One of my favorite things about my papa was his ability to tell stories, no matter how true they were or weren't. As he always said, "never let the truth get in the way of a good story". His favorite thing to do was to tell stories- to anyone who was willing to listen. I remember one time specifically he was telling me a story about telling someone a story and said: "what can I say— I tell stories, it's what I do".
In the last few months, I've been listening carefully to what must've been at least a hundred stories from my papa. These stories ranged from him talking about growing up in the stockyards, to crazy detailed stories about being a Chicago cop, to adventures he had gone on with his friends and my grandma. Whatever the case, if papa was telling a story, everyone in the room was listening.
The way he was able to light up a room by telling people about his life and experiences was like nothing I'd ever seen before.
I was lucky enough to hear so many of these stories throughout my life and I wish I could've heard more. What I cherish most about this is these, among others, are the memories and stories about papa I'll be able to tell my kids and grandkids one day. Not only will I tell his stories, but I'll tell them stories about the memories I was able to make with him.
I'll tell them how papa convinced me I created the recipe for Linguini and Clams when I was 5 when I told him to cook the pasta and seafood together since he was going to put them together at the end anyway (hot tip: you can't do that).
I'll tell them about last Christmas when papa wanted me to fill in his eyebrows and see if anyone would notice- no one did... for HOURS.
I'll tell them about how much papa loved to dance, how much he loved to take us to the beach or on his boat when we were little, how much he loved his eighty-seven Hawaiian shirts hanging in his closet. Yes eighty-seven, we counted.
Most importantly; I'll tell them how my papa taught all of us to love so deeply.
If there's one thing we know how to do in my family, it's to love one another no matter what. He showed us with his actions, he expressed it by saying "I love you honey" any time you held his hand or gave him a hug. He demonstrated it with how he talked with such adoration for my grandma. In fact, he told me the story of when he kissed Nisey for the first time and said, "I'll never get enough of that".
My papa made it abundantly clear to each and every one of us that we were special and loved so greatly. Toward the end of his time, he was trying to put his love for us into words and here's what he came up with:
"The love people have for each other does not stop, it is eternal. If someone dies suddenly, their love does not stop. The energy of love is infinite, powerful, and could light up the world. It so much more powerful than hate- there is no contest."
I know our love for each other will never end and I will teach my children to love just as he did to his children and grandchildren.
I wish I could hear even just one more of his stories— but I cannot wait to tell his stories, as well as my own stories about the memories we've made with him.
I am a better person because of my papa and the world was a much better place with him in it.
In memory of Charly Ryan "Papa", 1938-2019.