In order to fully understand my family’s, especially Kyle’s background and the situation behind the blog entries, I must take a moment to explain Ryan’s story.
Ryan Edward Piper was born on September 24, 1977. Ryan died on October 23, 2001, just after turning 24 years old.
There is so many things I would like to say about Ryan, but again I’ll start with some of the basics. Ryan had many interests including, hunting, fishing, and archery. He worked on car engines on the weekends and was a machinist by trade, also being certified in welding.
Ever since Ryan could walk, he joined my dad in the woods, either for scouting deer, hunting or both. Even before he was allowed to shoot a deer, he loved the sport. Like my dad, Ryan was a true hunter. He loaded his own shells, tracked, and skinned and butchered his own deer. Ryan also loved to fish. He would go by himself or with family and friends. Again, he would gut and scale his own fish, he knew how to make his own bait. Everything hunted or caught was eaten, no waste in our household. Ryan wasn’t much of a cook, nor did he have an interest in cooking. He relied heavily on my mom to fill his forever empty pit of a stomach. One time I remember coming home from high school and Ryan and I were sitting in the living-room watching TV. No exaggeration, he took a bunch of bananas, about 6 or 7 large ones and began to ingest them- practically whole. As soon as they were peeled, they were gone! Ironically, Ryan was a 6 foot tall beanpole. Just to give an idea, his jean size was 29 x 34. He noticed I was staring at him and he asked me “What?”. I said, “I would really like a banana but I’m afraid of loosing my hand.” He laughed and his only response was, “I’m hungry”. Evidently!
Ryan loved cars. He owned a red ’67 Chevy Chevelle that he would drag race at a local track. He loved that car and loved racing. He would work on car engines in my parents garage on the weekends for extra money for just for fun. He always maintained my cars, either giving them an oil change, rotating my tires, putting brakes on, cutting the rotors, or adding windshield wiper fluid. We had a great little system, he would tell me when he was going to work on my car and he would call the auto parts store to reserve the items needed. I would pay and pick them up and bring them back to the house. Ryan never took a penny from me, I would offer and he would ignore me. So in exchange when he needed to borrow my car, since it was newer than any of his piece of crap cars, I would let him. Also, since his jeans were so hard to find, I would buy him jeans and sometimes T-shirts when I found them. We had a great thing going that I took for granted until it was no longer an option. I cried the first time I had to take my car to get an oil change. It was a sign of the change that was upon me and my family and how much I really needed my brother. Just before Ryan passed away, he took Kyle to the race track. How he loved cars!
Most people don’t know that he built a truck from nothing with my dad. They worked on that truck together and we still have it, even though I don’t remember the last time it was even started. Ryan was really good at building things, I guess that’s were Kyle gets it from. During high school, Ryan bought this run down old truck. He decided to get it running, but in his own fun way. I guess he was humoring himself. He made the exhaust like a tri-axle truck. He completely rewired the inside of the truck so what you thought you were turning on, was not really it, it was something else. Only he really knew how to drive the truck. Pretty funny and ingenious if you ask me.
After high school Ryan went to get his journeymen papers in machinery, taking after my grandpap Chester (mom’s dad). From what I was told Ryan was pretty good. At least there for a while, a couple of local machine shops were fighting over him. He would be recruited to go to one, then the other would offer him more money and he would go to another and so forth.
Ryan was always hard worker, and I mean physical labor. He has a job were he would cut grass and trim. Years later my mom said she ran into his old boss. He said that Ryan would have put him out of business if he started his own lawn service. He said that Ryan was not only a hard worker, but he also had business sense. What a complement! And you know, he was right. Ryan was not lazy in the slightest and he had an eye for business, except he was too nice. He could never lay down the law and if someone needed money, he was the first to give it out. Even if he didn’t have any.
Unfortunately, Ryan’s life was cut short, at least from my perspective. I guess God had other plans. One night he was coming home to my parents house to pick up Kyle, since mom was watching him. He never made it. He was working the midnight shift and he went to Sheetz for a sandwich or some sort of food. About a mile from my parents house at 3am he ran into the corner of a house. As far as we are aware, there is no explanation. There were skid marks so I don’t think he fell asleep and no one saw anything and thank God no one else was involved. The driver side door hit the corner of the house perfectly. There was no way for him to survive. I saw the car that day at the junkyard. I cleaned out Ryan’s things, pushing aside pieces of his head to retrieve what I could of my brother.
That was the biggest tragedy I have ever gone through. Maybe that’s why things seem so trivial to me now. I’ve been and continue to be in pain and suffer great loss, daily. But I will say, Ryan was a success in his life and I miss him terribly! Between my family, Ryan’s friends, and myself, we try to keep him alive, for Kyle and for ourselves.