Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mary Ryan, 1925-2011

This isn't exactly the kind of post I look forward to writing, but I wanted to take a minute to honor Mary Ryan, also known as "Granny," who passed away 1.5 weeks ago and whose funeral was last Wednesday. Many of you know how special she is to me and my family, as evidenced by our daughter carrying on her name.

It's always painful to say goodbye to someone, yet there is, in a weird sense, a relief that she is no longer sick and physically miserable. Granny was a feisty, active woman. Up until the final 2 weeks of her life, she was still going to work at the Marshfield Town Hall, where she worked for 50+ years. I know these last few months where she struggled with getting sick were difficult on her, not just physically but emotionally. Yet it was a privilege to visit her a few days before she passed away, to bring her a couple pictures of Mary and Luke, her 2nd and 3rd (out of 4) great-grandchildren.

There are a bunch of memories that I hold to, but some of my favorites will be her with my kids. Even though they won't remember her, I'm thankful Mary and Luke were able to meet their great-grandmother. Mary and Granny had a connection that went beyond their name. When Granny was around, Mary stopped what she was doing and made sure to sit on Granny's lap and kiss her over and over and over again. She wore Granny out, and I couldn't pay Mary to sit on my lap and kiss me!

Here are a couple pictures from the last couple years:

Granny and Mary after Mary was born.

Mary, Ryan and Mary Ryan.

Mary sharing a laugh with Granny (and about to pucker up for a kiss).

This one is probably my favorite. I wonder what Mary was telling her...

We don't have too many pictures of Granny and Luke. It wasn't long after he was born that she started to get sick, and she got weaker as he got heavier and squirmier. But here's one with Granny, Mary and Luke (and Layla, the doll).

I wish I had the time and space to talk about Granny's life; it would probably make for a pretty good movie. When I stop and think about all she overcame, it's remarkable she did so well: being orphaned as a child, treated as a house slave by a foster family in the Great Depression (picture Cinderella before the Fairy Godmother showed up), but marrying a WWII vet, having a family and ultimately living long enough to see 12 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren born.

When I think about her story it reminds me that our God truly does make beauty from ashes. Granny was proof of that. I love her and miss her.

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