Aunt Jodi

I want to share “my Ryan” with you. Every person is perceived a little differently by everyone who knows them. I have had the honor of watching Ryan grow from an adorable yet mischievous child to a very motivated, mature husband and father.

He was born the second child and spent his early years trying to compete with his older brother Jason. As a typical 2nd born he was a very easy going child and would try to make the best of every situation. This personality trait has continued into adulthood and is the foundation of his personality. Ryan attacks every aspect of his life with the attitude that he will give 110% to any project. There are so many examples of this personality trait and I would like to share a few examples.

Ryan wanted to become a pilot and once he set his mind to this he excelled as a student of aviation at Western Michigan University. He became a flight instructor for the University as part of the path to his career as a pilot for American Eagle. He was able to fly commercially until his diagnosis in 2009 which was a dream come true for him.

Ryan and Andrea dated for years before deciding to make it official.  When it was time to pop the question nothing “ordinary” would do for him. Our family took yearly trips together and Ryan frequently joined us. This particular year we went to Hawaii and both Ryan and Andrea joined our children and Jim and I for this amazing adventure. He planned for months, smuggled the ring, and planned a private horse back riding excursion to the waterfalls. He even had his guide ready with the camera when he pulled out the picnic lunch he prepared and set up at the bottom of the waterfall. He was on his knee before she even realized what was happening, how could anyone say no to that!

Being a husband and father is the most important role in his life. He makes it a point to go to every prenatal visit and every pediatrician appointment. Ryan’s childhood was disrupted by divorce and he knows first hand the effects this has on a family. Everyday he makes Andrea know how important she is in his life and consciously works at developing consistency in the daily routine of being a family. He is in awe of this little man God has blessed them with and can’t wait to meet his new son.

When the FAA decided he could no longer fly, this nearly broke his heart. In his mind there was no sense in sitting around feeling sorry for himself. After being diagnosed with cancer, having part of his lung removed and having the career he committed his life to torn out from under him refused to quit. He decided he needed a new career and started taking classes to prepare for applying to medical school. He finished at the top of every class he took while still being there for his wife and son and working as an agent for the airline.

This recurrence of the cancer is another obstacle to be conquered. This type of cancer is rare and so the research and statistics are limited.  Ryan is aware of this but he has shown his fighting spirit before and I know he will fight again for his family.

I love Ryan with all my heart and am amazed on a daily basis by his strength and zest for life.

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