Ryan Rizzio loves to use his father Jan as a measuring stick for himself in life, even if he knows it’s a fool’s errand to set the bar so high. Ryan aims to emulate his dad’s ability to care for others and his willingness to bend over backwards for his family without as much as a second thought.
From childhood to now, Ryan always knew he could count on Jan no matter what, and he wasn’t the only one. Ryan tries to take that dedication and apply it now as a husband and father himself, and he knows if he’s even a fraction as successful, he’s doing something right.
“As sappy as it sounds, I do measure myself against him,” Ryan said. “In a lot of respects, I’m very lucky to have him. In other respects, it’s an impossible standard to live up to. I always feel like I’m half a step back as a dad myself. I put him on that pedestal.”
Jan knows a thing or two about Ryan, his wife Ashley, and their children Addison (12) and Bryce (6), and he would surely disagree with that sentiment.
Jan is around the family often whether as a babysitter, a project helper, or even just a friend. He is as involved now as a grandfather as he has always been as a husband and father, and that’s been the real gift. So much of how he views his role in his own family comes from his dad’s influence.
Part of Jan’s gift for positive thinking is his ability to keep hard times in perspective. To be around him is to know that everything is going to work out.
“He’s always focused on the bigger picture and doesn’t get sucked into negativity,” Ryan said. “I’m sure thoughts go through his head, but he’s really good at not vocalizing it. He keeps himself and those around him thinking positive thoughts.”
A retired accountant, being there for his family is what Jan has always done. It’s always been that way, dating back to when Ryan and his older sister Becky were young and their dad’s commitment was ironclad. He did everything with them, showed up to all their events and was otherwise a constant presence in their lives just as their mother Candy was.
The same goes now for them as adults and for Ryan as a parent. His kids are now beneficiaries of Jan’s eagerness to connect with them and play a similar role for them. He and wife Candy adore being grandparents more than anything and still lend a helping hand with everyday tasks such as pickups and babysitting.
“Even to this day, he’s running around our house playing Legos and rolling around on the floor with Bryce,” Ryan said. “He’s totally involved. He keeps them safe and gives them boundaries, but Grandpa doesn’t always have the heart to say, ‘Be quiet and go to sleep.’
“He loves it, he and my mom both. They love having kids around. They do so much for all my cousins’ kids in terms of watching them and with their activities. It’s a really important thing to them to support the young kids in the family. They’re phenomenal grandparents.”
Multiple generations of the Rizzio family now reap the benefits of Jan’s love and attention, not to mention the positivity he exudes in even the most difficult situations (like when the Vikings lose).
Whether he views himself as someone who has influenced his family in this way or not, the reality is, Jan’s example has had a very tangible effect on the generations that have come after him.
For his 70th birthday, he deserves to hear how much they admire and appreciate him for that.
“I check myself often to ensure I’m looking at the bigger picture and brighter side to take from his positivity,” Ryan said. “Everybody loves him. He sets the right example. He’s all about his family, the people around him and having a good time.
“He’s the best.”
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