DENIS McCarthy serenaded Ann – the woman he has loved for the last 50 years – through a plate glass window at a nursing home in Drimoleague on Tuesday.
Although March 31st was their anniversary, Denis (83), who has dementia, sang Happy Birthday to Ann (70) to mark the sense of occasion.
He also gave a rendition of ‘their’ song, Brown Eyed Girl – a Van Morrison hit that is as old, and as enduring, as their love. Denis’s son Donal brought him from the family home in Caheragh to the Fairfield Nursing Home, while, inside, the head chef, Niamh Condon, presented Ann with a huge celebratory cake.
Their daughter, Marie, one of eight children, told The Southern Star that despite the restrictions of her parents’ various health issues – her mother has MS and needs nursing home care after she had a stroke last year – the anniversary was ‘heartfelt’.
‘Although they couldn’t be together, they thought it was wonderful,’ she said. ‘They waved and blew kisses to one another.’
Given his dementia, Marie said: ‘Dad doesn’t fully understand why he is not allowed in to see mam, but we are meeting that with patience and a lot of tenderness.’
Marie described both the facility and the staff at the nursing home as ‘incredible’ and she especially thanked the chef, Niamh Condon, who is about to embark on a new business ‘Dining with Dignity’ – a service that makes food especially for people who have difficulty swallowing.
Niamh has, for example, recreated some of Ann’s favourites such as the Field’s salad roll and, as a treat, a taste of Field’s éclairs.
She said the visit to the nursing home was done in accordance with strict social distancing guidelines. ‘It was just too important an occasion to miss, especially as every precaution was taken to ensure both the safety and well-being of my mam and dad, and everyone at the nursing home.’
As parents, Marie said Denis and Ann were ‘wonderful and self-sacrificing. They gave us everything and we are all looking forward to the day when we can see them again and give them a hug.’