Monday, June 27, 2011
James Hugh Ryan - A Celebration of Life
I attended a "Celebration of Life" for a relative I had the pleasure of knowing for about two hours. He is my first cousin, once removed. My mother was his first cousin. I can only say I wish I had known him.
Jim is one of the relatives that I had the opportunity to meet because of this blog. A couple of cousins found this blog by searching on their names. One of the search results was this blog, leading us all to meet and share artifacts and family stories in February. You can read about it here. Jim knew that he had colon cancer that had metastasized to his lung, but he, his wife Peg, and son, Tim came to our little reunion anyway -- and I am so glad he did.
Jim was the son of Raymond Matthew Ryan and grandson of James Hugh Ryan -- the head of the Ryan family that first settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. Both the names "James" and "Hugh" are sprinkled throughout my family tree, but usually not in that combination. If anyone was to carry the name forward, Jim seems to have been the right guy. I'm told he inherited a great sense of humor and was a jokester, much in the tradition of his father.
I won't pretend to try to summarize the life of someone I knew so little, but I got to meet his four children, their spouses, and eleven grandchildren. Pictures of his life were found on posters and you just can't fake in pictures the obvious love that Jim had for his wife, Peg.
I learned of frequent family camping trips to the Ohio River. His children cherished the memories and as a River Rat myself, I could identify. He was described as a man not rich in the financial sense, but rich in family and the blessings that can bring. His was a life well-lived and one that will continue in the lives of the family and friends he so obviously touched. I would estimate that about 300 people were present at his funeral. That says a lot about the man I hardly knew.