When the word ‘love’ doesn’t come close.
Courage comes in many forms. Sometimes in moments of crisis, people discover a strength within themselves that they never knew existed. But for Paul Reid, one of our residents in Harold’s Cross, his bravery is unremarkable. In fact he’s surprised that anyone would notice it. Paul’s spent most of his working life in the glamorous world of fashion and retail. Paul is an outgoing, warm and social personality bursting with stories and humour. He describes his motorised wheelchair as ‘my batmobile’. But there’s another side to Paul – a quieter, more thoughtful and deeply generous side.
“None of us want to be here, but we’re very lucky we are. I have 24/7 care. I want for nothing. It’s down to the staff. Everyone is so good, so friendly and so dedicated. They make it so personal to each one of us. This place gives me quality of life and peace of mind – that’s amazing.“
Paul was a leading figure in men’s fashion retail in Dublin from the 1970s until Motor Neurone Disease turned his life upside down just a few years ago. But most of his stories are from the heady days of the 70s, 80s and 90s when Paul, at different times, managed or owned a number of Dublin’s A-list stores. Starting at just sixteen, Paul moved from his first job in a store in Wexford Street to Adams of Duke Lane. The shop was co-owned by Des Hickey who ran a film company. Des would bring global stars like Cliff Richard, Liz Taylor, Richard Burton and Ryan O’Neal into the shop or they would all lunch in the Hibernian Hotel nearby.
“I met my wife Phil in Davy Byrnes pub. We clicked right away. We married in 1972 and had five children – four girls and a boy. I now have three gorgeous grandchildren.”
He proudly recalls managing an elite store called Couples:
“We had a girl called Aisling working there. And every evening these guys would be standing outside the shop waiting for her. I said to her, ask them to stop – it’s bad for business. Aisling always said she was going to marry a rock star. She married The Edge from U2. And who were the guys standing outside? Bono and the boys!”
Eventually Paul owned and managed his own shop ‘Trevor Howard’. But the arrival of new department stores – and the location of Marks and Spencer’s nearby – convinced him to leave the business.
“In 2011 I began to have symptoms of my illness. I got a severe attack of heart palpitations. After that I was getting dizziness and terrible cramps.”
Paul feels strongly about how insensitively the news was broken to him on the 28th March 2013 – news that he had a serious, life-limiting illness.
“I was on my own. The consultant was so cold. She said to me: ‘What I’m going to tell you now – you really should have your family with you today. You have Motor Neurone Disease and it’s irreversible.’ I asked ‘where does that leave me?’ She just bluntly said ‘”three to four years’. That was it.”
Paul’s family gathered. There were tears and questions and worries. But everyone rallied around quite quickly. At this point, Paul made a key decision. “When I was diagnosed, I decided I wasn’t going to be a burden on my girls or my son.
It was a big moment for Paul and a frightening one too.
“I immediately started looking at care homes. At the end of the list was Harold’s Cross Hospice. Sinead asked me to come in. I put my name down for a place. I started availing of the day care service once a week. I really looked forward to it. You go in, have your tea or coffee in a lovely room. We all had a bit of fun – even under the circumstances. Then it’s lunch. Then it’s the doctor coming in asking ‘Can I see you for 15 minutes Paul?’ Then the physio, the nurse, the volunteers.”
And then last March he got a phone call that signalled another big transition. He got a room full-time.
It’s hard to find words to describe what this place means to me. The people are wonderful. The doctors, the nurses, the carers, the volunteers the cleaners, everyone. They are so caring and so good at what they do.” Paul ends our conversation by pondering a question:
“What’s the value of this place? It’s simply priceless. I saw one of the staff with an elderly patient. It was such a beautiful and moving scene. She stroked the woman’s hair and chatted to her. The word ‘love’ doesn’t come close to describing what the care is like here.”