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 that’s the great thing about being open about it. You know, once it’s out there and said, people can then say to you, “This is my name,” or, you know, put it into the conversation in some way so that you know. What is it like being you today in the sense of, do you remember yesterday? Or when you go now from me today, and say, by tonight, will you remember that you’ve done this interview?
[Desmond O’Grady, SJ] I don’t know. It’s very unpredictable. I remember some things, and I don’t remember others. I think the things that would have a high emotional charge stay. Things that are business, things that are items of information disappear very quickly. And names were never very strong an item with me. But I’d remember the face, and the face would come back, and then I’d I know who I was with today.”
[Interviewer] And would all the associations come with that, say, as well?
[Desmond O’Grady, SJ] Oh, how do I know? Certain associations come back anyway. And yes, I think at the effective level, in many ways, I think I’ll be much freer now than I would have been before because I would have been focused more on the knowledge before. Now I just see people and the whole sense of the relationship, not in terms of the acts or the deeds, but in terms of the affection, the ease, the enjoyment and so on with people, that’s there very, very clearly.