Desmond O’Grady is a Jesuit priest who served in many prominent positions throughout Ireland. He was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He shares what living with the disease has taught him and how it has changed the way he lives life.

There may well come a time, the one I dread, you know, when I won’t know you’re Pat. I won’t recognize that I’ve met you before. And that, I know, with my sister, not know, that to me…I just so love being with people and doing things with people and I’ve been uplifted by people, that the thought that all that could be gone, that brings, as you can see, tears to my eyes. Yeah, I suppose I could say I trust in God, and that is true, but there is also with me just a sense of, ‘Live the life you’ve got,’ and I will live it as best I can as long as I’m given the life to live. And I’ve lived through difficulties, as I was telling you about my childhood experiences. Alzheimer’s dementia now. Failure in work at various things. I’ve set out on a few projects and then said, ‘I’m not up to this.’ Failures in relationships. And they’re all sad and hurtful, but there’s much more to life than all of those. A lot of these, certainly, relationship failures we’ve mended. They’re the ones I want to mend. I don’t like it go away. And even where I can’t mend it with the other person, I mend it in myself. I know I just keep wishing them well.

MORE STORIES

Ludovina Pacheco

DeathThe day before he died, my grandpa gave me a gift and asked me to pray for his soul because he was on the way to our Father’s house. We talked a lot that evening. Very lucid, he repeated once more: ‘My dear, pray for my soul.’ I went home, and at four in the morning we received the news that he had died. I remembered then what he had asked me. Before she died, eleven months later, my grandma asked me the same thing. I was 18 years old.

VIEW THIS STORY

Alice Waua Mwololo

WorkMy passion is making baskets out of beads and jewelry. I also make rosaries. I work from my house. I cannot afford to rent a shop. My clients come to the house to buy what they want. However, during the day, I hawk my wares around the area I live in. People love beaded jewelry, so I am able to make a few coins.

VIEW THIS STORY

María Dolores de Guevara Ribadas

StruggleMy parents would make everything stretch like a piece of gum. I remember my parents having only bread soup for dinner from the leftover ration bread. Even in this situation, my mother would share with an old lady who often came to beg. Despite what this might look like, there was always happiness at home. We sang and looked at life with optimism. Overcoming challenges was a constant in my parents’ life.

VIEW THIS STORY

Carlos E. Obando

LoveI grew up without a dad. We went through a lot with my parents’ divorce. When I came to the United States, I was bleeding all over the place. But I didn’t want to recognize it. It was very easy for me to love somebody, but it was extremely difficult to be loved by somebody. Because I was so hurt, I was not able to pull down all the fences that were protecting my heart.

VIEW THIS STORY

Andrea Mendoza Chiviliú

WorkI create traditional fabrics that I sell to tourists who visit the town I live in. My mother taught me how to work with fabrics. She used to tell me I should learn to work so that I could cover the family expenses when I got married. My work did help my husband and me cover our many needs.

VIEW THIS STORY

Kerry Egan

DeathSix years ago, I met Jim. I was his hospice chaplain. At our first meeting, he told me he had a message to get out to thousands of people. ‘I know what it feels like when the Holy Spirit has a job for me,’ he said. ‘I’ve got to get a message out, but how can I do it when I can’t even get out of this recliner?’

VIEW THIS STORY