I returned home. In the letter box an envelope. It had been sent to our old address, even though we had moved four years ago. I was not expecting any particular mail. I open the envelope and the world will never be the same as before. Mr Ivan Tomek had died. When one is young, death is something very abstract. My grandparents who I loved very much and their deaths are long ago. Back then, I was very very sad but it did not shake the pillars of my world.
With this obituary it was different. I was 18 when I met Mr Tomek. He was the father of my first boyfriend. With him a very special world opened to me. Mr Tomek was funny, very clever, well-read, and intellectual with every trait of his personality. He also was political, as I had not experienced it before. Our meeting back then was as if one enters a mirror labyrinth for the first time and discovers something new at each corner. At first I had a lot of respect for him with later turned into esteem. Over many years we met regularly and had many discussions. He also tried to fill the gaps of my physics knowledge. An impossible task, since my physics knowledge exists mainly of all kinds of gaps. Even though he explained Ohm’s law to me at least 20 times, this knowledge never actually made it to my brain. I was never really interested in theoretical physics. Nevertheless I loved it to listen to his explanations of this law. For anyone interested, Ohm’s law states that the current through a conductor between two points is directly proportional to the potential difference across the two points. The formula URI is a mathematical equation that describes this relationship. With the help of Ohm’s law, the three basic parameters of an electrical circuit can be calculated, if at least two parameters are known. The three parameters are current, electric voltage and resistance. The physicist Georg Simon Ohm found and proved the relationship between current, electric voltage and resistance. Ohm’s law was named after him. Maybe now it is clearer, why I never came to familiar terms with this law.
We knew each other for a long time and I always addressed him formally. I only addressed him as Mr Tomek. One day he unexpectedly said: “Don’t you want to call me Ivan?” Until that day I had not considered that option. He had surprised me. I excused myself and said that I have to think about it. About one week later I returned and told him that I cannot do it. I cannot call him Ivan. If he would not mind, I would prefer if everything stays as it is. The respect I had towards his knowledge, far-sightedness and experience was just too much. We stayed with the mixed form so that he called me by my first name and I addressed him by his surname.
There is hardly anyone in my life, which I would have preferred to address formally despite intense contact. He was the big exemption. Now he is gone. His death hit me hard. I liked him very much. Even though we had hardly any contact in the last years, he was always present for me and every now and then I thought of him or Ohm’s law, which was the same in my imagination. With his death, I became painfully aware of the finiteness of life. I know that also someone else could explain Ohm’s law but probably no one could do is with such twinkle of mischief in his eyes and understanding for a philistine like me.
Mr Tomek, thank you for everything. I am glad I had you in my live. Godspeed on your journey, wherever it will take you.