She hailed from a small town and had never seen mountains and oceans before. So her grandson took her on the trip of a lifetime.
Your Grandparents are always ready to spoil you with love and affection. From showering you with adoration to teaching you all the tricks that your parents never did to regaling you with stories of their days and your parents' childhood, they establish themselves as the people who you know will love you no matter what.
Not to mention, you can never let their age fool you. They might not be as agile as before but their brains and wit are just as active and it makes you want to spend time with them, creating special memories together. And that is what this grandmother-grandson duo did.
Brad Ryan and his 89-year-old grandmother Joy Ryan made a mission - to visit all 61 national parks in the United States. And of that goal, they have already visited 29 of them, according to Good Morning America.
Brad told the news outlet that the first-ever one they visited was the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2015. Since then, he and Joy have been to Badlands, Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, Zion, and Mammoth Cave, among others.
"I remembered a prior conversation with my Grandma Joy when we were discussing my 2009 Appalachian Trail hike from Georgia to Maine and she expressed regret that she had never seen the mountains and explored the great outdoors throughout her life, so I invited her to join me on my weekend escape to the Smokies," Brad said.
Joy Ryan had been living a humble life in Duncan Falls, Ohio, "a small two-traffic light town," said Brad to CBS News. She had been out of state before but hadn't actually seen much. He mentioned that every winter, his grandparents would take a trip from Ohio to Okatibbee Lake in Central Florida which meant that they'd always be going through the middle of America and missing the coasts.
"I don't know why they never went to the coast. I asked her this, but I never found out," Brad said.
But the ocean wasn't the only thing she had missed out on. Brad mentioned that she had never even seen mountains or "sand dunes, a cactus a major river or pueblo ruins." Until he made sure to give her that experience.
"She was 85 years old, sitting in this tiny house, widowed for 20 years. Two of her three sons died in their 40s. She worked a minimum wage job until she was in her early 80s to make ends meet," he said. "So, there was definitely no surplus of money for her to go and do these things."
And boy did they go on a trip. "I thought, 'You know what, I need something to fill my cup right now. I want my grandma to have this experience.' So, we took a very impromptu three-day trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. During that trip, that's when I started to realize how unconventional it is for somebody in their 30s, a grandson, to be traveling around with their grandmother. We definitely stood out like sore thumbs everywhere we went," he said.
Starting a GoFundMe account to help afford the trip, they were able to hit 29 out of their 61 national parks goal. "I felt a calling to ensure she was not forgotten and that she was given the opportunity to live the life of adventure she had never been able to fulfill," Brad said to Fox KTVU.
Well, we wish them well on their forward journey.