I am the middle child of nine children born to Ambrose & Margaret Groeger in 1957. They have both passed on to their eternal reward but they were truly amazing parents. As a family we were not wealthy on the scale of wealth today but we were not poor either. Mum and Dad gave us what money cannot buy. They imbued us with a set of values, a sense of family and a sense of belonging but most of all they loved us and we knew it. They gave each of us an education and never forced a particular career path but encouraged each and every one of us to follow our dreams. Mum and Dad firmly believed in the old Irish Proverb; “Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí” –praise the youth and she will come.
Where am I going with this tribute to Mum and Dad? It is thanks to them that I have such a fantastic family, both immediate and extended. How did Mum and Dad influence my extended family? The set of values they gave all of us influenced our choice of life partner. We were born and raised in Cork City but now there are only two of us boys left in the city with a third brother in the county. The rest of the family are spread around with the majority now based in Dublin with one in Australia and another in England. Despite the geographical spread we have managed to stay in touch.
It is difficult to say how important a good support network is for someone with an incurable neurodegenerative disease; but believe me when I say it is. It doesn’t mean that everybody rings or calls every day, or even every week, to see how I am doing. They are there at the end of a phone or on Skype if I need them for a kind word, a word of support or a metaphorical hug. I know they are there for me but of more importance they are there for Jean and Elaine and Mairéad. Those three ladies are the most important people in my life and my first line of support. I know that there will be times when they will need support but I know that my brothers and sisters will be there for them because that is who we are thanks to Mum and Dad and the way they reared us. Family is Number 1 and always will be.
The next generation has taken its place in the world. Elaine and Mairéad are both married now and their husbands are their primary supports but I have a total of 22 nieces and nephews and I know that should the need arise they will be there for the girls.