A tribute to mothers, who taught me the importance of showing up

A columnist offers thanks to the special women in his life

William Ryan avatar

by William Ryan |

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One of my favorite things about my mom is that she has really good taste in entertainment.

I know it might sound shallow, but really, I love it. Growing up as an only child with cystic fibrosis (CF), I sat around watching a lot of television and movies. Because of her, I developed a love for “Seinfeld,” “Saturday Night Live,” and countless movies that would air on TNT and HBO back in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

My favorite thing about my mom is that she’s always been there when I needed her. She was at every baseball and basketball game of mine and even watched me graduate from college, which I’m sure was just a pipe dream for her when I was diagnosed at 3 months old in January 1993.

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Until I was about 2 years old, I was constantly in and out of the hospital for just about every CF issue under the sun, from low lung function to an inability to digest food and stay hydrated. My mom would go to the hospital with me (my dad, too, but I’ll tell you about him in an upcoming column). As dependable as the sun rising, she’d go to work the next day in downtown Manhattan.

If I had a doctor’s appointment and she couldn’t get off work for a full day, she’d leave early and take the subway 15 minutes to the West Village to encourage me during my pulmonary function tests.

She’s always been there. I love her for that.

Although we butt heads sometimes because we’re very similar, I couldn’t ask for a better and more caring mother. When I was in the hospital last year, she slept on a recliner there because she didn’t want me to feel alone after I nearly died from an allergic reaction to an antibiotic.

One of my favorite movies that showed on TNT in those early years was “Hardball.” It starred Keanu Reeves, who played a down-on-his-luck baseball coach for a team of African American kids. Reeves’ character tells his players that “one of the most important things in life is showing up.”

Anne Ryan always showed up. Love you, Mom.

Mothers of a different kind

As the famous proverb notes, “it takes a village to raise a child.” I’ve been lucky to have a lot of aunts in my life due to having a large extended family. Every year, they’d help my parents raise money for CF. They’d do whatever it took to make the annual Great Strides walkathon successful to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Every May, my family would rally around me and help try to find a cure for CF.

My Nana (as I called my maternal grandmother) was no different. In her, my mom had a great teacher. She opened her home to my parents and me for a few weeks when I got out of the hospital three months after I was born, because it was easier to travel from her home in Jersey City than from ours in Manhattan.

In my adulthood, two other women have been prominent.

My mother-in-law has been a fantastic addition to my life, as she teaches me patience and gratitude for the little things. She beat lung cancer and came out with a deeper appreciation of the gift that is everyday life.

My wife — a dog mom, so she counts as a mother in my life, right? — taught me what it’s like to love an animal (or in this case, two). I never had pets growing up, except a fish I purchased from a friend that lived for only a month. Every day, I see how my wife cares for and loves our dogs. We don’t have human children, but I have the same love for our dogs that my mom showed me when I was growing up. (I’m working on getting my dogs to love “Seinfeld,” but that’s proving to be difficult.)

So to the many moms in our lives, thank you for all that you do. Thank you for all of the care you give us. Thank you for always being there.

Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.


Helen Palmiero avatar

Helen Palmiero

What a wonderful homage to all the Mothers in your life! It was certainly quite a tearjerker. Your mother is an absolute treasure and your aunts are such a wonderful support unit who I'm sure would do anything they could to help you in any way. I know Gina and I would do anything in our power to help you in your fight against CF. Your article once again taught me something - a new form of love for dogs and other animals. Domesticated pets love you unconditionally and expect nothing from you except kindness and basic necessities. Will, I appreciate how you regard us Mothers. Please keep teaching me about myself, lol. I truly look forward to the lessons. Keep pushing forward against CF and we'll all be right at your side. Tons of love, your favorite Mother-In-Law.


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