Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ryley Thomas Toast

Today, one of my favourite people in the world turns 18 years old.

My cousin Ryley has always marched to the beat of his own drum - something admirable for a boy growing up in a small town in Southern Ontario.

When he was born, and in the few years following, Ryley's nickname was "The Little Prince." He was fawned over by members of our family in a way that rivalled any royal heir. It was as if everyone knew there was something special about him, right from the beginning.

When he was about four years old, when little boys were asking for Tonka trucks and legos for Christmas, he sat on Santa's lap and asked for a briefcase. That's all he wanted. His dream then was to become a businessman.

He came up North to visit, and my Dad was so excited. Finally, a little boy to play around with, get dirty with, show the ropes of Northern Ontario to. My Dad took Ryley to his farm, sat him on his lap in the loader and told him to have at it. 

"I don't like this," Ryley said, his little face worried. "Can we go see your office instead?"

I've heard my Dad tell this story several times. Whenever he tells it, I can hear the pride in his voice. Ryley was forever endeared to "Uncle Biller."

Whenever Ryley takes an interest in something, whether it is becoming student body President (which he did,) or getting top marks in school (which he always does,) he goes all in.

Several years ago, he decided he'd like to become a pilot. He started saving his money for flying lessons. Then, seeing how responsible and determined he was, the owner of the Flight School hired him to work at the airport. He manages it when the owner's not around. MANAGES IT. No big deal. 

Although he's gotten older (and more mature, if that's possible,) his soul has stayed the same. He doesn't hate hugs (in fact, he loves them.) He doesn't hesitate to tell people he loves them (he says it all the time.) He doesn't act too cool to hang out with his parents, his older cousins, his younger sister (he embraces it. He gets as excited when we visit now as he did when he was six years old.) 

The past couple of summers, he's stayed up North with my Dad for a couple of weeks. I can tell my Dad loves spending time with him as much as any of his "adult" friends. When Ryley was younger, he and my dad would go for walks together. 

"He recited every article from today's newspaper, almost word for word," Dad would say, amazed. "He's quite the little guy."

He is warm, loving, sensitive, smart, responsible (I can hear your eyes rolling from here, Kels!) He doesn't care what anyone thinks of him, doesn't worry about being "cool," doesn't put on any airs. He's totally comfortable with himself. We could all take a page from Ryley's book.

He is now officially a pilot, flying my sister and grandfather up North for a visit this summer (one of my summer highlights and ultimate proud moment.)

Although he turns 18 today, officially an adult, those who know him know he's been an adult since he was two years old.

Happy Birthday, buddy.

2012 in photos

My 2012 was one for the books. The happy times far outweighed the sad and BONUS, the world didn't end as thousands hundreds a few crazy people thought it would.

I'm grateful for everything 2012 brought to my life and so looking forward to all of the amazing things in store in 2013. I have a feeling it'll be one of the best years yet.

Here's a taste my 2012. 

Happy New Year.

Soundtrack is "Wild" by Royal Teeth.

(Make sure to watch in full screen - the smaller versions kind of wonky.)