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.
[Interviewer] And I wonder, in terms of, you know the way through life we meet people, and maybe somebody hurts us and we get over it and maybe they say sorry, and you know other people that we don’t really get on that well with, or they annoy us. Now is that different for you because maybe you don’t have those memories of a provincial moved you here, or a superior this to you a fellow Jesuit. Is it different like that and do you relate differently to people because you have no back history?
[Desmond O’Grady, SJ] I don’t think in that way, because as I say, the effective content seems to stay on. But on the other hand, I would have been inclined to say, ‘Ah well, we’re all different, and these things happen.’ So I let go of annoyances, and I would be good at picking up again someone that fell out with or someone I had awful row with, I’d be often the one to make the move and say, ‘What on earth got into us the other day?’ Or something like that, you know? So that’s never been a real problem with me. I just know myself that I can get mad with people and then I go back and I say, ‘God, I don’t know how I behaved like that. I’m sorry.’ But, to keep in touch would be much more important than saving face. I never worried about saving face. I think because I never really had much of a face. I was no good at football. I couldn’t keep up with the lads at school. I couldn’t run. I had asthma when I was a kid, so I had to drop out of a lot of things and say, ‘I just can’t do these things.’ So maybe I got used, early on, to realizing I’ve got my limitations and then I’ve found I’ve also got my assets. I was very clever. Every one of my ACREs at school because I had the answers to the sums right. [laughter]