With the morning sun shining into her room on the new wing of Our Lady’s Hospice, Patricia Nolan can look out at the garden and enjoy the flowers she recently planted.
Born in Castlerea, Roscommon, Patricia moved to Dublin’s South Circular Road as a young woman, more than 30 years ago.
There, she raised her three children, Iarla, Coman and Niamh, while her husband Jim worked in the construction industry.
Niamh, who visits Patricia often, recalls how her mother threw big birthday parties with magicians or clowns for herself and her two brothers, now all in their 20s. One year there was even a bouncy castle!
Patricia and Jim enjoyed taking their children abroad, to Portugal, Greece and even Disney World in Florida.
‘The Celtic Tiger was on at the time, and everyone had money,’ says Patricia. ‘We decided that if we don’t go now, we’ll never go, so we brought the children to as many places as we could!’
Now, Niamh lives in Dublin, and her two brothers have recently returned from Dubai and Canada to spend time with Patricia following her diagnosis with colon cancer. ‘They’re all a fantastic help to me now, they couldn’t do enough, even the lads,’ Patricia says.
Patricia, who also travelled to New York before she was married, has remained very active since her children have grown older. In 2013, she graduated from NUI Maynooth with a double honours degree, in Greek and Roman Civilisation and History.
Along with learning and travelling, Patricia also loves a good crime novel, as well as gardening. She particularly likes to grow clematis, roses and perennials, such as tulips, daffodils and lupins, in her garden at home. Patricia’s room now in the Hospice looks onto a patio and courtyard garden, in which there are some of the flowers she planted during a recent class.
‘The occupational therapist put the gardening class together, and we sat down at the table, and she gave us the planters, the plants, the compost, the whole lot,’ says Patricia. ‘Then she brought all the planters we made to our rooms. I love it.’
Patricia and Niamh recently attended a garden party held in Hospice’s popular Rose Garden, along with her sister and niece. Both mother and daughter said it was a lovely day, with the sun shining and tea and cakes being served, while a band singing Rat Pack songs entertained the guests.
‘My sister and her daughter came up from Galway, and I was so happy there was something on for them to enjoy, and they really did,’ Patricia says.
Patricia, who also enjoys regular Tai Chi classes at the hospice, appreciates the open approach to visiting, which means that family and friends can call in anytime they like.
‘Visiting times is unrestricted, and I’ve had a lot of visitors, but then I’m lucky since my house is quite near. My neighbours can walk up to me and back and there’s no hassle,’ she says. ‘On our road, we all look out for each other.’
‘The hospice is a real homey, homely place. You’re not confined. You can bring your dog in, and flowers in. There’s nice peace and quiet when you want it.’
Patricia loves having a garden adjacent to her room, especially as she and her visitors can go there any time they want, and she likes having meals out in the fresh air. ‘The fact that you can walk out and it’s part of the space you have here is great, and they tend to it very well,’ says Patricia.
‘The wing that I’m staying in only opened recently, and it’s all high tech. Whoever planned this put a lot of thought into it.’
Patricia says all her needs are catered for at Our Lady’s. ‘I’d never go home, if I could,’ she says. ‘It’s fantastic. I’d live here for the rest of my life. Everything is done for me – tablets, showers, and I just let them know if I’m going out for a while. The food is very good as well, very fresh.
‘I have a fridge in my room, and a safety deposit box, and I get a massage every week, and it’s delightful.’
Patricia says the care provided by staff at the hospice is wonderful. ‘I call them the angels,’ she says. ‘They’re so kind. Everyone has their own personal pain, and personal things happening to them and yet the staff here can just leave that aside and come in to the hospice and they’re able to smile at 5 o’clock in the morning. They’re tailor-made for the job. I’ve great respect for all of them.’
‘A friend of mine called into me the other day and she said that every time she comes in here to the hospice she feels the love, nothing but love, and I feel the same.’