Tomorrow is the day that Georgia is going for another operation on her eyes, and she is helping me ‘pack’ my bag.“Don’t forget your toothbrush and your toothpaste, Grandad,” she says. Then “did you know there is a McDonald’s near the hospital Grandad?”
Georgia is only 4 years old. This is not her first eye surgery. As she chats away, I remember the last time – when doctors were reattaching her retina. She wanted me to walk her down to the operating theatre, and she kept saying, “Am I going to get gas? I don’t want to get gas Grandad.” Over and over I said it would be okay.
I couldn’t go in but she was begging me, screaming, “Grandad, please, please.” There was a little alcove, and after she’d gone in I had to pause to get the emotion out of my system. Then I washed my face and went out to tell my daughter, “Georgia is doing grand.” Those moments are hardest of all.
It isn’t the first time my wife and I have tried to hold it together. When Georgia was born she didn’t open her eyes. Everyone told us not to worry. But as the hours unfolded, more and more doctors and nurses were brought in. I tried to console my daughter Aisling, who is Georgia’s mum, saying that medical science is good – then Georgia was transferred to specialists who told us even though this little baby was only just a few days old, she was already on the verge of complete blindness. Four percent sight, in just one eye. Today that little girl is the light of my life
For the last six months I’ve had to be out of work, so I’ve had time to help put Georgia on and off the specially outfitted bus to ChildVision. I’ve got to know the amazing staff there, and to watch as Georgia’s independence, level of communication, and ability to navigate a strange environment have all blossomed.
I’m worried for Georgia because of her operation tomorrow. Her eyesight is worsening, and she’s been having headaches. I worry too, like any parent or grandparent would, because her vision isn’t coming back. She’s going to have to grow up blind. But I have nothing but respect for ChildVision, from the transport to the reception and the teachers. We’ve done the tour, we’ve been out on the playground, and you could never say enough about the good people who donate so Georgia and other blind children in Ireland can get the help they need here.
Georgia’s lovely choice of words as she reminds me of something else to pack, as she tells me, ‘Of course, Grandad’… her manners as she waits to hear my response… the way she senses her pathways in familiar and unfamiliar surroundings… I put all of it down to ChildVision – firmly in my heart – and the people who donate to make it possible. And I thank you in advance, for whatever you can give so this immense work can continue. For Georgia, and for all the children there.