seeing the parallel in our lives also has helped me my parents in a different light as I learn about their engagement, marriage and big decisions they have made as

they started their life together."

It is not unusual that Tomayko would take on such a project. He said he has always loved to write and his children say he has always been a terrific storyteller.

Danny Tomayko, 34, who lives with his wife, Jen, in Cumming, Ga., said he gets a kick out of the letters.

"It has been great looking back at our past," he said. "I know some of the stories but there are plenty I have never heard before. I really love the mix of photos."

Erin Howlett, 29, lives with her husband, Kyle, and 5-year-old daughter, Addison, in Covington, Ga.

"The memories are wonderful. I love it," she said. "I would like to put all of these in a book for him."

She said the family has always been a close one and this has brought them even closer. She said Addison does not quite understand the cards but enjoys looking at them.

Tommy Tomayko, 26, lives in Denver.

"My father wants to leave his legacy," he said.

He called the idea unique and "really cool.

His coworkers hear about the weekly story and has all of the notes and photos in a box under his bed.

"I keep them all," he said.

The father, who plans to continue the project as long as he can, said his mother used to send out similar cards but just once a year.

"I think she was just trying to get rid of old photos," he said.

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