Sunday, June 27, 2010

Grandpa Ryan

Later posts will discuss Grandpa as a father (in the context of posts about each of his children).  But for now, I want to write about Grandpa.  Grandpa reveled in the role.  In the end there were 25 grandchildren:  7 Joneses, 4 McCaffertys, 6 Hansens, and 8 Ryans.  Grandma and Grandpa loved their family.  When I was young, Grandma and Grandpa sold the family home in Wyoming and built a two-bedroom ranch on Galbraith Rd. in Amberley Village.

Their new home was perfect for what was to come.  Each holiday we would fill the basement with long tables that were able to seat everyone by family.  In the beginning, Great-Grandpa Vonderheide had the place of honor at the head of the table.  Following his death, Grandpa held that seat.  The table was set with crystal and china for the adults -- I am the proud owner of all of it.  We had a routine for doing dishes following each holiday dinner.

Every Christmas each grandchild (with the assistance of parents) was allotted $10 to buy gifts.  Evey tells the story of wanting some special material that was going to "break the budget".  After searching for material that fell within the guidelines, Grandma went ahead and purchased what Evey really wanted.  Evey was spending the night at Grandma and Grandpa's house and heard them discussing this budget dilemma.  She recalls Grandpa saying that she (Evey) was worth it.  What a memory.

At Christmas Grandpa would put up two displays in the yard.  One would be of Santa, his sleigh and all of the reindeer.  He had constructed all of it.  The other was of a life-size manger.  It was surrounded by fir trees.

Luckily for us, Grandma Ryan wrote the date and names of everyone in this picture.  The picture was taken on January 2, 1955.  Uncle Jim is on the left holding Terry.  Moving to the right is Jim, Patty, Tom, Kathleen, Chuck, Bill, Carol, Evelyn, Tim, (front row - Diane, Mary Ellen, Karen and Steven).

Every Easter found all of us in our Easter best, often with the girls wearing hats, out in the front yard for the Easter Egg hunt.  From the very beginning, we tended to be born in groups of three:  Year 1 - Kathleen, Chuck and Bill, Year 2 - Tom, Evey and Carol, etc.  We had built-in cousins who were comparable in age.  What a childhood!

When we were older, I remember a trip to Container Corporation on Wooster Pike where Grandpa worked as a machinist.  This particular business produced corrugated paper boxes, among other things.  Grandpa arranged for all of us to tour the plant to get a better feel for what he did for a living.

Eventually Grandpa was diagnosed with cancer.  A tumor had grown into his jaw.  The surgery was intense.  They literally had to remove his jaw and try to fashion the semblance of a jaw with a rib they removed from his rib cage.  Cosmetically, it had to be hard.  He was unable to eat solid foods and had to hold a tissue at the corner of his mouth to catch saliva.  If his situation got him down, I was not aware of it.  Knowing he was not going to survive this, Grandma and Grandpa hired a bus and took the entire family for a day at Clifty Falls State Park in Indiana.  I'm sure my aunts and uncles were aware of just how ill Grandpa was -- to some degree I am sure I was aware.  However, our grandparents gave us one more priceless childhood memory on that bus.  Grandma made her famous pecan rolls and Uncle Jim tried to "steal" them before we got there.

Here is a picture taken with Grandpa with all seven Jones kids from what looks like the view of Cincinnati from Devou Park in Kentucky.  He is holding Don.  Sometimes I am sad that the "little kids" do not share the same memories as the "big kids" in our family.  Hopefully they will know that they were loved.

Royal Joseph Francis Ryan was died on October 26, 1965 at the age of 65.  He is buried at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Montgomery, Ohio.

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