It is with a heavy, heavy heart I whisper that we lost our dear Mum at 7pm, UK time, yesterday. Mum Ryan (how she always signed cards to Colin, particularly after his own lovely Mum passed some years ago) had a long and glorious life (she would have turned 89 on December 20th) and will be sorely missed by us all. We're bearing up. In her honour. For now...
Mum, a Liverpool lass by birth, married the only man she ever loved, my gentleman father Daniel Ryan, and together - in Scotland - they raised four children, though they sadly lost another three before my siblings and I came along. There were many trips to Lourdes as she and Dad found the strength to keep trying. And now, sixty seven years after they married, she's with Dad again. In his arms. Mum's beliefs, you see, were unshakable: remarkable, really, for a woman who, along with Dad, sacrificed so much to give each of us what we have.
Mum travelled the world with my father, back to his birth land of America (and specifically to West 57th St, New York, where Dad was born to Irish parents who ran a rooming house in the city), into Mexico, to Canada, across Europe and many other exciting places. But they always returned to their beloved Scotland (to Fort William, nestled quietly at the foot of Ben Nevis) where their life together was built and their family raised.
Mum, in her formative years, was a respected piano tutor, but when she eventually sold 'the big house' - a few years after Dad passed - and moved to a lovely bungalow (around the same time we bought our Glasgow home) she gifted us her beloved Collard and Collard baby grand, the one upon which she'd diligently taught so many keen pupils over the years. As recently as last year, Mum still thrilled in tinkling the piano's keys when visiting, although climbing the 50 some stairs in our Scottish home proved increasingly difficult as the years passed. But she WOULDN'T be beaten. She always made it up several flights to our drawing room's Piano Nobile.
And it was then the music would start. And the memories would flood back - as thick and fast as the relentless rain that poured down, daily, in Fort William when I was but a little boy. In one blessed instant, I'd be that little boy again, growing up beside a proud loch in the North West Highlands of Scotland... awakened by the sweet sound of the Collard and Collard as my Mum's hands danced mercilessly across the black and white keys. That's how my day always started...
Throughout her life, Mum learned Italian, taught RE - as an auxiliary educator - she was was a graphic illustrator for a time and cooked (and baked and gardened) like no one else. It's fair to report she had an unstoppable, unquenchable joie de vivre: a talent to which I can only aspire - and I'm a positive thinker. I've always been a glass half (to three quarters) full kind of person - rather than a glass half empty - but my Mum was ALWAYS a full glass of wonder for everything she touched. Always.
The little pic of Mum in the pink cardigan was taken just 10 weeks ago - by which point she'd made an unexpected recovery from her 10 year on/off battle with cancer. For this betterment we thank the staff at The Highland Hospice, a team of people who, as far as we're concerned, are other worldly. They brought our best girl back from the brink and released her: something, we imagine, that doesn't happen that often in a hospice. She recovered to enjoy one last summer. And one last Autumn. And for those two glorious, extra seasons we give thanks.
But Mum's betterment would only last a few months and after a short sojourn in Urray House, a lovely Highland rest home, she became poorly again, and we all held our breath. A few weeks ago she went back to the beautiful team at THH for her final care.
I'm sorry this has been a long, rambling message (my Mum would be MORTIFIED I've gone on so long) but I just wanted you all to get a feel for my wonderful, spirited girl. She was - and for all of us will remain - a shining light. A beacon. A never ending source of inspiration. And the best Mum (and Mum in law and grand mother) for whom any of us could have ever wished.
So sleep tight, Mum. You'll be forever in our thoughts. Forever in our hearts. Guiding the decisions we make. In that frank, honest and celebratory way you always did. Enjoy your reunion with Dad, your lost babies, your own parents, your sister Anne, brother Tom, and the many others with whom you're now reunited. For they - and you - have waited such a long, long time...
Until we meet again, darling Mum, goodnight.
Justin and Colin, Damian and Tricia, Colette and Alan and Carmel and David. And Colette's and Alan's three children Oliver, Elliot and Lucy and Carmel and David's boys Maxwell and Fergus xx
Lovely Ms Kristen Stewart. Fun chat for TIFF. Catch all the action at #EntCityTIFF #EntCityFIRST… instagram.com/p/7lch-lxiI6/
Can you see our flowers? Strictly on the QT... instagram.com/p/zbQytGRiI7/
Block framed art on a painted rough sawn lumber wall. With a little Ercol 'settled' below... instagram.com/p/zcVsP7RiLq/