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] You have a great sense of, first of all, honesty. You tell the truth as it is. You then have, you’ve come, it would appear, to an acceptance of that through awareness. And then you take action. That’s a powerful way of dealing with anything in life, and particularly with something potentially as debilitating as Alzheimer’s.
[Desmond O’Grady, SJ] Um, yes, I think that’s true. My own way of thinking it more is the life I have, whatever it is, from the time I was an infant, up to now, is the life I have. And either you can bemoan its shortcomings, or you can delight in that you’ve settled in it. I’ve set to delight and get settled in it. Having, I think, started off as a kid feeling, ‘Oh my God! I wanna do this. I wanna do that. And I wanna do the other. And I don’t have a way around it.’ Miserable myself, annoying everyone else, and alienating them. So I says, ‘Well, this ain’t no life. What have you got?’ And I’ve found that I have an awful lot. I live a very happy life now, thanks be to God, and it hasn’t been diminished by Alzheimer’s. I think, in some ways, because Alzheimer’s has restricted my activities I have much more contemplative space. And that has done me a world of good.