J.J. with his parents James and Michelle and sisters Lucy and Ciara
The following is a loving tribute by James Ryan to his son JJ who passed away on August 3. On behalf of the Ryan family who live in Mondard James also thanks all those who were involved in helping to care for his son.
J.J. (James John) was 11-years old when he suddenly passed away.
"I went into J.J. at 5.30am to turn him in his bed,we shared a joke and J.J. was laughing.
When I returned at 8.30am to get him up, J.J. had passed away.
I was lovingly told that J.J. woke me up at 5.30am to smile at me and say goodbye"
My son JJ was born at 25 weeks and weighed just 1.04kg. JJ was one of twins and his sister Lucy was only 920 grams. While Lucy progressed fairly well, JJ met with many challenges. He was paraplegic cerebral palsy, he had chronic lung disease, a hole in his heart and he had to have ROP surgery to his eyes to prevent him from going blind. After 3-weeks he developed a bleed to his brain but he bravely fought through all these challenges and he was never without a smile.
JJ later developed a problem with his intake of liquids so he had a peg tube inserted to help him with his intake of liquids. He was also born profoundly deaf and had a cochlear implant inserted.
The Jack & Jill Foundation were the first organisation involved in JJ’s life with us and the word ‘thanks’ to them would be too small for us to say. They were excellent. Shirley Coen used to do six hours a week with JJ and she was fantastic. The Jack & Jill Foundation stayed with us until he was four-years old and after a 3-year battle with the H.S.E. we got 6 care hours a week. Carers Monika McCarthy and Theresa O’Hora followed and they were also amazing. JJ never forgot them and he always had a smile for them because he remembered the love and care they had for him.
JJ's first school was Tus Maith and we and JJ had many happy memories of his time there. With the amount of care that JJ needed you couldn’t ask for a better starting place.
JJ went to Respite in St. Rita’s Respite Care in Clonmel. While we missed him we knew he was in the best of care. The Laura Lynn Foundation in Dublin was excellent to us and gave us respite at least twice a year. The Bumbulance would help us bring JJ’s stuff to Dublin and one of his sister’s would travel with us and watch a film with JJwhilst travelling. Thank you to the Bumbulance Service.
At the age of 7, JJwent to Scoil Aonghusa in Cashel. We were blessed with such a school. JJ went to school with a smile on his face knowing he was going to have a good day and came back home with another smile knowing he had a great day.
Siobhán Keyes Ryan and her team are dedicated to their profession. The social skills and the interactivities that were taught there were fantastic.
JJ was picked for the Special Olympics in 2018 with eleven other pupils in Scoil Aonghusa to represent Munster. At 10-years of age he was Munster’s youngest representative. The school brought 12 pupils to Monard N.S. before the Olympics to show the pupils how children with special needs aren’t any different to any other child and also to show them how they are capable of doing things themselves. The Monard school children loved it and JJ’s sisters, Lucy and Ciara, who attend the school were so proud of their brother.
JJ won 2 gold medals in the MATP section. We were and are still so proud! Scoil Aonghusa’s Amy O’Driscoll was his coach and we are forever in her debt.
JJ had two excellent sisters in Lucy and Ciara. They loved him so much. Any time they were asked to do a job for JJ or help us change him there was never any moaning only straight to help. They loved pushing him around Dunnes or the Crescent Shopping centre – his favourite places to go.
If we had somewhere nice planned to go and JJ got sick either the night before or on the morning and we had to cancel, the girls would never be upset of give out because they understood the needs of a child like JJ. Our dog Izzy loved him also. In the morning I would tell her to go and watch out for JJ’s bus and she would wait on the couch looking out the window and bark like crazy on its arrival. At 3pm, Izzy would sit and wait for JJ’s return and when he would come in she would lick his hand to greet him. Often when we were out for a walk she would sit on his lap and JJ would enjoy that.
I would like to thank Sisters Kathleen, Mags and Bernie who minded JJ on the bus over the length of time he went to Scoil Aonguhusa. Thank you also to Redicans and Browne’s bus who carried JJ to and from school with the best of care.
JJpassed away suddenly on the August 3, this year. We are heartbroken and our lives have changed drastically. The loss of him and his presence around the house is unbearable. We miss him every second, every minute, every hour of every day. We are so grateful to all the great people that were involved in JJ's life and in our lives: from his Pediatrician, the Neo-Natal unit in Limerick, the Regional Hospital, his Health Care Nurse and his Home-Help… thank you very much. We would also like to say thank you to Canon McNamaara who called to the house every first Friday to give JJ Holy Communion. We are very grateful for the kindness and time he gave us.We wish to also thank J.J.'s grandmother Mary (MO) for the excellent help and care she gave to J.J. and Lucy after they were born... we will always very grateful and also to the rest of our family for their love for J.J.
JJ was a gift sent to us from Heaven. JJ’s smiles to us were our kisses from him. The loss of a child is very painful but the loss of a child with cares and needs like JJ is all the more painful because with the amount of love they offer, it makes their loss even greater.
It would make my wife Michelle and I upset when someone would say to us, “Haven’t ye a cross to bare or isn’t he a burden?”
JJ was neither. He was a gift and he gave us an abundance of pleasure and hopefully made better people of us. JJ brought light and happiness to our lives. A lady once said to me when I was leaving Mass that I was very good with JJ. I said, it’s easy to be good when you are sent an angel to look after.
Again to everyone involved in JJ’s life and all our great neighbours who helped us during our hour of need… thanks so much.