From the Author:

This book is created from fragments that belong to events in the early life of my family. Fragments from my father's life and my grandfather Edward Ryan from Ireland are based on what I heard in my childhood and what my uncles and aunts told me about events that happened in the past. This story is centered in part on my father's early life and the life of his father. The remainder of the writing tries to bring light to certain events in my life and what happened between my father and me, and to see if these events illuminate why my son died at thirty-one. That is what the book is about.

The selected episodes of my grandfather's life, coming from Ireland, and living in Ohio and the substance of my father's young life were told to me when I was a boy. I've remembered these stories. I feel there is little doubt that they are selected memories. These events are unimportant in themselves; it's what the outer actions reveal of the inner life of all four of these men that matters.

When I heard these stories they had little effect on me. My father was the only person in my young life who didn't relate them as stories, but would just drop them as "by the ways" at different times, when the two of us would be working in the back yard, or on a drive through the country in summer.

This story is to help put these men to rest. They did what they had to do. They were good men on the whole. These men, my grandfather, my father and myself, never knew the hurt and misery we had afflicted. What was done out of necessity is not always the smart or right movement for a life to take. This is the way we were. I need to find out what were the actions taken or not taken by my grandfather and father, seemingly unrelated, with the chasm of years between, that had a bearing on my life and how all three of these men affected the life of my son. In writing this I can only speak with candor of my life and have no intention of following any guide but my own intelligence when relating the selected events in the life of grandfather and father. Tim s last day is all my own invention.

"All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players."   -  from As You Like It - WIlliam Shakespeare

The following pages represent the stories of these four men. . .

Breakdown of the book:

This is a fictionalized story of four fathers and four sons beginning in 1864 and ending in 1993. These men were bound together across the years by addiction and disappointment. One broke free only to lose his son to the same pattern of abuse. I have borrowed from stories I heard of my own grandfather, those of my father and from my own.

These "historical" chapters are interspersed with Tim's last 24 hours in Hawaii, hour by hour told in first person.

The story begins in 1993 with Mitchell Ryan getting a phone call from the police telling him his son has had a motorbike accident and is in critical condition.

In 1864 Edward Ryan, a boy of seventeen leaves the rocky coast of Ireland and his impoverished family to sail to America with the promise of land in exchange for military service.

Click to continue to the breakdown of The Fall of A Sparrow