Be ready for when the time will come.
The previous day Pádraig had had a bath (in a mobile bath tub) for the first time in a long time. Now Pádraig and I were about to go on an early morning air ambulance flight to Hamburg to what we thought would be a few months of rehab. The hospital physio had come in at around 5am to get him ready for the journey. There were nurses and carers on the corridor to wish him well.
The journey turned out to be the easy part of the coming two years.
On the 11th day of the 11th month eight years ago, we moved most of our life to Germany. Just before Christmas that year, when families prepared to be reunited, to be together for this most important of family time of the year, we left half of the family behind.
While our personal tragedy was acknowledged, the health system with access to limited resources had to ensure that these resources were aimed at those with a good chance of a meaningful recovery, we were told just a few weeks later in a Hamburg radio studio by Ireland’s most senior neurologist on our first late night RTÉ radio interview.
I was not ready for when they time came. Nobody was. Not for what happened to Pádraig on route 6A in Brewster. Not for the nightmares that followed, the injustice and ignorance; the incredible support by his friends.
Pádraig stood on his own feet for a while in An Saol last week, with a little help from his therapists. He texted one of his friends what he’d like as a Christmas present from him: breakfast in the Shelbourne, no less. On another day last week he directed Donal’s clarinet using his breath. He told us using Morse Code that what he has most been missing during COVID is his friends.
On Saturday, he went for a walk along the seafront and tried out some of the wheelchair accessible exercise equipment installed there by the Corporation.
Clontarf Baths and their restaurant are close by.
Pádraig said he would like a Mojito (sin alcohol). And after all this exercise some scallops with pork belly and black pudding. Pádraig hadn’t tried to drink with a straw for quite some time.
He also hadn’t had scallops with pork belly and black pudding. To my knowledge. Ever.
On Saturday, he finished that mojito. No problem whatsoever drinking with a straw. I thought it must have been what was in that glass that provided the motivation.
Those scallops, pork belly, and the pudding also disappeared in no time.
Last week was one of the best for RTÉ television programming in a long time.
Primetime Investigates documented some of the horrendous effects of the Ward of Court system based on the 1971 lunacy act; The Missing Children told the story of the Tuam Mother and Baby home, some of its survivors and asked who the 796 babies were whose bodies were found in a sewage tank on the site; and Father of the Cyborgs looked at the life and career of Limerick born Dr Phil Kennedy who made global headlines in the late 1990s for implanting electrodes into the brain of a locked-in patient and then teaching him how to control a computer cursor with his mind.
Here is a slight variation on the theme, a quote by Henry Clay:
The time will come when winter will ask you what you were doing all summer.
Life and Living. In a meaningful, caring, social way.
If we do that, we’ll be ready for when the time comes. And we have an answer to the winter’s question.