This year’s Oktoberfest has been cancelled (the picture below is from 2019).
The big beer garden in Munich will remain empty this year.

But we can create our own Beer Gardens, our own Oktoberfest,
having a beer in our own gardens.

Doing this in April is called “Vor-Feiern”, a great German concept, only matched by “Nach-Feiern” – basically allowing you to have your Oktoberfest any time you feel like it.

But what about the great company that makes an Oktoberfest (big or small) so much fun?

Having a cold beer in the back garden on a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon chatting to his friends on Zoom is now one of the highlights of Pádraig’s week. The truth is that he is not (yet) chatting using words, but listening and ‘chatting’ by showing his reactions to the stories, news and opinions shared by his friends, answering the occasional direct questions using his different ways to communicate.

(Remember Dr. Mehrabian’s study showing that 55% of communication is visual, 38% tone of voice, and only 7% spoken words?)

To be honest, I am not 100% sure of what exactly is going on during those video calls, because I am not there when they happen. Which is brilliant. One of his sisters helps him with the set up and participates with him. It’s one of the few things, where we (the parents) have no role to play in his life.

An hour of Independence Day for Pádraig.

A bit like pre-accident time, when he would not have been very happy had I shown my face while he was meeting, chatting or partying with his friends. (Because they were his friends and I was his father – two different circles:).

Last week, one of our neighbours and father of children who had gone to school with ours, died of COVID-19, having spent some time in hospital. We attended the funeral online and when the mass was over, one of us went out to the house to pay our respects to the family, to see the hearse passing by. There were hundreds of people lining the street, all 2 metres apart from each other. There was music and song to celebrate his life, all out on the street. It was so very very moving. The huge attendance and support shown by everybody, the family, the friends, the neighbour, even our the local postman, could not have been more uplifting and powerful.

“Grief in the time of Covid-19”: Louise Byrne attended the funeral of a much older man, 92 year-old PJ Grealish from Tuam, Co Galway, and reported on it on Morning Ireland last Friday, 24 April 2020, interviewing people who had a similar experience with a funeral as ours in these very different times. During the course of her report she interviewed Tuam undertaker Joe Grogan, who is the father of Sane, who suffered a severe brain injury some years ago and who we have been in touch with for many years now.

Two families who are also attending the An Saol Day Rehabilitation Centre with their son who suffered a severe brain injury, were on RTÉ Radio One this week.

Louise Byrne reported on the impact of Covid-19 on younger people with disabilities in nursing homes. Morning Ireland, Tuesday, 21 April 2020.

During that report she talked to Robert’s parents, Helen and Brendan. What they said has been on my mind all week. According to Louise, they had not seen Robert in six weeks and had told her that they wanted to have Robert home more often but that the possibility of getting a care package that would allow them to do this was akin to winning the lottery. Helen said, that it is usually at 1am in the morning that the demons set in with her. “Suddenly it just hits you and you say to yourself: will I see him again, will he see me again?” Brendan described the situation as “difficult”, saying it was hard to find the right words.

(In November of 2019, Adam Higgins wrote that the Ombudsman launched a probe into the HSE over allegations that young people were forced to live in nursing homes. Estimates vary, but there are probably 1,400 young people living in nursing homes today.)

Even if you don’t speak German (nobody is perfect:), it’s worth watching Klaus Lage singing: Tausend und eine Nacht – und es hat ZOOM gemacht!

“Alles war so vertraut und nun ist alles neu” – All was so familiar and now all is new.

It’s sooo old. Sooo German. And the first time I heard that word.