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Entry date: 1-30-2022 - The First Time I Met Ryan - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

Sunday mornings are a nice time in our house. It is quiet, I am typically up first, and right now, the weather here in Phoenix is perfect. I started my laundry and I am getting ready for what might just be an interesting day.

Yesterday was a really nice day, too. Rhondi and I took a walk and then we headed out to Gilbert to meet up with number one son, Ryan, and his fiancé, Bree. We ate at O.H.S.O. out there and enjoyed a nice brunch. It was very interesting to watch the people there, too. It is so weird anymore to be out in public.

After lunch we saw Ryan and Bree’s home for the first time. I must admit it was a very proud moment to see that my son is doing well with his life. He and Bree have a nice start in front of them and I genuinely look forward to their wedding in October. I think he is on the right path and Bree seems to love him very much. How can you ask for more?

We spoke briefly of the first time I ever saw Ryan and it is probably time to tell that story.


In 1994 I got a phone call out of the blue. It was from Shannon, Ryan’s mom, and she asked me about my blood type. I was pretty taken aback and didn’t really know how to respond except to say, “Why?” The conversation didn’t go very far and I didn’t hear back from her until about a year later.

This time around, we talked for a bit, and she explained that I was, most likely, father to her son. Shannon and I had a one-night stand in 1989 and had not used a condom. To be honest, it had been a bit of a dry spell for me, and I was pretty darn quick on the draw that night. My still 19-year-old brain was just shocked that we were even in that situation as I was not really a one-night-stand kind of guy.

We were not strangers. Shannon was friends with some of my friends and she had even dated my brother from another mother, Michael, for a while a few months before we hooked up. I was kind of stuck at a party in Tempe and Shannon offered me a ride home. The rest, as they say, is history.

During the phone call, Shannon and I learned that we were both going to ASU at the time, so we agreed to meet at Long Wongs for lunch that week to talk in person. I must admit I was very nervous. I was working with my buddy, Steve, at the time because he and Brian had bought Easy Street (another chapter or three to write about) from my mom and aunt that year. Steve and Shannon had also dated in high school and remained close friends, so I figured he could give me the scoop.

Long story short, Steve basically told me that I was Ryan’s dad. He had seen Ryan a lot and knew he looked a lot like me. This was helpful and I was more emotionally prepared to meet Shannon after talking to Steve even though my path to parenthood was not a typical one.

When Shannon and I met, she gave me a current picture of Ryan and it felt like a glorious punch to the gut. He looked just like me. I was instantly in love with this kid and scared and my brain was going a thousand miles an hour. All the plans I was working on for my life took an abrupt turn, for sure.

Shannon was very clear to me that she was not looking for someone to jump in and be a dad unless that was absolutely what I wanted to be. She was very clear that she had embraced being a single mom and Ryan just wanted to know who his father was. I told her that there was no way I could live with myself knowing that I had a son out there and not be part of his life, so we decided that we would get to know each other better, get the DNA test done to be sure, and I would get to meet Ryan.

She also gave me the picture.

It was the picture that set off a long list of events, for sure. My mom cried. I called my grandparents in Colorado Springs, and they were thrilled. The conversation with my dad and stepmom was memorable as well because they disclosed to me while I was going to have a baby brother. Sure, it was kind of awkward to say, “That’s awesome, congratulations, and by the way, you’re grandparents now, too.”

We got the DNA test done the next week and sure enough, I was officially a dad. We arranged for me to come out to a house Shannon was housesitting at and I would meet Ryan on some neutral territory. I was so nervous, excited, and overwhelmed. When I walked in he was standing by a pool table and the first thing I noticed was he had my exact posture, especially when I was feeling a bit nervous or uncomfortable about a situation.

At that moment I became convinced of the power of nature.

We talked and played a bit and he hugged me, and I melted. Being a dad became ultra-real that day and it started one of the craziest times of my life. As I look back on it now, it was not dissimilar from being a stepparent and, in many ways, the beginning of Ryan and my relationship was rocky and full of missteps on my part as to how to be a part of his life.

He was five when I met him and had the world figured out, I think, even then, but he was and is my son and I love him.

See you tomorrow.

Ryan and Liam when Ryan got done with boot camp in 2007.

No playlist today - Spotify acting weird.

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