Sunday, October 24, 2010

Patricia "Nana" Bryan

BRYAN Patricia Ann (Betts) Bryan, 74, passed from this life September 19, 2010 at Mount Carmel East Hospital with her family by her side. Born April 20, 1936 in Columbus, Ohio to the late Harry and Alice Betts, she was preceded in death by her parents, son Robin Sisk, and great-grandson Caleb Ballou. A stunning woman inside and out, Patricia was known for her piercing blue eyes, long legs and even longer hair, which earned her the nickname "Cher". She was an avid animal lover, who spent many years working with the Columbus Zoo and the Franklin County Mounted Unit. She had an adventurous spirit, demonstrated by her claim to fame as the first woman skydiver in the state. Pat had a true zest for life that is so rare to find. Deputy Bryan retired from the Franklin County Sheriff's Department in 1997 and was very proud of her time spent working in the jail. She loved to travel, especially when those travels took her near the beach, and she vowed one day to be a beach bum on Siesta Key. Quietly brilliant, she was a passionate reader who could have beat Alex Trebeck at Jeopardy and took a great deal of pride in beating her family in a game of Trivial Pursuit or canasta. She was hands down the world's greatest cook and could make cube steak taste like filet mignon. Pat was a music lover, with a special adoration for Italian operas and mariachi music. A truly remarkable woman, she found joy in the simple things and had an honest "don't sweat the small stuff" attitude. More than anything, she loved being surrounded by her "big, loud, obnoxious family" and it will be through each of them that her strong and loving spirit lives on. She had moxie, baby. She is survived by her sister, Jacqueline (Robert) Kowalski of Des Moines, IA; brother, William (Micki) Betts of Syracuse, NY; sons, Daniel Sisk of Reynoldsburg, Michael (Bonnie Ramsey) Sisk of Pataskala, Joseph Bryan of Buckeye Lake, William Bryan of Reynoldsburg, and John Sisk of Orange County, CA; daughters, Deborah Sisk-Buffalo of Harper, KS, Vanya Bryan of Reynoldsburg, and Laurie (Jeff) Gang of Jamesburg, NJ. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Roxanne (Fred) Finke of Wichita, KS, Lisa Williams of Wichita, KS, Jennifer Sisk of Columbus and Rachael Sisk of Houston, TX, Dillan Bryan of Columbus and Morrgan Bryan of Buckeye Lake, Summer (Brandon) Ballou of Reynoldsburg, Alysia and Asia Barham, both of Reynoldsburg, Wednesday Bryan of Reynoldsburg, and Kylie and Tyler Gang of Jamesburg, NJ; seven great-grandchildren; numerous nieces, nephews, friends, and beloved dogs, Mutley, Chyna, Rusty and Coco. Family will receive friends Wednesday 5-8 p.m. at COTNER FUNERAL HOME, 7369 E. Main St., Reynoldsburg, where the funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday. Burial will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery. Messages may be sent to family at

As I have mentioned before, my grandma a.k.a. Nana is like my mother. She was there when I was born, she named me, raised me, and got to deal with all the joys and pains (mostly pains) of doing so. She was more than just a grandmother or mother to me, though. She was my best friend. We were sidekicks. I know when most people think "grandma" the thought of a feeble, elderly woman who knits and has that obligatory "old people" smell. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nana was adventurous until the day she died. She didn't knit and she smelled like fancy perfumes or cheap shampoo.
Growing up with Nana made me different than most kids. She exposed me to things and people that I may never have seen. She worked in the county jail and used to take me there for visits and "Take Your Daughter to Work Day". While she didn't condone criminal behavior, she didn't look down on the inmates. She knew people were imperfect and they made mistakes. It was from her that I learned to be empathetic.
Before me, Nana had 8 children and was married twice. Between her marriages and after my grandfather was killed, she was a single mother. My aunts and uncles caused my grandma a lot of grief, but she never stopped loving them. Or me when it was my turn around. You don't give up on family. That was always her message. They're crazy and they get on your nerves and some days you REALLY don't like them, but we stick together and we love each other.
She was so strong and out of all of her qualities, this is the one I admire most. As a girl who tends to wear her heart on her sleeve, my grandma with her cool and calm demeanor, was always an inspiration to me. I remember the day we found out my uncle died. Everyone was at our house crying and in shock. When I went to find my grandma, she was doing laundry. Twenty minutes after hearing her son had taken his own life, she was cleaning house and keeping everyone else calm. I can count on one hand the times I had seen her cry. She was amazing like that.
She passed away so quickly. They diagnosed the cancer on a Thursday and by Sunday she was gone. I had so much left to say to her and so much I still wanted to do.
Growing up I would have anxiety attacks about what it would be like when my grandma died. My chest would tighten, my eyes would well up with tears, my breath would become fast and hard, my stomach would drop, and my head would start to ache. When I lived at home, I would crawl into bed with her until I felt better. When I moved out, I would call her and she would talk me down. She promised she wasn't going any where and we would talk about plans for the future. Now when I have one of those attacks, there is no one to call. No one to make it all better. Just the sad reality that for the rest of my life my best friend, mother, and grandmother is gone and nothing will ever be the same.


No one is promised a perfect life. Imagine how shallow we would all be if that were the case. Pain and suffering build our character and, in turn, make us each a unique individual.

I've had my fair share of pain and suffering in my life. Some self-imposed, some a side-effect of other's actions, and still some that just seemed to come from nowhere.

Losing Caleb was hard. I wanted him so desperately and knew that after he was gone there was a very real chance I would never get to be a mother again. A life that I had spent months mapping out was gone. That's a hard thing for people to understand about pregnancy/infant loss. It's not about losing what was, it's about losing what could have been. Even with the pain that came from losing Caleb, I was able to really focus on the blessings that came from his short life and have a sense of peace about everything. Even though this pain and suffering came from nowhere, meaning I didn't cause it and neither did anyone else, I could still breath easy in knowing that things happened exactly as they should have happened.

In the last 59 days, my life has been thrown into a tailspin. Everything I thought was true, I found isn't. And everyone I thought I could trust just disappeared. My life has changed forever. And while someone so important to me was slowly drifting away, I was caught up in juvenile drama that I thought was left behind when I said "I do". I will never forgive myself for that.

Some days I wish he would have fallen in love, too. But then again, no one is promised an easy life.