When I see Pádraig getting better, when I see him drinking a little, eating pureed fruit, standing up almost straight in his ‘stand-up’ bed, I find hard to believe what I’m seeing. There is non-stop progress. The way he keeps trying so hard.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 22.44.22Psychologists say that you have to push your boundaries. You have to leave your comfort zones and venture into the unknown. Not only does that give you an interesting and colourful life, even when you’re getting older, they say it also prepares you for that time in your life when stuff happens that realistically you cannot prepare for.

You know you’re getting old when you talk about concepts that younger people do not understand anymore. Like when Pat and I were talking some years ago about our memories of getting a colour TV, and Patrick asked us what colour it was?

You know you’re getting old when young people talk about concepts that you find hard to relate to. Like going into ‘clubs’ and not into ‘discos’. When you see them sitting around a table not talking to each other but posting news onto each others’ Facebook pages.

When you know you’re getting old, pushing your boundaries is especially important because when you’re young, you’re doing it almost by definition.

Nobody was prepared for Pádraig’s accident. But it is because people are pushing their boundaries that we all just about manage to cope. His sisters are doing exams, studying and working hard, with us not being around a lot of the time to help them, even with small things. That they manage is pushing boundaries big time.

The wider family and his friends, and the families of his friends, are doing things they never thought they’d be doing pushing their boundaries: they visit Pádraig in Hamburg, they organise events, they swim, run, and jog, they share their knowledge, expertise, and experience; they take time out to help with big and small things; they are showing a generosity that restores my breath that had almost been taken away by the lack of care and, at times, astonishing ignorance by the ‘system’ and its representatives.

How could we manage to get them to push their boundaries?