ColumnistsDaragh Keany

A tiny gesture can be a big deal

Daragh KeanyBy Daragh Keany
A tiny gesture can be a big deal

Sometimes it is hard to articulate how big a deal a tiny gesture can be, but I will try.

My grandad doesn’t have long to go now as the dementia and Alzheimer’s, with all the accompanying complications, take over his body and mind.

At 94, he has had more than a good innings and on his good days it is hard to believe that he is a) the age he is and b) on his way out.

Unfortunately for my dad, uncle and a small extended family, the good days are few and far between at the moment. He struggles to recognise us and is incoherent a lot of the time. 

When he does recognise us, he tends to be abusive and shout obscenities at us for “leaving him here to die”. 

The “here” in this situation is Clonskeagh Hospital, Dublin, where he will live for the rest of his life. Having been in St Vincent’s Hospital for nearly six months, we were thrilled last month to finally get him a place in the impressive home. 

I only see and hear how staff are with my grandad but it is safe to say that they are saints for the way they deal with him.

At 6ft 4in and as a former Garda superintendent, he is a man of honour and strength and has not adapted easily to life as a dependent in a nursing home. 

Two weeks ago, he was rushed back to Vincent’s, where it was discovered that he had yet another infection. We weren’t sure if he would make it. But yet again, for the umpteenth time, he did. 

But what was remarkable was the welcome he received when he was brought back to Clonskeagh.

The two orderlies who were charged with taking him back to his room in a wheelchair greeted him by standing to attention and saluting him at the door, as if he was still a superintendent. 

I wasn’t there but my mum says grandad smiled wider than he has for years. Incredible.