Apr 30, 2010

Gerry Ryan, RIP


The last time I gasped aloud—as I just now gasped aloud—was the day I saw that my then pre-teen had googled "Girls having sex" on YouTube. My lungs loudly sucked in oxygen the way a burning building backdrafts right before it combusts. Gerry Ryan, a hugely popular Irish broadcaster, was found dead in his apartment in Dublin this morning. He was only 53.
Backdraft.
I'm gutted. I loved Gerry Ryan; his morning radio show was an institution in my youth. Funny, thinking about him now, I have an immediate and vivid memory of sweeping the floor in the back-kitchen (as we oddly called it, not that we had a "front kitchen" or anything) of our first house (yes, we did have a second house later on). The long narrow kitchen was flooded with golden sunlight (typical lighting in childhood memories) and the kitchen was filled with Gerry Ryan's booming, posh-Dublin voice. My mother was elbow-deep in suds over by the window, probably keeping one eye on what Sis Moloney was doing out her backyard, and we both stopped what we were doing to listen intently to Gerry. He was known for being funny and provocative, gregarious and silly, and a bit of a motormouth, but he could also have moments of great depth and seriousness, and when he did, it was heavy. Heavy like the airwaves could barely support the weight of his empathy and sadness. Probably the way the airwaves feel at home today.
I wish I could say "Isn't it shocking news about Gerry Ryan" to my neighbor fussing with her tulips up the street, to the guy who just delivered my Chinese food, or to my own kids all Brooklyn swagger out the back ... but I can't.
I have a pang for home.
I caught a little of Ryan's morning radio show when I was home in January and it felt as quintessentially "Home" as the warm turf fires and cold toilet bowls. I'm sorry he won't be there next time I go home.
RIP Gerry Ryan.

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