“I’d just like another year to see my grandchild grow up – she thinks I’m just away and will be coming home.”
It was that sentence that got the Lord Mayor’s attention when he recently visiting the Southern Area Hospice in Newry.
Councillor Gareth Wilson paid a visit to staff and patients on Tuesday – it was his first time at the Hospice.
“What an insightful, memorable experience it was,” he explained.
“The gentleman I met had been given the all clear only for cancer to return and what struck me was his acceptance.
“What also struck me was the warmth, the dedication of the staff, the friendliness and the calm atmosphere. ‘It’s so hard to get in here and I’m not leaving I get really well looked after here’.”
Mr Wilson was meeting with Liz Cuddy, the new Chief Executive, and her team of nurses and administrative staff, who gave him a tour of the building and the opportunity to meet patients. He also met Rev. Hagan, one of the Hospice Chaplains.
“The building isn’t the focus – it’s the work that goes on inside it,” said the Lord Mayor.
“An elderly lady had summonsed me to her bedside – Margaret – she wanted to see me! I said let’s go see her! ‘Well, you keepin’ rightly?’
“Why did I say that! I always say that… and it’s always okay!!
“I needn’t have panicked – it was okay as she said with a wry smile, ‘I’ve been better’.
“Again the ‘acceptance’ and Margaret’s really strong faith! She says you know the way hotels can be 3 star and 4 star?
“I said ‘yeh’ – well she says ‘this place is 7 or 8 star they treat me so well’.
“You would know you were being well treated! She still hadn’t let my hand go at this point and we talked about her family, Portadown, the pains – I said you will be getting a new body soon free from pains – she knew exactly what I meant and squeezed my hand so tight, drew me a bit closer and smiled so widely.
“I will cherish this visit and the conversations I have had this week.”
He added: “I was able to present a donation from our councillors on ABC to Liz and her dedicated and hard working team.
“The Hospice is so well supported by so many organisations and individuals through charitable giving – they shared with me their needs for upgrades and new facilities – please keep supporting the Hospice.
“The work going on and support given to patients and families is priceless and immense.”